In May this year, Lydia Dant from Cheltenham took the Lanzarote Ironman female title for the second year running, and she’s dead set on making it a hat trick in 2024. We decided to find out a little more about her inspirational journey.
What were you doing before you took up triathlon, Lydia?
I was working in a corporate firm. I felt like I was just going through the motions, really – work, car, house. Then I got involved with Passion Fit and it transformed my life and made me enact a sustained change. I took up triathlon seriously in 2019 and went professional in 2021.
What is Passion Fit?
It’s a Cheltenham-based triathlon coaching company run by Loren Ward and her husband, Tom, who’s my coach. The idea is to achieve accomplishment as part of a community, with a philosophy that’s very much applicable to all aspects of life, not just sport.
What’s the most difficult stage of the race for you?
The swimming. When I started training in 2019 I could barely swim, just splash around, so I had to train hard and that wasn’t easy in the pandemic as pools had closed. I’ll never be an elite swimmer like Lisa Charles, but I’ve knocked two minutes off last years’ time and am developing. You must pace the swim carefully because it can obliterate you, especially if the waters choppy. I like to feel the water, find my flow, and then focus on the next stage.
I won’t come out of the water first, but once I’m on the bike I’m thinking “OK, you’ve had your fun, guys. Now I’m on the hunt.”
Lanzarote is a brutal bike course – there’s climbing, wind, and heat, and it can take up to an hour longer than other Ironman courses. But it’s an honest course. There’s nowhere to hide.
You seem to talk about the mental aspects of training far more than the physical ones. Is that deliberate?
It’s certainly part of what Passion Fit teach. There’s obviously a physiological aspect, but mainly it’s about behaviours: finding a structure, sustaining performance levels and keeping my head as clear as possible. I prioritise, manage time and sleep, making sure I get 8-9 hours a night. I can’t afford to get lost in a Netflix show, so I set the alarm to go to bed!
There’s also a strong “why?” underpinning everything I do, and that helps understanding, as well as communication with my coach and others.
Where do you think other people fall down?
I can’t really say, but I know that you must be realistic in your aims, that there has to be balance in your life. That’s what works for me. I’ve had my blips, but when I do I go back to developing my behaviours.
What’s next, Lydia?
I’ve just launched a scholarship opportunity using bonus money that I’ve won, and that feels good: to invest in someone else’s journey. I’m also involved in a mentoring scheme for 18–23-year-olds.
I’ll be coming back to Lanzarote for the Ocean Lava in October, which is a great race, and I’ll be doing the 70.3 in March, too. Then, hopefully, it’s the hat-trick!
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