Train like an Elite: Non Stanford

Injuries led Non Stanford to triathlon. Now she’s the U23 World Champion and riding high in the ITU World Series

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Andy Blow finds out how the former track-runner’s training has changed since making the switch…

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2012 marked the realisation of a talent that’s been building for some time. Back in the early 2000s, non Stanford was considered to be one of the UK’s most promising middle-distance runners, and was picked up by Dame Kelly Holmes’ ‘On Camp with Kelly’ scheme, designed to help young athletes fulfil their potential.

Stanford enjoyed moderate track success, but her progress was dogged by injuries, which led her to triathlon training as a means of keeping fit. Having also swam competitively, Stanford didn’t need too much persuading from coach Steve Lumley to have a crack at racing.

She quickly proved to be competitive at a national level, her run speed being an obvious asset in drafting races. With Kelly Holmes supporting Stanford’s decision to switch focus from athletics to triathlon, 2010 saw her swim, bike, run journey begin in earnest.

Non trains alongside the Brownlees and fellow U23 rising stars Tom Bishop and Lois Rosindale. “Jack Maitland takes care of our swimming, Malcolm Brown sorts the running and the standard of the athletes is obviously second to none. We train like runners,” Stanford explains.

“We do track interval sets, cross-country loops and drill work each week. We aim to get fast – we don’t just do off-the-bike 10km-paced work like a lot of triathletes seem to.

“Our track session includes up to 5km of efforts during a set, all at 3km race pace or faster, while the intervals we do on the grass are based on efforts like 5 x 5mins. These are done at 10km race pace with up to 30mins of effort in a session.”

Stanford spends 60mins on run drills each week. “The drills we do are much like any you’d see at an athletics club anywhere, really,” she begins. “The main thing is that Malcolm or the physios watch every session to comment on our technique or spot any warning signs of injury so it can be picked up early.

“We also run off road a fair bit to reduce the injury risk and increase stability and proprioception.”

NON’S TAKEAWAY TIPS

1. Train like a runner

You don’t need to do masses of work at your off-the-bike 10km speed; simply aim to improve your flat 10km running speed and good triathlon run times will follow.

2. Improve your technique

Use drills and have a coach look at your form on a regular basis to make sure you’re running as efficiently as possible.

3. Get stronger

Either get in the gym to improve your strength or attend circuit training sessions throughout the winter. This will help you to run off the bike when tired.

NON’S TRAINING WEEK

Monday  
Steady 45min run
60min run drills
60min strength and conditioning
3.5km recovery/technique swim
90min Wattbike interval session

Tuesday    
4km anaerobic swim (for example, 20 x 100m at best pace)
30-40min easy run
90min easy bike
Track session: max 5km at 3km (or faster) race pace

Wednesday   
4.5km anaerobic swim
70min steady run
3-4hr steady ride
60min strength and conditioning

Thursday  
4km technique swim
3hr steady ride
60min steady threshold-pace run

Friday
4.5km aerobic swim
60min strength and conditioning
40min easy run
90min easy ride

Saturday   
30min max, cross-country run at approx 10km pace
3-4hr steady ride
30min easy run

Sunday    
2-3hr off-road ride
3km technique or race-pace swim
90min steady run

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Image: Delly Carr/ITU, Jason Newsome