Top tips from 79 year old, ITU and Ironman 70.3 World Champion, Daphne Belt
Daphne Belt, 79, won't let two broken bones stop her from competing in the Sebamed Brighton and Hove Triathlon next month. There's a reason she's an ITU Age Group Champion and Ironman 70.3 Legend.
Despite broken bones, from a fall from her bike over 11 weeks ago, Daphne still intends to compete in our race in September, and we couldn't be more impressed. She's also written 5 top tips for athletes which you can read below this article. She's certainly someone to take advice from, with an impressive list of accolades including ITU Age Group World Champion for 7 years, European Champion for 4 years and Ironman 70.3 World Champion in 2011 and 2017.
While most people Daphne’s age are suffering falls from just walking down the street, she is already back on the turbo, keeping her fitness up, and is swimming in the sea.
After the accident, Daphne is still working on building the strength in her grip and until this has returned she will not be riding her bike outside until closer to the race. As well as the usual physio and rest, recovering has involved the painful process of having her bones 'straightened' (which only has an 80% chance of working). She has remained incredibly positive throughout, as you can see on her Instagram, and has kept up enough training in time for the Sebamed Brighton and Hove Triathlon this September, and hopefully the ITU World Championship in Laussanne, Switzerland in 2019.
Daphne told Brighton and Hove Triathlon, ‘I have just celebrated by 79th birthday, so if I can make a comeback then anybody can.’
Daphne's 5 TOP TIPS
1. How to increase you average speed
Miles in the legs. You don't wish your way through a 20k bike ride, or a 40k bike ride, it needs some serious training if you want to go faster. The same applies to the run and the swim. You don't have to do long training sessions, you just need to get out there. On the bike get those legs turning and get used to changing gears. Listen to your legs and change gear rather that slog away on a hard gear to make it through the distance; you have to pace yourself and not hammer away punishing yourself and your muscles. When it comes to the swim, get out in the sea and get used to the feeling of open water. You might want to sign up to the GOTRI Open Water sessions which are on offer each year. 2. Tackling corners without losing speed
This will be important for the Sebamed Brighton and Hove Triathlon because there are dead turns at the end of both sections on each bike lap. I have cycled in triathlons, time trials and just for fun for many years and the best ever tip for me was this: When approaching a corner, LOOK where you want to GO and NOT where you DON'T want to go i.e. the gravel spread in the center of the road. Your bike goes where your eyes go. Drum that into your head. It's very simple and yet very effective.
3. Getting your nutrition and hydration right
Get used to something that suits your digestive system. If you can take the sports bars and gels then that's great, but if you can't stomach these take some jelly babies or jelly sweets for the bike course. It's an open secret that this is what I fuel on during races. They are light, sweet and go down easily. Most importantly, don't test new bars and gels on the course, do this in training first, and drink plenty of your water even if it's not particularly hot.
I'm probably not the best person to take advice from when it comes to nutrition the night before, because I never eat the night before an event no matter how long, but I do eat a large and healthy late lunch at around 3-4pm. This usually involves a salmon fillet and mashed potatoes, if I had a pile of pasta, I wouldn't sleep a wink.
4. Kit you can't live without
While not all of it is essential, if you want to shave time off your race make sure you bring (most of) the following kit:
1. Trisuit (or swimming costume and t-shirt)
2. Race belt for your race number
4. Cycling or triathlon shoes for the bike if you use cleats. I assume lots of people will be riding with cleats but it's not essential.
5. Talcum powder to dust over your running shoes if you plan to run without socks. You might also want to rub petroleum jelly at the back of your shoes as well, to stop rubbing. Personally, I always wear socks.
6. A towel so you can more easily find your place in transition
7. Helmet (kind of important!)
8. Water bottle, already on your bike
9. Running shoes
11. Body Glide (or something similar) to stop rubbing on your wetsuit
5. Breaking the piggy bank
I came to triathlon late in life, at the age of 50 in fact, and I am now almost 80. If you are new and starting out in the sport you don't need to break the piggy bank to take part, but there's no denying that it can get expensive. If you love it you can make more of a financial commitment later. In the mean time, if you don't want to buy a trisuit straight away, a running top and swimming costume will be fine. Just be careful of that nudity rule in transition!
All the best,