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BLIPS - Introduction to BLIPS and conversation with Katie Wright

Introducing BLIPS, a new podcast/interview series by athluxe, where we will be talking to a variety of creatives, athletes and influencers from various different industries spanning all sorts of topics.

Each podcast/interview will offer a 'blip' into a persons life sharing interesting, useful and fun stories, all within a short time frame.

So why short? The average person has an attention span of 8 seconds – yes 8 seconds – so we lose interest quickly if we know a video, programme or podcast is longer than 15 minutes and we don’t know how much of it will be relevant to us. Of course this doesn’t apply to intense dramas, hilarious TV programmes or gripping thrillers, which we find ourselves staying up till silly hours in the morning watching episode after episode but for our podcast series we feel short but sweet is the way forward.

Check out our Instagram for recorded podcasts and have a read through the interviews on our journal!

Kickstarting BLIPS with the lovely Katie discussing all things aquathlons and cows...

Hello and welcome to our new podcast series BLIPS where we will be having short yet insightful discussions with various different inspiring and active individuals and creatives. Today we are talking aquathlons with the lovely aquathlete Katie. I don't know if the term aquathlete actually exists but we're going to find out.

So how are you Katie?

I'm good thank you, I knew you were going to ask me something about the word aquathlon. I never actually know myself whether your supposed to pronounce it aqua-thlon or aquathlon or whether the word aquathlete actually exists either so yeah maybe someone else can tell me!

Yeah I cause I have no idea if aquathletes even a word but we'll go with it! So could you briefly introduce yourself and how you initially got into aquathlons and also could you explain briefly what an aquathlon actually involves as many people may not actually know?

Ok so aquathlon is a swim followed by a run which is different from swim-run because in swim-run you'll have more than one swim and more than one run but with aquathlon it's generally a 1km swim followed by a 5km run. So yeah swim then run! And how I got into it, I started off as a swimmer and I've been swimming since I was about 7, then I started doing athletics as a young teenager but both of them I was very much a sprinter so short distances and I did most of those till I was about 17. Like a lot of teenagers do I kind of fell away from doing it and had quite a bit of time out but always carried on keeping fit and swimming for fun although I probably never swam for fun in the way that most people would, I always kind of swam in a training style way because that's just what I'm used to.

When I was 35 and had children and wanted a new challenge again, I joined an athletics club and started doing longer distance road races - I think my sprint days are behind me! And I started getting a bit more into my swimming as well and someone mentioned that maybe I should have a go at 'Go Try' so I went and gave 'Go Try' a go, did a couple of those and realised yeah this might be something I might be quite good at, so started to looking at more events I could do.

Amazing - that's so fun! So have you always wanted to do an aquathlon from that point onwards or was there a certain point in your life when you thought I could do this and started training for one?

I never actually knew they existed and I know that sound ridiculous. When I was growing up, there were these people that road bikes and swam and ran and there was a club pack track near but I didn't really know much about what it was and didn't really pay much attention to it especially because I wasn't that great on the bike. I only realised in recent years that there was actually an event that didn't involve the bike. So yeah I kind of fell into it in that sense, if I'd known about it sooner, I probably would've done it! But yeah it's more the encouragement of other people and meeting new people that did it and got me started.

Fo r sure - I mean everyones heard of triathlons, marathons even like a decathlon y'know. The things that I suppose are in the Olympics or huge events but an aqauathlon, I'd never heard of it either until recently so it's very exiting! Have you ever had any coaches or have you always taught yourself?

I was coached at my athletics club, Peterborough athletics club, when I was a youngster as a junior and I swam under a coach, Brian Brinkley, at City of Peterborough Swimming Club for four years. As a grown up, I've pretty much coached myself. I get lots of help and advice from coaches at my club and then in the last year or so I've started getting coached weekly with Patrick, so I go and see him in the Summer and Spring at Pells Pool in Lewis and my running clubs Arena 80.

Amazing - that sounds so interesting and obviously it's been a weird year and we're all in a strange situation at the moment. Normally, would you train with other people or would you train on your own?

