By Lucy Roberts 

It seems like Ruth Astle never used to get any sleep when she started getting into competing in triathlons – not only was she working 60 hours a week in the City, she also used to get up early in the morning to train in Richmond Park.

Ruth Astle

Ruth Astle

Now Astle has reduced her hours and is concentrating on being a professional athlete, something she’s excelling at.

The triathlete, who is an INCUS Enabled Athlete, spoke to Female First about her passion for competing, explained how she used to juggle work and training and revealed how she feels ahead of the Women’s Sub8 Challenge.

Q) When did you start taking part in triathlons and why?

A) I did my first triathlon at the end of 2013, as I got a charity place for London triathlon through work. I was looking for something to fill my competitive void from not playing hockey since leaving university, and triathlon then filled that gap. I enjoyed the London triathlon and joined up to my local triathlon club, Ful-On-Tri soon after, where I soon got involved in all the local London League races. I then heard about competing as an Age Grouper and representing Great Britain so that became the next challenge, and when I realised, I wasn’t fast enough to be competitive at the Olympic distance I moved up to the 70.3 and full Ironman distance.

Q) And you used to work full time alongside competing and training, so how challenging was that?

A) It was very challenging, particularly because as I started getting much more serious about it that also coincided with getting a more senior role at Lloyds Banking Group, which was very intense. I had a period of 18 months where I was working on between 50-60hours a week on average and trying to train around 15-18 hours. It involved a lot of very early mornings, which I didn’t mind too much (particularly having Richmond Park to myself with no cars and very few people around!) and being very efficient with how I planned my time. It also meant I mainly focused on training and working and didn’t do very much socialising outside of that at all.

Q) When and why did you make the decision to go part time to allow you to train as a professional athlete?

A) I made the decision to go part time when I turned professional, because I knew I needed more time mainly to recover, as well as an increase in training volume, in order to be competitive as a professional triathlete. I had also reached a more senior level at Lloyds so thought it would be easier to have the flexibility, and also be able to take a sabbatical or career break if I wanted.

Q) How much did the pandemic hinder your training because it doesn't seem like you let it get in your way given the successful year you've had so far?

A) I was really lucky in the pandemic in that I still had access to an endless pool, so actually I wasn’t really impacted at all other than not being Able to train with other people. In some ways it was probably beneficial for me as it gave me a longer period of consistent training before competing as a pro.

Q) Congratulations on coming fifth in the Ironman World Championships last weekend, so how did the race go for you?

A) The race was generally pretty good! I was hoping for a slightly better swim to be honest; I have worked really hard on it, and I think it is in better shape than I showed, but I was still happy to come out with a group. Onto the bike and I felt great to start with, and consciously held myself back a bit as I didn’t want to pay for going too hard early on. I struggled a little bit in the back half of the bike, mainly because it felt like a pretty solo time trial for most of the bike, and it started getting really hot. Parts of Snow Canyon it felt like we were getting baked in an oven! Onto the run and it was just really tough! I didn’t know what pace I was running as my watch never found GPS, so was running to feel. I settled into a comfortable pace in the first 45 minutes, and just concentrated on trying to bring the gap down to the women in front of me. The second loop of the run was pretty tough, I was concentrating a lot on drawing energy from the crowd, getting ice and water in, and just keeping running! Definitely the hardest Ironman I’ve done.

Q) And you're pacing the Women's Sub8 Challenge, so how are you feeling about that?

A) I am really excited to be a pacer in the Sub8 Challenge! Kat is one of my great friends as well as being an incredible triathlete, so it is a real honour to be part of her team. I have no doubt we will break eight hours; the question is just how fast we will go and how much can we beat Nicola and her team by!

Q) What are you most proud of achieving in your career so far and why?

A) Definitely most proud of my top 5 finish in St George. To come from being the age Group world champion to being competitive with the top professional triathletes in the world in the space of 2.5 years feels like my decision to go professional was the right one.

Ruth Astle is an INCUS Enabled Athlete -

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