Triathlon training boost for Scottish 10k champ Beth Potter
Scottish champion runner-turned-triathlete-hopeful Beth Potter appears to be reaping the benefits of cross-training as part of her new sport.
While Beth has been focusing on training for all three triathlon disciplines of swimming, cycling and running in recent months, this week she ran an impressive 10k to qualify for this summer’s World Championships.
Although not unexpected given that Beth, 25, has been at the top of her 10,000m running game for years and a Rio Olympics 10,000m finalist, the win at the Hampstead qualifier reveals that cross training works very well for her.
When I spoke to Beth, originally from Bearsden, East Dunbartonshire, today she said: “I actually feel like my running is easier this year rather than harder because of the other sports.
“Although I am not focusing on this one sport, as I have done previously, I feel as though I am running really well on the track. I am hopeful of a PB this year and I am looking forward to the World Championships.”
Cross training is not new to Beth. She explains: “When I was younger I did both swimming and running and that kept me really fit. I ran well because I also swam, I think.
“When I was at university I cross trained doing swimming in between my running injuries. And I still ran well.
“I think cross training works well for my running. Seeing what I could do at Hampstead this week has shown that the cross training is paying off again for me.”
Beth qualified in 32:04. Fellow Scot, Steph Twell, 27, finished second in Hampstead but missed out on the qualifying mark of 32:15 by just over a second in 32:16.23.
Childhood swimmer and runner
Beth’s first sport as a child was swimming. Her mum Ann is a good swimmer and she encouraged Beth to take up the sport.
Beth swam for Milngavie and Bearsden Amateur Swimming Club before she discovered a talent for running. (Her dad Alex is also an accomplished runner and her sister Sarah is a competitive university runner.)
Beth, who trained with Victoria Park, began competing as a runner in 2004 and showed early promise in 2008 when she came first at the Scottish Under-15 Cross Country Champs and the 1500m track.
After sustaining an injury, in 2013 Beth came 18th at the (under 23) European Championships and from then she was coached by Mick Woods.
In 2014, Beth represented Scotland in the Commonwealth Games in her home city of Glasgow finishing fifth in the 10,000m and ninth in the 5,000m.
After a difficult year in 2015 due to illness, she qualified to represent Great Britain at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Beth switches to triathlon
Beth quit her job as a physics teacher in London earlier this year and moved to Leeds to start triathlon training.
Beth reveals she has always had triathlon at the back of her mind as a possible new challenge. She continued to run until the 2016 Olympics but after that she decided the time was right to try the multi-discipline sport made so famous in Britain by the Brownlee brothers.
In fact, Beth now shares a house with Jonny Brownlee – she says it’s a lot of fun – and is coached in swimming and cycling by the same coach, Jack Maitland. Mick continues to be her running coach.
As well as double Olympic gold medallist Alistair and Rio silver medallist Jonny, Beth’s training group includes Vicky Holland, who won bronze in the women’s 2016 Olympics triathlon.
Beth says: “I am enjoying triathlon so far although it is hard work and I have a lot to get used to. There is less running than I am used to but my time is now filled with the other two sports as well.
“Swimming has come back to me quite quickly. I was a swimmer as a youngster so I have found that to be a strength and I think I am already swimming as well as I did back then.
“It is the cycling that is the hardest for me. I have access to the Yorkshire Dales and there are lots of hills to ride so that is helping with my fitness. I am focusing on strength building in the gym, too.
“But it’s the technical side of cycling that is the most difficult for me. I am a cycling newcomer and I am not used to riding in groups.
“First, there was the seemingly simple things like clipping in and out of the pedals. I made a few mistakes at that.
“Now I am learning all about the tactics of group cycling and how to stay on the wheel of the person in front.”
Beth’s aim is Olympic distance triathlon (1500m swim, 40km bike and 10k run) and for the elites these races are draft legal.
Beth will dip her toes into triathlon competition next month at the Blenheim Palace Triathlon. She says: “I am doing the sprint triathlon and I’m looking forward to it. I will do a few more sprints this season and probably an Olympic distance, too.
“It’s early days obviously but so far it’s going well.”
You can follow Beth on Twitter @beth_potter