In terms of training for running, on a Monday I would do my club track session and I also help out with coaching and doing the warm up with so that would be with other people and then it very much depends on how it fits in with my schedule with family life and things like that. I do a lot of training on my own, a lot of my longer runs I'll do on my own and recently I've been training with a friend who's a similar speed to me and we help each other on for our intervals and fast pace stuff which has worked really well. Swimming, pretty much since I started, I've trained on my own apart from the sessions which I'll do with my coach which are part of a group but I'll still complete the session myself.

For sure! So when you train I'm guessing you do different distances in both swimming and running, so what's your favourite distance to run and favourite distance to swim?

Ahh well actually it's quite funny because I actually like the longer distance swims so in swimming I'd say my favourite distance is 5km so the longer distances in swimming, whereas in running I'm very much more suited to the shorter stuff so probably 5km again so if there was an event where you could run 5km and swim 5km that would be absolutely perfect for me I think!

For sure, like a good balance there I suppose! So when you go swimming, do you swim in the sea or do you go to the gym or?

Yeah so I do a bit of everything, I was very very much a pool based swimmer and that was all I did for years and even swimming outside in a lido was kind of like ooo outside but a couple of years ago I started to do a lot more sea swimming and got my first sea swimming wetsuit. So yeah in the summer, I love swimming in the sea, but I still wear a full wetsuit, rash vest, socks, gloves, hat, maybe 3 hats, even in the summer and I've really struggled this winter. I'd say the seas more for long training swims in terms of just being out in the elements and getting used to the cold and the conditions, whereas all my endurance training sessions I would do in the pool.

Amazing, so obviously you haven't had access to a pool over lockdown so how has your swimming training been? Have you been able to do any?

No and for anyone that follows me on Instagram they will see that I have moaned none stope about the fact that I can't swim. I've been the biggest baby ever about it. I've tried a few times to get back into the sea and I've done a couple of dips but in terms of putting my face in and swimming, I haven't done since lockdown. In December, when they opened the pools back up, I stopped going in the sea for a month and started just swimming in the pool again which is around 26/27 degrees whereas the sea at the moment is about 6 or 7 so once I tried to get back in the sea again after a month of 27 degrees, it was just never going to happen! So I can't wait [for things to open up again]!

So you're down south in Brighton, similar to us and the sea is freezing, its so cold! It's also cold when you get out of the sea, so it just takes so long to warm up!

That's my main problem, when you get out, you've got frozen hands and feet and can't actually get your wetsuit off to put normal clothes back on. I really struggle with that.

For sure! And then it takes all day to warm up again which is just not fun!

So on that note what would you say your toughest swim, doesn't have to be in a competition situation or in training but the toughest swim you've ever done?

I think it actually was in a competition, it was last year at the Eaton Dorney 5km swim. It was in September and I was wearing a wetsuit and I assumed that it might be quite a nice day, sunny, the water not too cold. But it was one of those really awful freak days where the wind was ridiculous, it was freezing cold, there were actually waves in a lake and it took me a good 20 minutes longer than I was hoping. I had to actually fall out of the lake at the end, I was so cold! It was about 13 degrees which for me to be in the water, for the length of time I ended up being in there for, was yeah.. a long time.

That just sounds awful! It's always the cold isn't it, it's just the worst thing! We all ned to move country I think, somewhere nice and hot!

So when it comes to running, what's the toughest run you've ever done, assuming you don't just run on the road and you go up on the South Downs which is much more hilly, what's the hardest run you've done?

So I think mentally, one of the hardest runs was actually a raod race and it was the biig half in London. Before that, I had done quite a few trail runs and I'd run other long distance events, but I'd always either not worried about the time and the pace and just doing it for the enjoyment and getting to the end. With trial running, you can't really be looking at your watch the whole time and worrying about pace with the hills and things but because this was a road race and I wanted to get a PB, I felt fit, I was very much focused on the pace. In first tunnel, well the first part of it, as I went into it the GPS in my watch fell out and I had no idea what I was running for the rest of the race and it really threw me. I just lost it really, I didn't really know what I was doing and just had a really really awful race. My time wasn't actually as terrible as I thought it might be but because I had no idea, I just kind of stopped trying, which is really bad and you must never do that, but yeah that's probably my toughest race mentally.

