For this interview I got the chance to talk to international aquathlete and PE teacher Stef Jackson-Horner. Stef hails from the UK, is an accomplished aquathlete, and runs a great blog. She loves all types of sports and is constantly trying new things. Being a wife, PE teacher, blogger and aquathlete I thought it would be great to talk to Stef and get some insights on how she handles it all.
Interview with Stef Jackson-Horner
JG: Hi Stef, tell me a little bit about yourself and your background.
SJH: I am a secondary PE teacher, I love all sports, I’ve played in teams for most traditional games at some point in my life through school and uni and love outdoor activities as well. I try and fit in as many different activities in to my week as possible.
JG: If you didn’t answer this in the question above, what do you do for a living?
SJH: PE Teacher
JG: How did your journey into aquathlons start?
SJH: My dad entered a triathlon after 40 years of running and I thought I’d join him. I did quite well, I came second even though I was on my husbands bike (I couldn’t sit down and reach the pedals as it was so big) even now I’ve never really got in to road biking, I love mountain biking but road biking isn’t something I fancy doing each weekend so Aquathlons make sense.
JG: Any tips for an age-grouper going to nationals or worlds?
SJH: Easier said than done but try and forget it’s a big deal. My first Europeans I was so nervous and didn’t really get the opportunity to enjoy the event as I was too busy being worried. Year two though I felt like I knew what was going on, I wasn’t worrying about each and every tiny aspect so I was able to soak up the atmosphere.
JG: Being an international aquathlete and blogger with a full-time job, how do you balance training? What is your schedule like?
SJH: Work comes first, it has to it pays the bills. Training always comes second though, making tea, tv, social life, always comes after the session has been done. Each day I either run to swimming or do a longer run apart from Fridays which is my strength and conditioning day. I find running to swimming is a easy way to sneak in a longer and harder session. It also means I meet my husband at the pool and get to train with him which is nice.
JG: How did you keep motivation during training for a big race? What keeps you going now? Has there been times where you wonder, “Why am I even doing this?”
SJH: I actually really enjoy it, I know how good it is for me and I am so competitive I am always wanting to beat my previous session. That is my main driving force. Don’t get me wrong a long day at school, parents evening or late meetings take their toll but I do find it relaxes me so more often than not I really enjoy my sessions.
JG: Best advice for any aspiring multisport athlete?
SJH: 100% try it first before launching in to a race. Run to the swimming pool (or home!) go on a bike ride and then run a couple of Km. You never get over how dreadful you feel in the transition, muscles that weren’t being used in the first leg feel like they’ve disappeared and you question every single time how are you going to get through the next leg. Don’t panic though your body gets used to it and your legs don’t fall off.
JG: Planning on any races in the near future?
SJH: I am looking it to the Redbull Neptune Steps in March it looks incredible!
JG: Who is your favorite multisport athlete?
SJH: Jess Ennis Hill is the absolute best. To be so good at so many very individual events is verging on unbelievable, she is a hero.
JG: Favorite snack for hard training days?
SJH: Chia charge original bars. I love them.
JG: Favorite flavor of Gatorade?
SJH: Couldn’t say don’t ever have it.
JG: What is your gear? Both training and race day.
SJH: Training I rely on my two fav pairs of fell shoes. One Haglofs and one Salomon, both are brilliant and I rotate them around simply which has dried out first. Swimming it is all about AquaSphere, my Phantom wetsuit is my favourite thing i own. Having blue arms means my husband can spot me in races amongst all the black and it’s slick coating streamlines you through the water and makes transition so easy.
JG: What is the strongest part of your aquathlon? Your weakest? Why? How are you working on improving the worst part?
SJH: Swimming is and has always been my strong part, I’ve swam for clubs since I could walk and this is in my blood. I find I’m naturally strong in the arms. Don’t want to risk it but never pick up any injuries in this aspect or have any problems. Running is a whole other world, I think because it’s so harsh on the body it wears you down so much more quickly, running 4/5 times a week takes it toll on the legs, hips and mind. I’m working on my hip strength, have been for a while and it seems to be getting there. Running is just so individual and hard to compare one day with the next. Every route, day, weather conditions, your feelings, previous sessions, all play a huge part on how the run goes which swimming and other sports don’t seem to have. This takes some getting used to and beating your self up over it doesn’t change it. Trust me.