Gillian has recently rejoined GTC during lockdown after a four-year break. She said: “I was a member of GTC until I moved flats in 2016 and it was harder to get to sessions.
“I had enjoyed attending swimming sessions at Maryhill and I found this helped a lot as I’d taught myself front crawl and wasn’t too confident.
“Then, during lockdown, I was excited to hear GTC were doing Zoom spin sessions. This was something I already had a routine with at the gym – and I decided to rejoin the club so I could join the Zoom sessions.
“I was delighted to be able to ‘reconnect’ with the club.”
Gillian, who races in the age category 40-45, came to triathlon from a running background. She said: “I enjoyed sport at school and, in particular, running. I was also a member of a wee athletics club, but it wasn’t well supported and the club folded.
“In my teens, I fell away from running and after that I didn’t really do much again seriously until my early 30s.
“Then, I realised what I’d been missing and got into gym classes, parkrun, hillwalking and all kinds of activities.”
The attraction of triathlon
Gillian liked the idea of triathlon because it “seemed like the ultimate challenge”. She said: “It was something to work towards as I wanted to teach myself front crawl and to start clipping in on a bike. “
Cycling is now Gillian’s favourite discipline. She said: “I feel immediately relaxed when I get on a bike and I forget the cares of the day.
“Cycling was helpful when I had a bowel condition for some years, when walking or running brought on stomach spasms. Cycling allowed me to continue to exercise and to commute to work.”
It is in cycling that Gillian has seen the most improvements since joining GTC. She said: “My cycling has got better through attending the spin sessions and also because I have been out cycling on quieter roads this summer.
“I was able to get out more on longer cycles and gained more confidence being clipped in. I am going to miss the long light evenings as we head into winter.”
She first did a mini triathlon in 2013, and then a sprint in 2014. Gillian said: “I definitely prefer sprint although I’ve not done many and they have all been pool swims. I’m not sure about doing an open water swim in a race yet.”
Gillian managed to do one race before lockdown, the Kirkintilloch 12.5km in February. She had planned to enter the Mid-Argyll triathlon again but that wasn’t possible during the Covid-19 pandemic.
She said: “It would be really nice to start 2021 with a race, hopefully the Kirkie 12.5k again, because I like to visualise this as being where things will be next year. I want to look forward to good events and the smiling faces of people taking part in a race together.”
For Gillian, it’s the friendliness of triathlon races that she most enjoys. She said: “The races I have taken part in have felt very positive and not stiflingly competitive like it can be if you are seriously into one discipline. Plus the camaraderie is good.”
In terms of sporting achievements, Gillian includes a proud moment when ran a sub 50-minute 10km PB in 2017. She also enjoys rock climbing and a lot of her achievements in recent years have been measured in climbing grades.
The struggles of lockdown
Like many people, lockdown has been a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions for Gillian. She has been based from home working as a librarian.
She said: “My motivation has been up and down but I’ve been grateful for the spin classes, which have kept me going. However, I’ve lost enthusiasm to do things like strength training for climbing.
“With things as they are, I am much less active overall, which makes me quite anxious.
“Sometimes, I have to really force myself to go out and do some training, a run or cycle in the evening, because I’m at home all day working with not much interaction with other people. I usually manage, but some days it’s hard to get going.”
Gillian admits that it is hard to focus on next season just now. She said: “I’d like to keep motivated enough to train a bit and not get too despondent about things not being as they usually are.”
Gillian has a few mid-term goals, such as to do a triathlon with an open water swim, “although nothing too major in distance,” she said.
She added: “I’d also like to do a cycle sportive because they sound great.”
Gillian’s triathlon tips
- Start now, don’t wait until you’ve got yourself fit enough because you’re probably already fit enough.
- Pace yourself in the swim section of a race, especially at the start.
- Enjoy it. You can do it!