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To recognize International Women's Day, IRONMAN did a virtual sit-down with three of triathlon's most inspiring women. Read on to find out their views on life and triathlon.by Jennifer Ward
Christina Hopper: Mother of three and the first female African-American fighter pilot to face combat in a major war.Has triathlon altered or affected how you see yourself as a woman? If so, how? It has altered how I see myself as a person. I was an athlete when I was young, but after completing college, I didn't really compete in sports anymore. When I took up triathlon three years ago, I rediscovered a part of myself that I thought had died. It has given me a renewed sense of confidence and vigor. It has given me renewed energy and helped me to see that age is a state of mind. What has been one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced personally as a woman, an athlete, or both? One of the biggest challenges I have faced as a triathlete is balancing life demands with all of the training and trying to reach my goals. In order to garner and maintain the support of my husband and family, I had to decide that my goal was not going to be "to be the best." That goal would have required me to put my life on hold to train. Instead, I set the goal that I would "be the best that I could be within the time constraints of my life." I set realistic goals within those constraints and feel good about what I was accomplishing both at home and in sport. What are your tips for balancing training with a full life? I think one of the most important things to remember is that triathlon is not your life, it's just a part of your life. If you keep that in perspective, things fall into their proper place. You don't need to fit someone else's training plan into your life. Do what makes sense for your schedule. For me, that usually means getting up early and getting training in before my kids are up and before work. What do you wish you’d known when you started triathlon? What’s your best tip for a first-time female triathlete? I wish I would have known that it is better to go into a race slightly underprepared than it is to go in overtrained. There were so many times when I thought I just needed to get in a few extra miles or to go a little bit faster than planned and then I ended up injured. Now I live by the motto: "train smarter, not harder." Being strategic in training and listening to your body when it tells you to back off or rest goes a long way toward longevity in the sport and success in reaching your goals. As part at Women For Tri, we are doing a "Women for Tri Workout Wednesday" where we encourage women to celebrate the day by working out together, empowering each other, and sharing their photos. Is there anything you’d like to to say to all the women working out on that day? I, too, have a group of friends I train with regularly. We call ourselves the Before Breakfast Club. Getting up early and training with them is therapy for me. I think it is wonderful to train with other women to share ideas, successes and failures, and encouragement. It is a natural forum to learn from each other and to celebrate the achievement of goals. Doing life together with others and building others up makes life worth living.
Shirin Gerami: The first woman to represent Iran in a triathlon.
Has triathlon altered or affected how you see yourself as a woman? If so, how?Originally from: http://www.ironman.com/triathlon/news/articles/2017/03/international-womens-day-round-table.aspx#ixzz4akIexN29
It has definitely affected me as a human being. I feel it has given me a more positive outlook on life, and given me more confidence in working hard towards my goals.What has been one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced personally as a woman, an athlete, or both? The constant labelling, stereotyping, and boxing into how/what/who I ought to be, and the challenge of concentrating on who I am and the person I want to grow into, rather than binding myself to what other people expect and assume me to be. That has actually been a huge challenge.
What are your tips for balancing training with a full life? I wish I had the answer! I’m still trying to figure that out myself. What do you wish you’d known when you started triathlon? What’s your best tip for a first-time female triathlete? I have loved the journey exactly as it has been. The thrill and curiosity of the unknown, the surprises, the growth, the ups, downs and up-side downs. Passing on what Paula Newby Fraser has always told me: "don’t overthink it."