So how do you get through those mental blocks when you're running and think I just can't do this, there's that little niggle in your brain telling you that you can't do this, even though you know you can, how do you push through that?

This is a really hard one. I think sometimes remembering and focusing on the good training sessions you've had, remembering past positive experiences of getting through things before. The fact that you've managed to get through thing before so you will again and trying to switch your brain off and not listen to those internal voices which is hard but you can do it!

You can - it's an attitude isn't it! Having the right mindset, I guess is key particularly when you're running. Just to go in with the right mindset and hopefully come out with the right mindset when you finish.

I think with running you can also feed off of external things that are going on, so maybe the crowd, focus on something that's not just yourself. Sometimes that helps. Sometimes if I'm really tired or really struggling in a race, I start kind of cheering for other competitors and it's not me being particularly just nice to them, it's also me trying to spur myself on by encouraging them. So with running you can really use whats going on around you but with long distance swimming, I find it's harder as you're inside your own head and can't tell what's going on around you. So you really have to be good at motivation yourself rather than using the external influencers.

Super interesting, some things that I've never really thought about!

So have you got any funny or scary or crazy running, or swimming, memories from all your experiences you've had?

One time I came back and my husband looked at me and I was just covered in mud and leaves scratches and I'd gone off on a bit of a trail adventure. When I was marathon training, I needed to get quite long miles in and I didn't always plan my routes. So I'd end up in the South Downs, running along, thinking I'll go this way, that way, sometimes routes that used to be routes weren't always routes anymore. And I found myself in a field surrounded by a big group of cows and I'm not very keen on cows and I'm a little bit paranoid when it comes to cows so I was convinced that they were all looking at me and wanting to eat me. So I shot off running as fast as I could and obviously as soon as you start running they start thinking you're up to something and it was all just this horrible situation where I ended up behind a tree, poking my head out from one side and the cow was poking it's head the other side of me! I was terrified and I ended up rolling myself like army commando backwards down a hill through loads of brambles before picking myself up and taking myself home. Yeah I didn't look the best I've ever looked, scratches and brambles all over me!

I can only imagine! It's so funny because I don't think the cows, unless you show them fear, I reckon they just ignore you but you never think that because they're so big so you just don't know! It's so funny, my family are also very cow aware especially as there are so many runs that go through cow fields no so you have to kind of go with the flow! We've got dogs and we're always worried that the cows will be triggered by the dogs. No one really wants to be mulled down by a cow when they're just trying to run through a field!

No and it happens! I've never met anyone that's actually had it happen to them but you hear these horror stories of people being crushed by cows. I'll go out of my way, I've actually added miles to my run so I don't have to go through a field with cows in.

Yeah I guess you go back the way you've come and go around!

I would much rather do that and I'm so glad that I can run long distances just to add the extra miles on so I can avoid cows!

For sure! Thats so funny!

So a fun one to finish, what are your top three films or TV programmes and top three songs to run to or just to chill out to?

I don't watch a lot of films actually, I'm more into documentaries and things like that. Like music documentaries, I'm really sad, I love watching old Top of the Pops and stuff like that from the 80's. But films, yeah I'm not a massive film person, do you mind if I pass?

You can absolutely pass that one, totally fine! But yeah music?

Music wise, I think, I'm still back a few years, back to the fun times before I had kids! The music I listen to is kind of all before then. Me and my husband used to listen to a-lot of Muse when we first got together and going to see bands and things. That was one of the things I really get annoyed with myself about, I was at reading festival and Muse were heading up there and I didn't actually see them because I stayed in the tent area because we were just hanging out and chatting so I actually missed seeing them perform! So I say I was there, I saw them, but I didn't actually see them!

No that is the worst thing, you'll have to go to another one now that the festivals are opening up again!

Yeah exactly, I know I need to!

Amazing! Thank you so much for your time today Katie and we'll speak soon!

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