Will Clarke

Will Clarke

Will Clarke is an elite triathlete. He is two-time British National Triathlon Champion and was World and European U23 Champion in 2006.

He was named International Triathlon Union Rookie of the year in 2006, and then in 2007 he finished 5th in the World Championships.

Will got into triathlon aged 16, having taken up swimming at the age of 7 and running at age 11. He was on the British Triathlon Development Programme at Loughborough University, and combined this with studying.

After University he stayed training in Loughborough, but after the 2008 Beijing Olympics he changed coaches and is now coached by Michelle Dillon.

In October 2010 he got married to Clare, and then spent the winter training on the Gold Coast in Australia.

You can follow his progress on his blogs:



And on Twitter:

Will Clarke Interview

Tell us a bit about your training group, what it is like being coached by Michelle Dillon , and who do you train with?

I'm coached by Michelle, I thought I'd pick up with her just over a year ago after I was removed from funding after a bad year.  I needed new motivation and a shift from the usual grind here in Loughborough.  

I have been great friends with Michelle for years now and her fiance Stu Hayes is one of my best friends and probably the best training partner I could wish for.  

We worked really hard in Australia this year, pushing the body perhaps harder then I knew I could and we had a great year.  

We have Hollie Avil, Jodie Stimpson as well and a few other foreign elite performers in our elite training group so it's a great atmosphere and very motivating!  

Michelle is a very passionate and knowledgeable coach, she knows me and she knows what it's like to perform at the highest level so she's a extremely valuable source of information for me.

What are your favourite training sessions? What does an average training week consist of?

Will Clarke

We train a lot, when we are really in the routine we are hitting out around 32hrs a week. It's swim/bike/run everyday apart from a full rest day. Twice a week we are double running as well.  

It's a really hard routine but it works because the balance in there so you feel strong for the hard work and a bit tired for the easy miles the next day and smashed for the rest day!  

I think when you are training like this there is not many sessions that you can put your hand up and say you love because they all hurt a lot and it's a means to an end to race well.

However I enjoy any session when I am feeling good.  I've always loved the track work that we do and I quite like long hilly rides.

Ever struggle to motivate yourself? What do you do to keep yourself going?

I don't really struggle to motivate myself, there is too much at stake really.  The buzz you get from racing at a high level massively outweighs all the painstaking hard work that you have to do to get to that level.  

This is also my job so I have to get out the door to support my family, pay the bills and make a living! I also think of all the people who support me and I want to return the favour by giving them a big result to smile about!

You mention on your blog that you usually struggle with swimming but often race well. Why is that do you think?

Swimming has always been a challenge for me.  I was told a while back before my first big season that I wouldn't be able to keep up with the front swimming group because I wasn't swimming fast enough in training.  

I think because of this I just developed a great awareness of what it takes to come out the water high up in the race and almost how to blag yourself back into the race!  

I think it mostly comes from belief in yourself that you can do it and knowing how to train for open water swimming which really is just about how to keep your arms flaring over the strongest and also being on the startline ready for a fight in the swim!

On your blog you told us that at the recent Sydney World Cup (9th place finish) you turned up at the start to discover you had brought one racing shoe and one training shoe. And at a recent French GP race you said you weren’t ready at the start – you had your goggles on your head when the gun went. Are you always that scatty?! Have you had any other incidents like this?!

Yea, that is pretty scatty isn't it!  Triathlon is quite a tough sport to get organised for as there is so much going on and a lot of things to pack, you are bound to muck it up a few times!

This year you are racing for both French and German teams. Why did you decide to do this, and what’s it like, is there a difference between the two?

I race for German and French teams because it's good to have options for races for race tuning and fitness boosters, also these races are notoriously good earners!  

There's a lot of great races out there and a lot of temptation but it's important to keep focused on the main goal which is for me usually the World Championships Series, everything else, like these races are preparation and a bit of fun!  

The French Series has probably been around the longest and has the most prestige, it's really high level, fast racing with really strong fields and it's a great place to develop athletes.  

The Bundesliga doesn't have the depth of talent yet as the French series but it's great fun racing in awesome locations and I have made great friends from both teams.

Do you always have set race plan, or if not how do you decide what tactics to take?

I don't really have a set race plan to be honest, it kind of depends on what has been going on with my training and how fit I feel I am in one discipline.  If I know I am running well from my track sessions, I'll try to conserve as much energy on the bike as possible and go for the win.

However if my running is a bit off and I don't have the confidence with it I’ll try a move on the bike to get my advantage.  It's good to have an open mind sometimes but it's also important at times that you stick to your plan!

