About Me

Endurance Athlete

I started triathlon in 2008 by turning up to a swim session Derby Triathlon Club. Two days later (10th July 2008) I took part in my first triathlon which was a regular training triathlon the Club ran called the Summer Series: I was second to last out of the pool; I put cycling shorts on over my swim trunks (the wrong way round); I then struggled to put a tight cycle top on a wet body and eventually I made it out of T1 in my trusty mountain bike shoes on my trusty aluminium road bike - it seemed everyone else had were on carbon speed machines.  Pedalling frantically I managed to catch up with someone and overtake him, only for him to then sit on my back wheel and thank me for riding on my hoods making it easy for him to draft (I didn't know he shouldn't have been doing that!). I duly got down on my drops (feeling a bit uncomfortable) and rode a bit faster dropping him off my wheel. I caught a few more people on the bike and after an extended T2 (putting on socks, tied my laces tightly) it was on to the run.  Out of the three at this time, running was my best discipline and it didn't take me long to get into my stride and I managed to overtake a few more people.  As I crossed the line I was in second place but absolutely miles behind the guy in first.  Now in transpired that the winner had not swum enough lengths in the pool ..... I had won my first triathlon!

It was from this low key, fun, mistake-ridden first attempt at triathlon that started me off into the world of endurance sport.

For the rest of 2008 and 2009 I completed as many duathlons, sprint and olympic distance races as I could and learnt a lot about triathlon and started to improve quite a lot.  The outcome of the 2009 was I became the National League Novice Champion and my performances contributed to Derby Tri Club winning the National League title.  I entered 2010 having done a lot of bike miles in the winter and in the process of effecting a change to my running gait.  I was looking forward to improving my performances from the previous season and the duathlons in the early part of 2010 went well.  However in May that year I fell off my mountain bike and broke my neck.  Fortunately after an operation to which involved inserting a metal plate in my neck and a lengthy spell in a neck brace I was ready to get back training just as the season was ending.  Unbelievably, there was an upside to this accident - I was actually fitter and stronger on the bike than before the accident!  The reason being, one of the few forms of exercise I could do was sit on the trainer and I did so virtually every day, sometimes for several hours watching awful TV movies.  That winter also saw the first of many cycling holidays to Lanzarote.

It was during 2010 that I took my first tentative steps into becoming a triathlon coach and at the end of the 2010 I also engaged a coach to get me ready for the 2011 season.  Having a supportive environment and being surrounded by the right people was critical in me developing as a athlete and coach.  Ian Hughes was the coach at Derby Triathlon that took that first swim session I attended back in 2008, he was the same person who persuaded me to do the first Summer Series race and with his wife Judith organised many of the Club activities which my partner, Sarah and I attended.  It was Ian & Judith that guided us around Lanzarote on that first trip and wrote me my first proper training plan.

2011 my A-race was Bala Middle Distance Triathlon, I had stuck meticulously to the plan and come race day I was fitter than I had ever been.  On race weekend though the entire UK experienced some unseasonably cold weather and as result the race there were an exceptionally high number of DNFs.  Unfortunately, I was one of these.  I was feeling really good on the bike, coping with the ice block feet and freezing hands, but I failed to spot a pot hole, got a puncture, and did not have sufficient dexterity in my fingers to change my tub hence my DNF.  I did head back to Bala in 2012 writing my own plan building on what Ian had set me.  Although I completed the race this time I went too hard on the bike and suffered on the run.  From these two races I learnt a massive amount about training specificity, consistency and race planning - whenever I attend a race, whatever the forecast I am prepared for most things.

From mid 2011 I was self coached and each season, as I became a better coach, I also became a better athlete.  One thing is absolutely key to the success as an athlete: there are no short-cuts - it requires a lot of hard work.

I have done my best to keep my Athlinks profile up to date so you can see the races I have competed in and my progression.  Click below to have a look.

Athlinks - Andy Thornton

The highlight and my best performances have come in 2014 and 2015.  In 2014 I started the season off with the London Marathon.  Correcting the mistakes I had made the previous year, I came home comfortably in 2:54:01 loving every minute of the run.  The main focus though for the season was my first iron distance race - IM Barceonla in October.  The marathon had been a way of keeping me focussed over the winter ready for the main event.  Again I self coached but given I had started to train to power on the bike I engaged a coach/mentor for the early part of my bike training in the form of Adrian Timmis.  I learnt a massive amount about myself as an athlete and as a coach during the whole of the 2014 season.  At the end of the race the result was 9:34:13 on my debut at that distance.  The race didn't go perfectly and I look forward to my next attempt at the distance - hopefully Challenge Wanaka 2017.  A unexpected bonus for this season was I won the National League Overall - 5 years after winning the Novice Trophy.

After such an intense year in 2014, I did complete a few triathlons in 2015 but they did not achieve the level of performance of the previous year and I focussed on my running.  Working on my run technique and fitness, I managed to set lifetime PBs (aged 41) in every distance I ran and also entered a lot more events for fun where the goal of the race was nothing more than to turn up, run and enjoy the scenery.  I still spent a huge amount of time riding but focussed on completing a few long distance challenges.

This incarnation of athlete profile is being written early 2016 and I am not sure exactly what this year holds.  I am fresh and ready to train but I am moving to New Zealand so that is the main focus.  When I get settled finding a coach and starting the training for Wanaka in a years time are the longer term focus.

Coach Andy T

- Bio on Coach Andy T coming soon -