Ali Trauttmansdorff

How did your running journey start?

Running was always part of every sport I did – I just didn’t realise it was the thing I was best at, or maybe better said having the ability to put it at the end of a chain of other endurance sports and still being able to perform! Whether XC and athletics at school – I got pushed into field as I was the only girl on the squad capable of dishing out power moments! – or netball and hockey. Sport was always part of my life, but I didn’t have a centre of focus until 6 weeks after having my 2nd child at the ripe age of 38. My neighbour persuaded me to do a triathlon with her. I had 6 months to prepare without any help. An interesting few months. First race I was about 10th from last but I weirdly enjoyed myself. I couldn’t front crawl and I had a stitch throughout the whole run. My bike was a disaster. Next triathlon was 3 months. I was determined to give a better showing and the progress was meaningful – I beat my friend! Oops. Joining a triathlon club was key. Swim training, long rides, but running was always alone. Parkrun helped a bit. And then I started doing parent governing at a local school with Neil Swift and the rest is history….

What were/are your main/favourite distances?

Initially I did sprint triathlon which involves a 5k run. Over the years I have realised that I am built for a slightly longer distance i.e. Olympic/Standard distance which includes a 10k run. When I train though, I love a slightly longer run – 15k is my sweet spot. I do a few half marathons a year, but I steer clear of marathons. Too high an injury risk and I would have to forsake many other things I love. On the track, I really enjoy 200m and a 4×4 relay, but don’t tell Andy! Chucking a javelin is also fab! I might try a 70.3 at some stage and a 10k swim is on the menu this year.

What would you consider your greatest personal athletic achievement, and what did it mean to you?

Although not my best performance, I would definitely say the ITU World Age Group Championships in Chicago 2015. I qualified to compete for GBR only 6 months after a hip operation and had spent the past year being tested for heart issues. I wasn’t feeling on top of the world by any stretch of the imagination. Sport, friends and my kids were what kept me focused. Those few days in Chicago gave me confidence in my sporting journey. I met some truly wonderful people from around the world who inspired me in individual ways. Several of them have remained close friends. During the race, I still experienced a lot of residual pain from the operation but I finished in a decent place and knew it was something to build from. 2019 is the 5th year of competing for GBR. Sport is a very formative journey and continues to offer surprises.

How did/has your approach to running change(d) throughout your career?

For sure, one of the key things I learned over time was the role of strength and conditioning. My operation was a pivotal point and I was lucky to work with some truly special professionals with whom I stay in close contact and help to put me back on track on occasion. A chiropractor, PT, and physio who is multi-talented is the recipe which works for me. The chiropractor is the one who has been most instrumental. Knowing your muscular-skeletal strengths and weaknesses is key to help shift your running forward and make it more enjoyable! Quality not quantity also is a rule I personally follow.

Favourite race you’ve seen and why

Honestly there are too many, but it would probably have to be the ITU men’s race in Leeds in 2017. I had just raced the course myself and to watch the Brownlees live win 1, 2 was a special moment. We might not see that moment again. Ali’s running style is my favourite. It’s a joy to watch.

What injuries have you had, how did you treat them, and how did it affect you mentally?

A few, but mostly as a result of how I am stacked up. You just have to understand it and work hard against it. Muscle work is the best way to combat it plus staying supple. Running is a forward only motion and if you lose your rotation around other angles, it is just not good for you. Yoga does it for me plus cross training with other sports. The mental health side of sport is also very important – find your own goals and your own dose of self-belief. It’s your journey, not someone else’s.

What was/has been your number one challenge throughout your career, and how did you overcome it?

A lack of time. The job I do and life I have doesn’t lend itself well to having enough time to train. So you have to use your time wisely, think smart and train at times others might be in front of the TV or going to bed! I don’t sit down much nor do I watch TV. With 3 sports there is always some to do.

What is your number one piece of advice?

Know why you do what you do, surround yourself with people who inspire you and who are prepared to give and take in equal measure. Be prepared to do the same. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Give back to the sport. Encourage youngsters and more mature athletes alike. Everyone has something to gain from sport and it will improve their self-esteem, mental health and happiness immensely. The joys you find through sport are many!