220: You said last year that you had ‘unfinished business’ in triathlon. Is there anything in particular you’re looking to tick off?
CM: Obviously I would love to do myself justice in Kona, because although I’ve had a few successful Ironman events, Kona’s been the one that’s just kind of missing. I always race because I want to do the best I possibly can and I’ve fallen short on three occasions in Kona, which is obviously in the back of my mind.
Any other particular ambitions?
Well I don’t think, out of all the successful races I’ve had over Ironman – and that’s not that many because I’m still quite new to it – I don’t think I’ve ever mastered the marathon. So that’s something I’d really like to deal with. Maybe it’s kind of the physical monster I am – coming from a love of the 10k/ half-marathon kind of distance. I need to give myself space to explore going more slowly.
Has the surgery on your Achilles helped with your running?
I think it probably will because I can’t actually go fast right now. What happens is that when you spend little bits of time being injured, you find other ways to cross train to maintain very high levels of cardiovascular fitness, so when you start running again you can jump back in really quickly. It’s kind of physically impossible for me to do that right now, because my level of fitness has dropped. So I need to increase everything so slowly that I think it might actually be a really good thing for my marathon running. I’ll have the time, and I’ll be forced to do the long, slow stuff that I haven’t ever mastered.
What about the Commonwealth Games (being held in Scotland next year)? Have you had any thoughts about competing?
I have – they took a while to get the selection policy out: it was only made public just before Christmas. I’ve read it and now I need to sit down and really think about it. It’s difficult because a part of me would love to compete there, for the pure and simple reason that it’s a home games and it would be a wonderful experience. But you have to also remember that part of the equation when competing in a big games like that is that you have to be competitive; I don’t want to go just because it’s a home country and I want to make up the numbers. I need to be realistic about whether I can be competitive.
What are your thoughts on Chrissie Wellington’s retirement? Do you think there will be any impact on the sport?
I’m wondering if, because Chrissie was just one of those people who was just so far ahead of the curve, that now what you’ll see is perhaps races that are more competitive from the fact that at the front of the race there might be more happening. So you’ll get people who are more of a similar level battling it out, rather than Chrissie off at the front and everyone else battling at it. But then you never know. Some people could just come to the front that you don’t know about – that’s the beauty of sport: you never know.
Do you think that that year out and getting that wider perspective will change your approach more generally?
I think with all things, regardless of sport or life or anything, you can become very myopic and engrained in what you do. For anyone, a change of perspective is a breath of fresh air. There’s a whole lot more to life than triathlon… I mean, there always was, but it’s great to be out working and doing something different.