GTC athlete of the month: Iain Todd

Iain has been with GTC for three years. He races in the 40 to 44 age category. Many club members will know Iain as a leader of the rugged runs series. He has been an enthusiastic route leader and creator.

Iain enjoyed a sporty childhood growing up in the Western Isles with his twin brother Andrew. Iain said: “The two of us would bike, run and play football together. We used to play squash and tennis but we argued too much between shots so we had to stop.

“Added to that my dad loves golf, hill walking and fishing so we were always encouraged to spend time outdoors.

“I would say that I am a sporting jack of all trades but master of none.”

Iain and his twin Andrew.

Triathlon as a hangover cure

Iain reports that it was alcohol that first attracted him to triathlon. He said: “I used to live in Edinburgh and I noticed a local triathlon on New Year’s Day. That seemed like a good Hogmanay hangover cure so I entered.

“I didn’t train! I hadn’t swum since school and the only stroke I knew was the breaststroke. As you can imagine, that first triathlon did not go well!

“In fact, I stopped after the swim to use a hair-dryer. My mountain bike broke on the cycling section and I threw up on the run due to my hangover. I eventually came in third last.”

It was five years before Iain thought about doing a triathlon again. A school friend had completed Challenge Henley 70.3 and Iain thought he would look into how he could take part. That led to joining GTC.

Open water swim, close to his favourite transport!

GTC boost to training

Since joining GTC, Iain says he has seen an improvement in all three sports. He said: “Before joining the club I’d never been coached or thought about training. It was a revelation to see there is an art/science to training.”

Cycling is Iain’s favourite sport. He said: “I commute to work by bike and I enjoy doing so. I don’t think I could face taking a bus or train every day as I’m so used to getting a dose of fresh air – and rain! – in the morning and evening.”

He races all lengths of triathlon and doesn’t have a preference. He said: “I only do one or two triathlons a year so I pick races based on location. I think: ‘Is it somewhere I’d like to visit? Or is it somewhere I’ve been to before and enjoyed?’.”

It’s the journey not the achievement

Iain prefers not to think about races in terms of achievements and placings. He said: “In 2012, I tried to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Due to altitude sickness, I failed to get to the top.

“Every day I’d wake up in my tent with a splitting headache. I eventually got to ‘my top’, which was a big rock, where I sneaked behind before bursting into tears.

“While hiding behind the rock I realised that a) trying to achieve something is meaningless if the journey to get there is miserable and b) crying is not a cure for a headache. Paracetamol would have been more appropriate.

“Since then I tend not to be too bothered by achievements. I’d rather have an interesting journey, which ends in failure, than a boring journey that ends in success.

“Therefore the achievement I’m most proud of is failing to complete L’etape du Tour, a cycle sportive where you ride a stage of the Tour de France. I’d entered it despite knowing very little about road cycling. I had to buy and then learn how to ride a road bike.

“I got to visit the south of France for the first time and I learnt to DNF in a race! It was a great experience.”

Norseman goal

Iain has a big goal this summer: To take part in the Norseman. He said: “I’ve always wanted to jump off a ferry. I think it must be due to the hundreds of journeys I’ve taken on the ferry to and from Stornoway on Lewis that have given me a ferry fetish!

“Also, since I supported Andrew when he did the Norseman in 2016 I have wanted to do it myself. I feel lucky to have the opportunity to go there again.”

A new hobby to try

Outside of triathlon, Iain likes to have a hobby to challenge him. He said: “For example, one year I tried acting. I was terrible at it but it was very challenging to go on stage.

“This year, I’ve been doing some painting. I went to a class, which taught me how to paint fruit and how to paint faces. I’d like to get better. At present, my paintings end up as faces that look like fruit.”

Benefits of coaching

Iain recommends that other people qualify as coaches for the club. He said: “It’s often been said about football coaches that great players tend to be terrible coaches. I discovered that I was terrible at coaching and thought that maybe that would make me a great triathlete? Ha!

“But seriously, doing the coaching course made me ask: ‘Why am I so terrible at coaching?’ I realised it was because I do not listen and I think I know best.

“I now appreciate that to coach well, I first have to learn how to learn. I’ve gone going back to swimming lessons and I’m getting better at listening (I hope) and I look forward to coaching more for the club later in the summer when I don’t have Norseman to prepare for.

“So I recommend that people do coaching if they have an ego. You’ll soon lose it!”

Iain led the Subrun Rugged Run.

Iain’s tips for triathlon

Attempt one event a year that scares you. It does not matter if it’s a big or small goal but it should be personal to you. By having that one goal you will train with a purpose and that will make training so much easier.

Triathlon times are irrelevant. Courses are not comparable so one person’s time might have been on a flat course with an amazing bike. It’s a sport where money can buy a better performance so ignore times and race for fun.

Do races with someone else. I often race with my brother. Long runs and bike rides can be tedious. If you follow my point 2 and ignore your time then instead you’ll enjoy the chat rather than the chase.