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Fran Bungay World No.1 in 70.3 Ironman

After hearing the recent news that Fran Bungay, one of our sponsored athletes, has been ranked world No.1 for 70.3 Ironman in her age group we thought it would be a great opportunity to catch up with her to talk about her recent successes and training practices.



Can you tell me a bit more about yourself and your history racing in triathlons?

I started triathlon after having my 3rd child 7 years ago. I had no history in the sport before that, in fact I was a history teacher, who sailed! However, after Fin (No3) was born I had a go at a few park runs, loved it, and a friend suggested a triathlon. I couldn't swim front crawl, so my first few races were breast stroke! However, I loved it, and whilst the kids were young I decided to get fit, and retrain as a personal trainer and a swimming instructor. However, I really wanted to focus on triathlon, so approached David Hooper our local SW regional officer to see if there was funding available to set up a club. I visited schools, ran taster sessions with the help of Harry Wiltshire, illustrated that there was potential for a club. Knowing how hard it was to fit training in around children, and work, we wanted to provide a club that provided others with the opportunity to train side by side.  Alongside this, once I had decided to train more consistently in triathlon, Harry basically taught me how to swim, and how to train a few years ago now, and once I felt a bit more confident, I started to compete at age group level after having success at local level. Since then I have won 2 Gold medals, 3 Silver medals and 3 bronze in every distance from sprint duathlon through to long distance triathlon!  The bike leg is by far my strongest discipline! The sport has so much to offer for all abilities and all ages, therefore together with Ade (husband, also coach alongside deputy head!) and a brilliant team of coaches and support crew, we aim to get as many kids and adults in this area into the sport!


You recently became ranked world no.1 in your age group for 70.3 Ironman, how did this come about?

In June, I raced in UK Ironman 70.3 Events in Staffordshire and Exmoor, and even though they were only 2 weeks apart, I won in my age group by over 15mins. I might say that this gain was made on the bike leg, which must have been due to the speedy Exocet 2! 

I also raced in France at Aix en Provence, earlier in the season, however unfortunately, I had a mechanical issue on the bike, and a 5 minute penalty at this race which cost me a podium finish.


What are your goals now you have reached this point?

My key goal for the rest of this season, and specifically next year, is to work on my run speed and endurance. I have suffered from an on going quad injury for years, and unfortunately, despite finally fixing this last year, I tore my hip flexor after an event last June. Subsequently, I was only back to running in Jan, and in training I still haven’t run more than 60mins, now, which started as 20mins twice a week, from January and has slowly progressed. Therefore, it is a weakness at the moment, however, I am pain free, developing my strength and finally being able to run consistently.  My goal is to get my running up to the same level as my biking!


What sort of training is required to be able to compete at this level?

I do not think that there is a magic number of hours that you should be training each week, however there are elements of training that are essential for success. The key to training is consistency, adequate rest, and ensuring that recovery sessions are kept as recovery so you can work hard at the quality sessions. Personally, I balance training with 3 young children, coaching as part of our club, and through goalspecific coaching, as well as now working for the BTF as part of their Tutor workforce, so it’s key to keep everything in balance. Maintaining a healthy diet and keeping hydrated is also part of this, thereby keeping well, and being able to keep that training consistent.


Can you tell me a bit more about your involvement with Tripurbeck and what the club offer to aspiring athletes?

I set up Tripurbeck about 4 years ago, initially as a junior club. However, we decided to develop this to adults as well, so parents and their children had an opportunity to train together! On top of our club sessions which are for all levels of ability,  I also run a junior squad, which Planet X have supported,  providing turbos, bikes and kit, and a massive thank you for this, it has meant our juniors have been able to compete on a level playing field, and borrow turbos to train at home. We also run a series of junior events and adult events, to encourage participation. I also coach a number of our athletes outside club sessions, and we have had a number of podium wins, which is inspiring for the younger members.  We are not a large club, based in a small town in the middle of Dorset, however, the support, encouragement and achievements from our members of all ages is something we are all really proud of, and it would not have happened without the support from Sports England, our local sports club, Planet X and the amazing team of coaches we have, who all give up hours of their time voluntary to coach our members from 6 to over 60!  What many members say is inspiring about the club, is not only its sense of community and participation on all levels, but the fact that a lot of novices to the sport of triathlon have gone on to achieve age group medals, and are now part of our coaching team, determined to give something back.


Do you have any advice for women and young athletes looking to get into any aspect of triathlon?

Advice for starting triathlon; find a club, and get involved in club sessions, quiz the coaches as much as possible on how to train and sign up to some novice weekends/swim camps. You will meet similar people and learn loads. Then find some local events, designed for first timers and have a go. If you are a nervous swimmer have a look at pool based ones, or even make you first few duathlons. Then if you still love it and want to take it more seriously, find a coach, and they can advise you on how to train sensibly alongside other commitments and help you establish realistic and challenging goals.

Advice for women/juniors; having 3 children and being a woman as well I really do understand how difficult it is to juggle life with keeping fit. However, my advice to women would be to give it a go. If the idea of joining a club is daunting then start at home. I used to put a bike on a turbo in the living room whilst the kids slept to kick start fitness. Core work and conditioning can be done in the living room as well.  See if you can convince a friend to take turns to ride/babysit. Even better get a trailer to put on a mountain bike, the kids love it. I started with all of these things....and was nervous, lacked confidence and dreaded my first race, which was a park run. Loved it and never looked back. So find friends get support from family, get fit and who knows where it would go...if you want some guidance let me know.

With regards to juniors, I believe when they are young having fun and participating in loads of different sports is key. Make sure swimming is one of these. We thoroughly encourage our juniors to do other sports. Also this will build their strength and endurance for which ever sport they choose. If its triathlon...brilliant, and remember to enjoy it, find a club and take part in races. If as they get older they want to take it more seriously, talk to your club coaches as there are lots of opportunities out there now for our juniors.

Whether its triathlon, cycling or a different sport, you should find enjoyment, fun, challenges and overcoming them, and all of this builds confidence and success, and along the way you will meet amazing people.

2 July 2015

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