Q&A: Jo Carritt

We caught up with Jo Carritt who is part of the Challenger World Triathlete team ahead of The Virgin Active London Triathlon.



by Annie Rice

Q. How did you get in to Triathlon?

It was a sort of "dare" laid down by the group of guys that I first started running with. We used to climb together (before heading to the pub for our Sunday evening drinking session!) and realised that we'd last a lot longer on the wall if we got a bit fitter. So, we started running and for motivation each month we'd take turns to think of a challenge in the form of a race for the group to do. August's challenge was The London Triathlon. We bought bikes, trained, rented wetsuits and did the Sprint race. From then, I was hooked. 

Q. What is your favourite discipline and why?

Currently the bike, thanks to the fact that I have a wonderful new machine, a Specialized Shiv. Also, I’ve been getting stronger on the bike bit by bit over the past three years, which is a good feeling. Mind you, it’s always a relief to complete that section of the race, since there’s the risk of technical problems such as punctures and crashes. Getting out on the run is always nice because it’s simple: just you and your fitness against the course.

Q. What has been your career highlight so far?

I would say the podium finish at Ironman UK in my first season of racing professionally, and qualifying for Kona in doing so. Being on the Pro start line in Kona was a fantastic experience too.

Q. And greatest challenge?

Being the only woman (and 6th person overall) to finish the Double Enduroman event in Lanzarote 2012. Not necessarily because it was the most difficult thing that I’ve ever done, but the scale of the challenge was certainly the biggest. Challenges of a different type that I, and all athletes, must overcome are the times outside of racing, perhaps when races go badly, or due to illness or injury, where we must find the means to fund, motivate and maintain a positive attitude towards our goals.   

Q. Are you on track to qualify for Kona? 

With a 15th place finish, it’s highly unlikely that I will make the cut. But with a best ever performance at Ironman UK, it may still be possible.

Q. What does your weekly training schedule consist of?

In numbers an ‘average’ week is 23-27 hours, with 4 or 5 swims, 250-300miles on the bike and around 60km of running. My week generally consists of three typical types of day; two days of the week where training is my main focus and I will spend 5-8 hours training in multiple sessions, three days I spend doing 3 – 5 hours of training, split over two sessions, and for the remaining two days I may only include one or two short workouts as they are mostly set aside for my coaching work, admin and catching up with the garden.

Q. Talk us through a normal day?

As above, I have a few types of ‘normal’ day as no two days are ever the same - that’s the beauty of this job! But typically I will wake early, between 5am and 6am, and make myself some coffee. Often this gives me an hour or so to catch up on emails or tasks left over from the day before as I find my mind is most focused first thing in the morning (due to the coffee hit!).

Most days start with a swim, usually in the public pool session from 7:30-9:15. Since I’m in town I will do any chores or shopping that I need to straight after the swim before heading home to water my veggie beds and eat a cooked brunch (involving yet more coffee).

I’ll then usually spend about two hours working in my office before heading out on my next workout by early afternoon. Most days I will try to finish training by about 4pm, in order for me to attend to any correspondences that might be required before the end of the office day. I tend to eat an evening meal at around 6pm and sometimes catch a bit of junk TV whilst I do so. My evenings are usually dedicated to other projects such as filling in and analysing my day’s training data, maintaining my website, brewing beer, gardening, editing movies or catching up on personal correspondence. By the time I’m finished these activities it’s around 9pm, bedtime for me, and so I may read or watch some TV in bed before I go to sleep. 

Q. Do you follow a strict nutrition regime?

No - I’ll eat what’s available. To keep things simple, and within my budget, my shopping basket looks about the same each week with the staples that I eat day in day out. I rarely eat pre packaged or processed food, or those heavy in refined carbohydrates. However, when I’m hungry after or during a session I’ll pretty much consume anything within reach.

Q. What's your recovery routine like?

Put the kettle on, fire up the lap top and stop training for up to 12 hours.

Q. Have you had any injury struggles?

Fortunately not in the last couple of years. I am a big believer in having regular massages and practicing yoga as I believe that a strong core, stability and flexibility are essential for maintaining injury free training.

Q. Do you have any pre-race rituals?

No. Whilst having rituals around training i.e eating, sleeping in the last days before a race can be a comfort, it can also be a source of stress if you find yourself in a situation that does not enable you to carry these out. In terms of preparation for a race, I do not have the same requirements for every race as when I travel to races I usually stay in home-stay accommodation (local people who generously offer a room in their home to visiting athletes) and the set-up is very varied.  However, what is important, for me is to find some time to be alone and do nothing but relax.  Once I’ve stopped thinking about everything that I’ve usually got buzzing about in my head, I find that I can really start to focus on how I feel within and talk myself through the impending race day.

Q. Who is your greatest triathlon inspiration?

I’ve been inspired by so many people I’ve met since competing in triathlons since 2003. 

Q. How do you reward yourself after a race or tough training session?

A tough race or training session well executed is usually reward enough. But I suppose that dinner in the bath only happens after the really big days.  

Q. What are your goals for the upcoming year and beyond?

My next challenge is the Virgin Active London Triathlon on the 27th-28th July. I’ll be taking part in the Olympic Plus race on the Sunday which I’m really excited about. Following on from this, with the current season almost over, the final World Championship selections are announced on the 25th August. My goal for the rest of the year has been to make this selection and so I have not given much thought to 2014 yet. I had said that if I fail in that goal this year then I would be likely to change my attitude towards racing; away from the Ironman rankings system and towards a more diverse range of UK based events. However, there are so many things that I feel that I could improve on given another attempt and so maybe I will give it another shot! 

Beyond that, my long-term goal is to create a sustainable lifestyle doing what I love - which is being involved in triathlon. The EverydayTraining coaching business that I set up 5 years ago is going strong and we are turning our focus more towards training camps. I see racing at high level as a way of complimenting my skills as a coach and my ability as a mentor to motivate and inspire others. 

Jo Carritt led a training session at Virgin Active ahead of the Virgin Active London Triathlon, we attended for tips on tri training in the gym with focus on the bike to run transition. 


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