From watching to doing

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Hamilton’s Suze Landers is passionate about triathlon and encouraging others into the sport.

Having first got involved after watching triathlon on television, she is now an avid participant and promoter of the sport, encouraging people of all ages to have a go through her role as chairperson of Hamilton Triathlon Club. Fitness Journal finds out more.

Name: Suze Landers
Age: 32

How did you get involved?
I first got involved in triathlons after watching a race on TV. The individual challenge of the three disciplines interested me and with work commitments, I was finding it hard to commit to my team sports.

After being involved for a few years, I wanted to start giving back to the sport and helping others become involved, especially beginners.  It took me quite a while to get into triathlons due to not being able to swim.

I feel it is a shame and a missed opportunity for people to miss out on training and racing because of a lack of knowledge and not knowing where to start.

My background is health and fitness, so after moving to Hamilton, I wanted to be in a position to help others take action to a positive step in their health and fitness.

Your personal participation in the sport? I currently race in both Olympic and half Ironman distances in triathlon and duathlon and am fortunate enough to represent NZ at age group level at various events overseas.

I also coach athletes within the sport in different events and distances. I am very passionate about triathlon and love being at a race and watching fellow athletes achieve their goals. This is a sport which is achievable for everyone, and to see people cross the line no matter what their placing, is very inspiring.

If you could participate in any triathlon event which one would you choose and why?
My favourite triathlon would have to be the Port of Tauranga Half Ironman which has now become a weekend of Multisport events as well.

This was my first half Ironman event I competed in and is at the start of January when the holidays are still on. There is always a great atmosphere to this race and with two  laps on both the bike and run, you have an opportunity to run past everyone at different stages of the race.

It is a very flat and fast course where many people will hold their fastest time for this distance.

The support from the crowd is always a morale booster and it is also the NZ National Champs.

What is the biggest misconception about the sport?
That you don’t have to be the best to be on the start line or have all the best gear. This is what stops a lot of people from becoming involved. I had a friend who did her first triathlon on her son’s mountain bike and with no wetsuit.

She’s now really into triathlons and has all the gear, but for that event, she had nothing flash and her fitness and determination got her to the finish. Start slowly by becoming more involved with others in the sport to learn as you go.

As you start getting better you can upgrade where you see fit.

Three things you would like people to know about the sport?
1) You don’t have to reach a certain level of fitness and knowledge before being able to participate.

If you have the desire to give triathlon a go, don’t delay because of fears or assumptions. Everyone goes through this, but the best way start is get involved and ask questions. You will thank yourself for it later.

2) Remember to have fun and enjoy the experience of training and racing.

Sometimes the expectation and pressure people put on themselves to do well or because of other people’s opinions can affect their experience. Go out and be the best you can be.

Don’t worry about what others are doing, you will get the best satisfaction knowing you gave it all you could, as opposed to worrying about other performances and losing the opportunity to appreciate your own achievements.

3) There is a lot to learn at the start.

In a triathlon you swim, bike then run. When getting close to a race, start thinking about the little things such as what will you will wear on race day, or eat for breakfast that won’t upset your stomach? If you practise that in training, you won’t have a problem come race day.

Also getting used to running off a bike with tired legs. Make sure you practise this so the body is used to being able to finish strong on the run. Simple things that can help a lot.

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