Lucy Charles on Kona, winter training… and swimming 100km a week

We chat to Lucy Charles about her amazing second place at the Ironman World Championships, and what the winter holds...


Congratulations on your 2nd place at Kona – how are you celebrating?


Thank you very much! Reece and I was away from home for almost 3 months preparing for Kona so just to come home has been really nice. We have been celebrating with all our friends, family and management.

Will you take a break from training? 

Yes I will take a couple of weeks off training or well I will do just very light training to keep me sane. Full training will recommence soon as I start working towards rebuilding for next season.

How much training do you do through the winter? 

I still train a lot throughout the winter but the volume is lower as I don’t get out on the roads due to the British weather.

How does your training differ in the winter, compared to race season?

In the winter my training is far less structured and I normally will add in some fun events like my local cross country running league. Whereas in the race season every session has a specific purpose and is much more calculated.  

What are your favourite off season training sessions?

Zwift is a huge part of my training regime and has been for almost 18 months. It became a life saver for me around June 2016 when I had a stress fracture as I was unable to run. I was told I shouldn’t risk riding outside but the turbo would be fine. This was where Zwift became an integral part of my training. I knew I couldn’t run so I wanted to really improving my cycling. I have since recovered from the stress fracture but I have continued to Zwift on a daily basis.

How will this winter differ from last year’s?

I will more or less stick to the same training regime as last winter as that seemed to set me up for a pretty good season this year! I am also focusing on getting strong and turning my weaknesses into strengths.

What off-season advice would you give other triathletes?

Keep your off season training fun and enjoyable. Train with others where possible to keep you motivated. Have clear goals and targets so you keep your focus.

  How much have your sponsors helped you? 

This time last year I couldn’t afford to go and race. Reece [Barclay, Lucy’s coach and fiancé] and I were working as personal trainers at the time, we had to sell so much of what we owned to get by. There was so many times where we thought we should throw in the towel and commit to full time work but thankfully we persevered. After some good results we eventually got some major sponsors on board who started to make our lives a little easier.  

Is it true you used to swim 100km a week in your ultra swim days? 

Yes, back when I was a full time swimmer I would swim between 75-100km per week!

How did you manage to fit that in? 

It was very difficult to fit that in. I was studying at sixth form college, swimming at 5am for over 2 hours then heading into college. After studying I would drive to the gym train in there for over an hour before swimming again for 2 hours. It was full on both physically and psychologically. Staring at a pool black line isn’t very mentally stimulating and swimming itself is a pretty lonely sport, particularly being a distance athlete.

  Did that help you cope with the demands of Ironman?

  100%. I love the variety that triathlon offers, the mix of three sports feels like a luxury coming from a swim background. I am used to committing my whole life to training so Ironman can very easy to me. Despite how full on Ironman training is it’s still far more social than back when I was a swimmer.


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