Knutsford Tri Club is delighted to officially welcome pro-Ironman triathlete Paul Hawkins to the club.
Paul joined us in 2013 and will be competing as a KTC triathlete for the 2014 season. In fact many of you will have seen that Paul has already helped us to some early season honours having won Wilmslow Sprint Tri overall in May and being a part of the first placed team for KTC alongside John Metcalfe and Lucy Scott and then following this up with a win at The Outlaw Half at the beginning of June, setting a new course record in the process.
So, we thought we’d take the opportunity to share some of Paul’s experience and knowledge around training, coaching and competing, with the rest of the club.
For those of you that don’t know much about Paul:
Name: Paul Hawkins
Occupation: Professional Ironman triathlete and triathlon coach
Turned Pro: January 2011
Background: Paul served as a Royal Marines Commando from 2000 until 2005 when he left to pursue a career as a personal trainer. In January 2011 Paul began training as a full time triathlete and has high hopes for a successful future
Quintana Roo (bikes)
Epix Gear (custom tri and cycle gear)
When did you do your first triathlon? Which one / where was it?
My first tri was Chirk Triathlon, it’s my home town. I remember blagging a mountain bike off my mate the day before as I didn’t have a bike!
What attracted you to first start competing in triathlons?
I used to work at the Leisure Centre and my manager got me entered. I swam competitively as a kid and ran for the county, so I had a bit of a head start. From the first race I was hooked and never looked back!
When did you do your first Ironman? Which one was it?
It was Challenge Roth in 2008. Amazing event, I did it in 9hrs 11 mins and remember being disappointed as I wanted a sub-9. I learnt a hell of a lot about the sport that day – pacing and nutrition especially.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Consistency is key. Training consistently week after week after week is what makes us reach our potential. There is no magic secret session – just blood, suffering and hard graft.
Taking the plunge:
It seems quite a big decision to turn Pro – why did you decide to do it?
I’ve always believed I was good enough, even in my first season I expected to win every race. It wasn’t a hard decision – you only have a pretty short time on this planet and I want to do as much as possible in it. I would rather try and fail than never try at all.
Financially it’s very tough though and it’s more survival than making money, which is the hardest part of being Pro.
How has your life /commitment had to change since doing that?
I have more time available to train and recover which is great although I still work training a number of athletes and I have three young children who take up some time, so it all requires some juggling.
What does a typical training week look like for you? How many hours do you train?
I never look at my training hours as it’s something that you can chase and obsess over. I would guess I probably do around 25-35 hours depending on the focus.
I coach myself and have a general outline of my weekly plan with a key focus but have learnt to be more flexible and listen to my body much more nowadays.
I generally spend around 60-70% of my time on the bike, and include 1-2 strength and conditioning sessions a week that is often neglected by many triathletes.
How’s it going:
How many IM distance races have you done?
I’ve done 8 so far.
What is your best IM result to date? (time and finishing position)
3rd at Ironman UK is my best performance to date.
Time wise I have always opted to race the tough hilly ones so I don’t have a ultra quick time. I think I did Bolton in 9.03.
I plan to race IM Sweden in August and hopefully get a quick time. I’ve got a goal of sub 8:30 and to set a new Welsh record.
What is your biggest achievement in triathlon so far?
I’ve not achieved it yet! I’m normally happy for an hour or two after the race then I look to the next one and how I can improve.
Likes & dislikes:
Swim / bike / run – which is your favourite discipline and why?
I enjoy all three, but I really enjoy the bike above anything else. It’s probably the sense of freedom and ability to go wherever I want and clear my head.
And which is your least favourite?
Recovery! It’s the one area that I’ve neglected the most and struggle to do enough of.
What is your favourite training session?
I enjoy group sessions the most, chaingangs and group rides that end up with a 100% effort burn up at the end. Competition gets the very best out of everyone and is great fun.
What is your least favourite?
There isn’t a session that I don’t enjoy. Long runs can get boring at times, but with Tatton Park and The Edge to play in time can fly by.
Which is your favourite IM distance race so far and why?
IM Wales. It’s not just because it’s my home race, the course is brilliant and tests everyone to the limit. The atmosphere, especially running through the town, is amazing.
Which race anywhere in the world that you haven’t done yet would you like to do and why (excluding Kona)?
There are too many. Top of my bucket list is:
- Challenge Wanaka (New Zealand)
Targets & plans:
Which races are you planning to compete in in 2014?
As I have flexibility on entering now that I’m a Pro, I now race when I feel I’m in the shape to win the race.
My original plan was IM Bolton in July but having had a setback injuring my glute at Lanzarote I’ve now targeted IM Sweden in August with a goal to get under 8:30.
After that I will see how recovery goes and plan for the next one.
What are your key goals for 2014?
In 2014 my goal is mainly to get back to racing. In 2013 i pushed myself too hard after breaking my collar bone and wiped myself out with chronic fatigue, which took 6 months to get over.
So in 2014 my goal is to get back to the sharp end and get higher up the podium.
What are your plans for 2015 and beyond?
2015?? It depends on how this year goes!!
I would love to target Kona points and reach Kona. To qualify for Kona as a professional you need to get a certain number of points and to do that you have to get 5 good finishes and the top 50. This requires a large financial sponsorship investment for travel and accommodation so will see if I can find some financial backing.
What piece of advice would you give to someone new to triathlons?
Get involved with a triathlon club and find some training partners.
There are plenty of distances and events around nowadays catering for all abilities. When I started I began racing the shorter distance and built up from there.
What advice would you give to triathletes thinking about giving an Ironman a go?
It’s a big commitment and can be daunting. I started racing the shorter distances first and built up my strength and endurance over a couple of years, gradually preparing my body for the task.
It’s a long day’s graft but well worth the sacrifice and gives you bragging rights for life. Be patient and build into it. Endurance is built over time, so give your body time to develop and build that diesel engine.
Motivations & inspiration:
Who / what motivates or inspires you?
My motivation is that I hate losing and want to win everything! The Mrs says I think everything is a competition and she’s probably right!
Who do you most admire in the world of triathlon and why?
Being an ex-Marine the likes of Joe Townsend and the rest of the guys show what true determination is all about. These guys were unfortunate to be injured in Afghanistan or Iraq and are now defying everyone and competing at Ironman.
From a Pro perspective ‘Macca’ (Chris McCormack – Aus) and ‘Crowie’ (Craig Alexander – Aus) are superb ambassadors of the sport, true professionals, ‘Macca’ especially. He has a great understanding of the mental battles as this sport is more psychological than physical, and loves to play mind games with his opponents.
Who are your sporting heroes outside triathlon (and why)?
I’m a big fan of Graeme Obree. He was a legend who always thought out of the box and wouldn’t conform to the norm and the only person I would put money on that has never taken any magic pulls in professional sports.
He’s had some pretty dark days and he is still at it now, gunning for another speed record. I would love to pick his brains as his knowledge in the sport is above and beyond anyone else.