Glasgow Triathlon Club

Swimming, Cycling, Running. We do it best!

Athlete of the month: Alan Mackie

Alan and Paul, right, take part in the Loch Lomond Swim-Run.
Alan and Paul, right, take part in the Loch Lomond Swim-Run.

Despite a loathing of sports as a youngster, Alan has discovered a love of triathlon in his 40s.

He says: “I started out hating all sports. I was belted at school by my PE teacher and I was a very weedy kid. When I got into my 20s I found I quite liked skiing and then I got into mountaineering.

“But it’s only recently that I have discovered the sports that I really enjoy. Triathlon has opened my eyes to some great challenges and I have enjoyed making make big improvements in the sport. I feel fitter now as I turn 50 than I did in my 20s.”

First swim strokes

Alan has been with GTC for two years and initially joined the club to learn to swim. He says: “I was part of a mad scheme cooked up by a client to raise some money by swimming the Gulf of Corryvreckan. I needed to learn to swim because I could only manage about 25m and the club seemed like a great place to start.”

Alan joined the club with his partner Lesley.

Indeed, Alan, who runs a sales and management company, discovered he likes swimming. He has also seen some impressive improvements in the discipline.

As well as swimming the Corryvreckan, this summer he has twice swum 3km in events. He was delighted, in particular, to come third in the first Loch Lomond Swim-Run Short Course race with another club member, Paul Gallagher.

Alan says: “It’s a great event with a total of 3km of swimming and about 10km of running and with a hill run to start.

“Swimming to and from islands on Loch Lomond and running them felt like a real adventure and a privilege.

“Paul pushed me hard and we had a good race, swapping places with the team that came fourth. It actually was brilliant fun and I enjoyed training with and competing alongside a race partner.”

Alan adds: “I think I am most surprised by how well my swimming has come on. I think that swimming appeals to my personality because it’s a sport in which you have a constant battle between improvements and set-backs and that is a challenge I like.”

Alan in the Craggy Island Triathlon.
Alan in the Craggy Island Triathlon.

Great steps forward

Alan has also seen his running style and speed improve. He says: “I have big thighs, relative to my physique, from my mountaineering days, which gave me a good start on the bike but they are not so handy when running.

“I also did not realise until I joined the club that there was a lot of technique to be learned in running. I hated running but that is probably because I had never heard of heel striking or low cadence running. These have now been replaced with very light footed, high cadence running, which makes running so much better.”

Alan took a superb 23 mins off his half marathon PB this year.

Triathlon successes

Alan was surprised but thrilled to take first place in the Strathclyde Park (open) Sprint in his age group, 50 to 54, earlier this year.

He was also the first male supervet in the GTC Fiona Outdoors Club Aquathlon Series.

Alan has taken part in many other triathlons and is very enthusiastic about participation, as well as encouraging others to join him.

Alan and Bill, front, in the GTC FionaOutdoors aquathlon series.
Alan and Bill, front, in the GTC FionaOutdoors aquathlon series.

Alan’s triathlon tips

1 Alan advises people of all levels of experience to join GTC. He says: “You’ll learn a lot and you’ll meet so many friendly folk. It’s great to have people to train with and to be able to learn from them.”

2 He also likes to use visualisation as part of his training. Alan says: “This is especially true on the spin bike. When the pain starts I picture racing someone and making sure I really hang in there.

“I also talk to myself, especially when I get tired or something starts to niggle. Mostly I think, ‘I can do it. This works for me.”

3 Alan likes to look out all his race kit the night before an event “to check that I have it all”. This is good advice for calming the race nerves.

4 And Alan confesses he has discovered the values of Chamois Cream and Body Glide! Enough said.

Alan and fellow GTC racers.
Alan and fellow GTC racers.

Alan’s racing future

Alan really enjoys racing and like 2016 he has big plans for 2017. He hopes to do an event each month including a mix of duathlons, cycle sportives and triathlons. He would like to do the London to Paris ride, including the Champs Elysee and the Arc de Triomphe the day before the Tour riders.

He has vowed to compete in the Loch Lomond swim-run again with Paul and perhaps the Glencoe swim-run.

Inspired by other club members Maggie Darroch and Bill Rees, Alan would also like to try to qualify for an ITU or ETU age group championships in the future.

He says: “At this point I don’t really know what is involved in that and I know I need to get quite a bit faster first but I’d like to have a go.

“Ironman Barcelona has caught my eye so maybe I’ll d that one day, too…”