CLC’s Ironwoman: Mrs Wilkinson

vickie wilkinson cover

Following her success at the Ironman World Championships last year in which she came 13th in her age group, Mrs Wilkinson tells Charlotte Jiang about the strict training she endured and her plans for this year.

(As seen in Pegasus Pages, March 2014)

Charlotte: Thank you so much for doing this interview, Mrs Wilkinson. First of all, I’m sure that everyone wants to know what you think contributed to your success at the Ironman World Championships.

Mrs Wilkinson: Yes, well I think that the main factor is training consistently day after day, and making sure that I have a built in rest day to recover. It is also so important to be dedicated and to be repetitive with training in order to clock up the miles.

Charlotte: It must have been very tough on your body to train every day without fail. How did you manage?

Mrs Wilkinson: I would say that it is very important to listen to your body, and to train according to how you feel. When you need a break, take a break to avoid training too hard and injuring yourself.

Charlotte: Ok, so what would have been a normal training plan for one week when you were preparing for the Ironman?

Mrs Wilkinson: Well, on Mondays I would do a 90 minute swim in the morning, followed by a 45-60 minute run in the afternoon. On Tuesdays, in the morning it’s a 60-90 minute bike. Later on in the day I would have a 60-90 minute run, which is all about building up speed. Wednesdays involve a 90 minute swim and a gruelling 3-4 hour bike non-stop. On Thursdays, it is an easy 60 minute bike in the morning and in the afternoon I would do a strength endurance run session. Fridays are nice; I would have a 60 minute swim in the morning, and a 30 minute easy jog. I would also have a massage to relax my muscles and remove the tension built up from all the exercise. I call this my active recovery day – I never have a rest day where I do nothing. Then on Saturdays, it’s a long run in the morning which lasts probably 2-3 hours. On Sunday, I would have a long 5 hour bike.

vickie wilkinson

vickie wilkinson

Charlotte: That sounds like a lot of exercise – I probably wouldn’t be able to get through the first few days, let alone many weeks!

Mrs Wilkinson: Yes, it is a lot – on average I did about 30 hours a week.

Charlotte: So, with so much exercise, you must be burning thousands of calories. Which kinds of food do you eat to balance out with how many calories you are using up?

Mrs Wilkinson: When I was preparing for the Ironman, I felt like I was eating a lot. Including my regular meals, I also had a brunch and what I call a ‘linner’ (between lunch and dinner). This was all aimed to allow me to consume more protein, which is what I had the most of during my training. Protein shakes were very good for me as they are calorific and easy to drink. I did find it hard to maintain weight, even though I would be consuming 4000 calories daily. To put it into perspective, Charlotte you would probably consume 1500 calories a day.

Charlotte: And now this is something I really want to ask you. Because we all have our guilty pleasures, whilst training did you have any junk food or anything which was not part of your diet?

Mrs Wilkinson: Well, I have a very sweet tooth which is probably my downfall, but whilst training it did not really bother me because I burn it off anyway through exercise. The month before the competition, I took measures to prepare myself for the race. For example, I reduced my training volume to give myself the opportunity to recover, and I also eased myself off a wide range of foods. I definitely reduced my food intake, and I also focused on eating healthily with plenty of fruit and vegetables along with lots of protein.

Charlotte: Wow. So we’ve talked about your exercise regime and what food you eat, but what about sleep? How important is it in the grand scheme of things?

Mrs Wilkinson: I cannot express how important sleep is, especially for me when I was training. Your body recovers whilst you are asleep and so it was so important for me to be able to get a sufficient number of hours of sleep each night. On weekends, I would indulge in a Sunday afternoon sleep, but normally I would have had 8 hours sleep a night without fail. Sleeping is such a crucial thing when you are an athlete.

Charlotte: Did you use any straps or bands to help you with your muscle recovery whilst you were training?

Mrs Wilkinson: Yes, I used compression tights which I wore whilst I slept. These helped with muscle recovery a lot which was very important for me as I progressed with my training.

Charlotte: Ok, so now let’s move on to talking about your future competitions. Out of interest, will you be doing the Ironman again?

Mrs Wilkinson: Definitely no way. It was such a time consuming commitment which required a huge amount of dedication. Particularly as I am now Director of Sport, I don’t have the time to focus on an Ironman again.

Charlotte: Before the Ironman, did you participate in any other competitions?

Mrs Wilkinson: Yes, I did many Triathlons and Duathlons in which I raced professionally for the French Team. I also won the Amateur World Championships and the Cross-Triathlon World Championships, and went undefeated at the Ironman qualifying races.

Charlotte: After so much success, do you still plan to race in other competitions?

Mrs Wilkinson: Yes, I have an exciting new competition coming up for which I am preparing for. It is called X-TERRA and is basically an off-road Triathlon. It is not quite as competitive as the Ironman, which is good. It covers short distances unlike the Ironman, which would go on for hours.

Charlotte: What are you plans for the X-TERRA then, and when do you plan to race?

Mrs Wilkinson: Well, in July I will be doing the X-TERRA France and the X-TERRA Ireland. Then in August I will be doing the X-TERRA Germany and the X-TERRA UK in September. Hopefully I will use these races to qualify for the championships in Maui, Hawaii.

Charlotte: Well, you certainly have a lot to be getting geared up for then! Thank you so much for doing the interview, and good luck in preparing for your X-TERRA races!

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