Liz Blatchford is a British triathlete. She was born in the UK and represents Great Britain, but lived in Australia from the ages of 1 – 20.
She is coached by Ben Bright , and lives part of the year in Loughborough, UK, part of the year on the Gold Coast in Australia.
She studied marine biology at university, and her hobbies are surfing, reading, scuba diving and shopping.
You seem to have had the usual sporty childhood in Australia, so why did you pick triathlon?
I tried my first triathlon at age 14, my friends from the local surf life saving club were taken part so I thought I would give it a try. I was already competing in Surf Life Saving and Athletics so already had some ability in 2 of the 3 legs, but when I won my first race I was hooked.
What is it that you love about the sport that keeps you going, especially during hard times of injury, constant travel etc?
The life style triathlon brings is amazing, travelling the world, see new countries and cultures, meeting new people, staying fit and healthy and getting paid to do it. Plus that constant feeling that there is always something to improve on, pursuit of excellence I guess.
You split your time between Loughborough in the UK and the Gold Coast in Australia. We know you love the outdoor lifestyle, the ocean, surfing, camping, so how do you survive when you’re based in Loughborough?!
I do miss the beach and lifestyle of the Gold Coast when I am in Loughborough, but I am also aware that this is my job and it can’t be all about lifestyle.
There are times where we travel to not so inspiring places for racing and training, but that is all part of it. If you can push yourself to train in less than perfect conditions at times it allows you to appreciate the special places.
There is a great training group and set up at the Loughborough centre, my coach is there and all the support I need to race through the season. Plus Loughborough is beautiful in its own right.. just don’t ask me to stay through winter;-)
You‘ve obviously travelled the world a lot, where are your favourite places?
There are so many, St Croix (Virgin Islands) Hawaii, New York, Boulder, Switzerland, Bali, Morocco and the Gold Coast. Haven’t really narrowed that down have I?!
What are your favourite training sessions? What does an average training week consist of?
I really enjoy long rides in the Swiss mountains or Gold Coast hinterland.
I also love running fast (when my body is not injured). Favorite run session would be 25 x 400m on the track off 2min. It hurts like hell but its obviously very measurable and gives a huge sense of achievement when I hit my times.
A normal week would consist of 5 or 6 swim sessions, 3 key sessions of 5-6km and 2-3 of 3-4km less intense.
Biking around 10-12hrs, long riding, time trialing and some criterium racing for ITU.
Running 40-60kms build runs, hill reps, running off the bike, intervals, long run.
Do you always have set race plan, or if not how do you decide what tactics to take?
In ITU races I always try to swim hard and come out as close to the front as possible, then try to get a group away on the bike.
If this works, I work hard to help increase the gap to the chase groups and hope I can run well. If it comes together and there is a big group on the bike I will try to conserve energy, stay out of trouble and wait for the run.
I prefer to work hard swim, bike and run as it suits my strengths.
What is your best triathlon memory so far?
Winning any race is a great feeling, but maybe winning the Salford World Cup in 2005 with my Mum, husband and grandparents watching was pretty special.
One of the sponsors listed on your website is Chocolate Graphics – how did that come about, and do you get an endless supply of chocolate from them?!
Unfortunately I am no longer sponsored by Chocolate Graphics, but they have been a fantastic supporter of me and triathlon.
They have sponsored a group of girls including Emma Snowsill, Emma Moffat, Annabel Luxford and others over the past 5 years.
To be honest I never received any chocolate! My contact and sponsor was more the head offices than any actual choc producing facility – unfortunately, or maybe fortunately as chocolate is definitely one of my vices!
You’re known for wearing pink/colourful race suits, designed by your sponsor – bringing a bit of glamour to the world of triathlon, was this your idea?
Wearing pink was originally part of being sponsored by Chocolate Graphics. John, the owner wanted us girls to stand out in the ITU pack and I think we achieved this! I think I will continue to race in pink suits when I can as it has kind of stuck.
I don’t really like the fact we have to race in country colours for every WCS race. I feel we all look very similar and it also limits us with sponsorship.
You have a TV channel on You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/user/lizblatchford) . We particularly liked ‘Pockets of Morocco’, a video made during your recent end of season holiday. Is this a potential future career or is it your husband who puts these together?!
Glen my husband has been making the race videos for me this year. At each race he has been running around trying to get footage of me to put a video together so my supporters can see where I have been racing and how I have been going.
It’s been a great tool for my website, sponsors and friends.
Our end of season trip to Morocco was amazing and I think Glen captured a bit of this in the video. He did however miss the best surf as neither of us wanted to film, we were out in the water!
When you retire from triathlon where would you like to live? And what would you do?
I think we will live in Australia as both Glen and my families are here (apart from my sister in London). I love the beach lifestyle we enjoy on the Gold Coast. So if we did live elsewhere it would need to be by the ocean (with surf!).
I am looking to start some online coaching in the next 12 months and would like to be able to pass on what I have learnt over the past 10 years of being a professional athlete.
I think I could be a good mentor to some of the younger females starting out in their triathlon careers. I have had lots of highs and many lows over the past 10 years, so it would be good to pass on some knowledge.
I would also like to race Ironman distance after ITU, before ending my triathlon career. I also have ideas of becoming a primary school teacher….maybe. O yeah and have kids. Hmm, yes got some decisions to make!
What skills/qualities do you think you’ve gained from being a full-time athlete that you could take into the next stage of your life?
You learn so much as a professional athlete. You are your own boss and the buck stops with you, if you don’t train hard and smart or make mistakes in races you don’t get paid, full stop.
So this forces you to learn about yourself, learn from mistakes and successes and continue to look for ways to improve on your performance.
You also learn an incredible array of life skills from marketing and PR, to finances, to travel agency skills (not to be underestimated!), public speaking, general time management and organization, dealing with some incredibly high pressure situations and how to push yourself both mentally and physically.
By the time I retire I will have travelled around the world more than 15 times and lived and trained on every continent on earth and I believe this will be a major asset for me in the future.
When you retire, what would you like to have achieved to make you satisfied with your career?
My goals for my last few years of triathlon are to make the 2012 Olympics and perform to my best whatever position that gives me. I then want to be successful over iron distance and try to win a World title.
What advice would you give to someone just getting into triathlon?
There is so much advice; magazines, websites, technique, power meters, bikes etc, some great some not so much! Take it on board but don’t get carried away with it as it can be overwhelming, after all it is just Swim, bike, run, right?! Find a mentor you trust and simply try to enjoy it.Home › Interviews › Liz Blatchford: Top of Page