What is your best triathlon memory so far?

Will Clarke triathlete

My best Triathlon memory so far is probably from this year when I got 2nd in the Hamburg World Championships Series.  

In my career I had a lot of great results quite young and as you tend to think, I thought it'd just keep getting better and better but in sport that's not how it rolls and I definitely had a good 2 years of average performances where I had to go away and learn more about what I needed to do to take the next step.  

I'd dreamt many times of getting on the podium at a World Championships Series race but always woke up and it never happened, however this time it did and the feeling to finally be at this level was amazing.  

It took years of perseverance and accumulation of hard work and Hamburg is also the best place to do it as well in front of huge crowds!

Who are your biggest rivals?

I can't really single out one big rival.  The season is very long and there really is no one apart from Alistair and Johnny Brownlee who's mega consistent. You go through phases during the season where you have great form and patches with bad form.  I'm part of a big group of 10 or so guys and whoever has the best form on the day wins it.  Anyone in that group is a rival for me.

What about your best training buddy?

In Loughborough there are so many guys to train with, there's a huge number of Triathletes of all levels and really high quality distance runners to run with.

I do all of my training with Stu Hayes though. He's really strong, he'd rather die than miss a session and he's got a lot of experience to tap into.

Will Clarke and Stuart Hayes

It's important to keep it as fresh as possible though so we train with anyone who's up for a good laugh and can keep up. It's also important to cherry pick guys who can push me on to a new level in the hard sessions.

We’ve seen you round Loughborough on your scooter – have you still got it? Why a scooter? And now you have sponsorship from BMW you’ve got a fine set of 4 wheels – do you like driving?

Yep, I was lucky enough to get sponsored by BMW so I have a car which is way too fresh for me!  It's a 5 series GT, it's really a great car and so amazing to drive.  I love using this car and I'll be sad when after London it goes back to the garage.  

I also have a Red Vespa LX 125 which I totally love.  It's perfect for a town like Loughborough because you can just zip around in half the time.  Traffic doesn't exist and you can park right outside your destination.  Basically it's awesome for me with my lateness habit, and the student girls love it!  I give them a bit of a beep or a honk of my air horn occasionally!

You’re into your photography, do you get much opportunity to take photos on your travels? I love photography and Mark Pearce (Intelligent Triathlon Training's very own!) has been a bit of an inspiration for me in this area as he's taught me many techniques to practice on my travels.

Whenever we go away I try to learn a new technique to practice on that trip. I go to many great places so it's been really worthwhile for me to have a decent camera to capture the memories! Loughborough in the middle of winter is not so inspiring for me though unfortunately, unless it snows!

You‘ve obviously travelled the world a lot, where are your favourite places?

I've visited some great places. Probably one of the best is Stellenbosch in South Africa for triathlon and training camps. It's got everything, sun, sea, mountains and most importantly and maybe surprisingly incredible food!

Will Clarke Australia

I also love to visit the alpine races we have in Schliersee and Kitzbuhel.  

Outside of triathlon I love the Asian countries, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia et al.  Cheap, so much to do, great food and beautiful.

On your blog you mention that one year you’ll just travel the world, racing fun races. What races would these be/where would they be and why?

I've raced the ITU series for many years now, and I'm sure I'll be on it for another Olympic cycle as well.  It's such tough racing, you have to be on top of your game the whole season and each race holds so much significance. I love it, but it takes its toll and I won't do it forever.  ITU is one series out there, and the toughest.  

I'd like to explore other series. Such as 5150 racing, Ironman and just the classics like Escape from Alcatraz, St Croix, Norseman. We visit the same cities frequently each year and I look forward one day to being a Tri-Tourist, planning my season on races I just always wanted to do for enjoyment.

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?

I think the main quality I'll take away from my career in Triathlon is the hard work ethic that'll always carry with you. Keeping motivated and committed to achieve goals and never giving up on the dream.  The life of a Triathlete is extremely tough and so disciplined.  I've learnt a lot about myself and what I can do with hard work and motivation.

When you retire, what would you like to have achieved to make you satisfied with your career?

My ultimate dream is to be a dominant force in Triathlon. We are all in this to win big at the Olympics or World Championships but not everyone is talented enough to do it.

I hope I do have the ability but ultimately I'll be very happy if my head hits the pillow after a long career and I can safely say I became the best athlete I could possibly become and I had a s%$t load of fun doing it, making lots of great friends along the way, earning a living to support my family and inspiring some people to do the same.

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