Interview with Miriam Jenkins, Paratriathlon World Champion
New Zealand’s Miriam Jenkins won the ITU Paratriathlon TRI-3 Category World Championship at last year’s Gold Coast Grand Final. We caught up with Jenkins as she gets ready to start the 2010 season, with the goal of winning another world championship in Budapest this September.
1. What made you decide to compete in Triathlon?
My first triathlon was when I was fourteen. I entered because my older sister did too. I come from a swimming background and did BMX racing when I was younger, so I thought I would automatically become a pro. This was not the case.
2. What is your typical training week?
Before World Championships, the weather where I live was pretty bad so every morning and lunchtime I was attending indoor cycling classes at my gym. I swim between four and six times a week, do weights and complete a lot of my run training on the treadmill. I train seven days on, one day off. Now it’s coming into summer so I can get out on my real bike!
3. Many triathletes use a training log. How meticulous are you in preparation for your training?
I like to plan my training before the beginning of each week, but also in phases of three weeks. That way, when my alarm goes off at 5:20am I know exactly what I’m doing for the rest of the day, and how I can fit my other commitments around my training. I’m lucky that for most of my life I had a great swimming coach who planned my sessions for me, so I have that base to draw from.
4. What adaptations have you had to make to accommodate your disability for triathlon?
The only real difference I’ve noticed between myself and able-bodied athletes is that I have to put my bike shoes on in transition rather than having them clipped in before the race. I can’t run around in bare feet because I trip over, and I am far too uncoordinated to get my feet in my shoes once I’m on the bike. I’ve tried a few times, and the results were not good.
5. Can you describe any special equipment that you use for triathlon?
I don’t have any adaptations to my bike or anything, but I like to think my helmet is pretty special. It’s a Garmin-Slipstream team issue helmet, because they are my favourite cycling team.
6. What has been the highlight of your triathlon career so far?
Definitely winning World Championships. That was my goal since 2003! It took a while but now I am very happy. Other than that, I competed at XTERRA NZ last year and it was probably the best day of my life. I enjoy every race I do, so I’m usually pretty happy at the end of the day.
7. What are your goals for this season?
Avoid injuries! I constantly have a torn left calf muscle because of my imbalance while I run. Other than that, I hope to compete at the sprint and standard-distance Nationals, and XTERRA again. I want to win XTERRA Worlds in 2010, and the ITU World Championship in Budapest.
8. Do you have any advice or words of encouragement for individuals thinking about competing in paratriathlon?
Do it! Triathlon is such a rewarding sport. If you put your mind and body into it, you will always do your best and be proud of the outcome.