“You don’t need all the gear!”
Scimitar Ambassador Kathy Stringer tells us a little about her career, her sporting journey, and what she’d recommend to others who are looking at getting into duathlon.
I currently live in Bristol and work as a Producer for an equestrian production company. My job can vary from being in the office 24/7, to travelling around the UK non-stop to film equestrian events, products and people. In recent years I’ve tried to combine my love for storytelling with my passion for sport and have produced a couple of pieces about the benefits of swimming for SwimWales, and this year documented Rhys Jenkins, an ultra-endurance athlete, break the record for the fastest run around the entire Wales Coastal Path (watch this space!).
Following stories like this and being able to share them with others is why I absolutely love what I do, though of course the long hours and constant travel can be detrimental to my training at times. It’s hard to find a work/life/training balance when they all merge into one!
When did you start running?
I started running when I was nine years old – my parents used to take my brothers and I to the local athletics club. Before then I’d always swam (I have very broad shoulders which have lots of benefits for swimming…not so much for running and cycling!) but our pool closed down for a short time to be renovated. When this happened, my parents sent us running, simply to keep us active and fit, but after a while we all decided that we much preferred the track to the pool. When the pool reopened, none of us went back and have continued to run ever since!
I still remember my first ever XC race. I was 11 years old and wearing a club vest that was about three sizes too big for me. The course was essentially around the perimeter of some football fields and looking back was probably about 1.5km, but at the time I remember it feeling like a marathon distance. I won the race and my parents gave me a huge hug afterwards. I still remember the overwhelming feeling of pride and joy from winning the race and couldn’t wait for the next one. I was always competitive due to having three older brothers, but that buzz from winning an actual race and receiving a medal is what keeps me motivated still to this day.
Can you tell us a bit more about what you do now?
Up until four years ago, running had been my only discipline and, knowing that I wasn’t going to get into the GB team any time soon, I turned to multi-sport and bought my first ever (adult) bike to keep things interesting. Cycling was completely alien to me and a nasty fall when I was younger (which ended in seven stitches in my face), had always caused me to be extra anxious when around bikes. I was determined to overcome the fears and started out just by cycling around local parks in converse, before moving onto clipping in, and then eventually going out for proper rides on the roads.
It wasn’t long until I was completely hooked.
Compared to running, you can venture further and travel faster and it gave me an adrenaline rush that I’d only ever experienced speeding down a snowy slope on skis. It also injected life back into my training plan because it didn’t feel like every day was the same thing.
About a year into my new-found love affair with my bike, I entered my first duathlon. I still remember the race-day nerves and not really knowing what I was doing. I didn’t fully understand some of the rules such as the mount/dismount line, or when I could take my helmet off and where it had to go, it was all a huge learning curve. But that day I came in first for my age category despite having zero expectations. Standing on the podium – I was buzzing! It had been a while since I’d won anything and I knew that I wanted to take it further. After that event I did more and more research about duathlons and found that there was an opportunity to compete for GB in my age group. I made that my focus for 1.5 years until it became a reality.
Any advice for someone who wants to get into duathlons?
You don’t need all the ‘gear’ and fancy, expensive bikes to take part. For my first duathlon, the only new kit I bought was a discounted tri suit because I didn’t fancy running 10k with cycling shorts on! I didn’t have aero bars (I had never trained with them so it would have been reckless to race with them), I didn’t have elastic laces (didn’t even realise it was a thing) I didn’t have a number belt (another competitor let me borrow his spare one when he saw me pinning my number to my suit) and I definitely didn’t own any race shoes, helmet, or glasses! Yet I still won!
As long as you have a bike, a pair of trainers and a will to finish, you’ll do just fine.
My favourite Scimitar products:
- Neck Warmer: This item is so versatile. I don’t know what I did before I owned one! I wear it all year round and not just when I’m doing sport. I’ve worn it as an ear warmer on cold winter rides, a neck warmer on autumn runs, a headband on film shoots, replaced scarves with it on chilly walks and this year even used it as a face mask. It folds down to nothing and is super lightweight so it’s an essential item whenever I’m going for a cycle / run / walk / adventure.
- Running Long Sleeved T-Shirt: I find it difficult to find tops that cater for my long-limbed arms but I love the extra long sleeves on this. It can be worn on its own on a chilly summers evening, or used as layer on top of another t-shirt.
- Running Leggings: I’ve written ‘running leggings’ but in reality I wear these for so many activities (yoga, S&C, eating breakfast…) They have a tied waistline which stops them from dropping down and the material is the perfect balance between ‘not too hot for workouts’ but ‘not too thin for squatting’….
- Rucksack: These are new for 2021 and excite me so much. Made from 100% recycled materials, they’re stylish, colourful, practical, and affordable, meaning that there are no compromises to be made…win win for everyone!
Get in touch if you have any further questions about duathlons, or any of the products I’ve mentioned above!
Follow me on Instagram: @strngr_run.