It’s always nice to hear other people’s sporting stories especially as I coach huge range of different people. So I’m delighted to introduced Sarah McNaney.

Introducing Sarah  McNaney: Mother, Runner, Cyclist, Swimmer, Triathlete


So, where do I start…..How did I get to this place?  It was all supposed to be one little fun run and then back to normal living.  But no……I now appear to have done an Ironman and another iron distance is looming!

I started exercising 20 years ago.  I did the Coventry fun-run and quite enjoyed it despite it only being 4 miles.  To me however, it was as tough as a marathon! I was not put off.  I did another fun run.  I joined a running club.  The bug had bitten.  From this point on, over the years, my enthusiasm for sport has increased.  Not only for taking part but also watching it.  I always hated the Olympics or other athletic competitions.  Now I am glued to them when they are on and have been inspired by many runners, triathletes and cyclists over the years.  Paula Radcliffe, Jonnie Peacock, Chris Froome, the Brownlees, Jodie Stimpson to name but a few.  Many local people have inspired me and encouraged me with my endeavours but I won’t embarrass anyone by naming them!

Over the years I have taken part in many races……swimming, running and triathlons.  All have had their highs and lows.  From finishing my first ever marathon, to falling over the start line and cutting my knees and elbows in the Paris marathon, to completing my first triathlon (Cov Tri Sprint – first ever one!).

But the icing on the cake was Barcelona Ironman in 2016.  Nothing could match that feeling of hearing your name when you cross that line having been on your feet for such an amazing amount of time.  I will forever cherish that moment.  Especially as it was done with so many friends both on and off the course.  We were all superstars on that day.

I always said that I would just do the one full distance but for some reason I entered Outlaw Full in Nottingham in July 2018. (I should never have had that 2nd glass of red wine!). Not quite the beautiful surroundings of Barcelona but being closer to home, family and friends will be able to come and cheer me on.  And besides, the distance and training will be more or less the same as before, only this time I want to do better!!!

So, as before, I decided that I needed the discipline of a coach and am under the wings of Penny who is trying her best to get the most out of me.  I find that having a coach for something as big as these events is vital.  I know its personal choice but having the structure of sessions that are designed specifically for you and your needs are just perfect and I feel that I respond better to having it all set out for me rather than ‘making it up as I go along’.  It could be so easy to ‘wing it’ and hope that on the day you have done enough but when you are spending so much money on such big races, surely making sure that you get to the start line race-fit is just as important.

The sessions that are set are varied and can never be described as boring.  There are no sessions that I really hate doing.  I suppose that I like ‘time trials’ the least as I hate being under pressure to ‘compete’.  Daft really as during the ultimate goal, I will be competing!  Many a session I find hard though.  Doing speed sessions whilst out running can be a challenge sometimes although my background is running so I should find these easier.  I love the open water sets that I have to do (once the water has warmed up that is).  The camaraderie on the decking before and after is the best – even more so when cake and coffee is on offer!

I think my favourite days are my long cycle rides though.  I came to cycling late and despite having had my confidence knocked by a fall over the handlebars which resulted in stiches in my face, I keep trying to get better on the bike.  I don’t think I’ll ever be the best but it won’t be for the want of trying!    I think I’ll have that on my gravestone eventually…….’she was certainly an athlete that tried her hardest’!!!!!!

I always read through my up and coming sessions with relish.  I never look and think, oh that’s easy.  I always have this urge to prove to myself that I can do what I do and will always try 100%.  I may fail at some tasks but I will always try.  I think for me personally, its an age thing as well……I am always so pleased when I complete something, it could be a race or a really hard training session and all because I’m on the wrong side of 50!!  You have to believe in yourself.  The one thing that I say to myself constantly is ‘I can and I will’.  I had this engraved on my ‘RoadID’ bracelet so that these words stay with me.  After all, if I don’t complete the tasks set, there’s no-one to blame but myself.

Doing what I am doing, you need the right tools.  I don’t necessarily mean top of the range this, that and the other.  I don’t have an endless supply of money so purchases have been made along the way that I feel are good.  A decent bike, a good pair of trainers, a reasonable wet-suit.  I did buy a turbo 2 years ago (courtesy of ebay) and a second hand bike (courtesy of ebay) that have proved a god-send.

Footnote from Penny: It’s 2020 now and if it hadn’t been for co-vid Sarah would have been racing at Ironman Copenhagen and is already talking about what to do in 2021. I think it’s true to say she’s got the bug!