Duncan Mackay

It’s nice to see a change in the weather and that the snow, as nice as it was, has finally melted up here in Leeds. Being a duathlete and triathlete, I spend a lot of my time out on the moors either running or cycling and so this long winter has been a bit of a nightmare. 

We had a week-long winter training camp in Spain where we thought we’d get a respite from the weather but it rained the whole time and then we arrived back and the UK was covered in snow!

For at least two months it was too risky to train on my road bike so I switched to mountain biking and also had to increase my turbo training and do more indoor training and swimming. 

The mountain biking was actually good fun and a nice change - it’s amazing how quickly you can become an expert at judging which snow to ride through and which patches you need to avoid.

As there are multiple disciplines within duathlon and triathlon, my training is very varied and takes up a lot of my time. I’m usually swimming from 7am for an hour-and-a-half and then I do two or three hours on the bike and a one hour run later in the evening. 

In between those commitments I’ll sometimes have extra gym or physio time. On top of all that, I have to find time to study for my history degree. Thankfully, my course isn’t too intensive in terms of lecture and seminar time so I can fit all the independent study around my schedule. It’s not always easy though and it doesn’t leave much time for a social life - it’s a good job that a lot of my friends are also people that I train with and I certainly find that cycling is quite a social sport.

I’m also very lucky that I get to train with my older brother and fellow BT Ambassador, Alistair, who is the current ITU Triathlon World champion. We’re great mates, and also share coaches, so we do nearly all our training together. It’s good to have someone to train with and, as Alistair is a few years ahead of me and has had extra experience of training and competing, he’s been able to help in my development as a triathlete. 

He is a particularly good judge of when we should push ourselves harder or take things a bit easier and I’ve also learnt a lot more about the technical side of the bikes from him. It’s invaluable to have so much time with him and to learn from his experiences and it’s even useful outside of competition - sometimes the travel or pre-race nerves can be a bit daunting and he’s fantastic to have as a travel buddy if we’re away competing together.

All the competitions can add up to a lot of travelling and that’s one of the reason it’s great that BT have signed both Alistair and myself up as two of their Ambassadors for their London 2012  programme. As well as providing us with phones and broadband access at home, they’ve also given us mobiles and roaming internet access so we have peace of mind that, whenever we’re away from home, we know we can stay in touch with people and also keep up with our studying commitments without having to worry.

Last year was a really strong year for me as I silver medalled at the ITU Junior World Championship and won the ETU European Junior Triathlon Championship and British Duathlon Junior Championship. That’s why, for the new season, I’ll be moving up to compete at under-23 level. 

It’s a big step, as the distances increase, but it’s one that I’m prepared for as I’ve already entered senior level competitions, including my first ITU World Championship Series races, where I feel I made some real progress and got very encouraging finishing places. 

When you compete at junior level, you tend to stay in it for two or three years, whereas under-23 level is a category that you look to move out of, into senior, as quickly as possible.

Like a lot of athletes my age, I’ve always got one eye on London 2012. To compete for Great Britain in triathlon on home turf, with my country’s crowd cheering me on, would be an incredible experience. I definitely recognise it as a once in a lifetime opportunity. As I’m still developing in my sport, it doesn’t feel like London 2012 is adding any extra pressure on me. 

It’s also great when London 2012 Partners such as BT want to support you and it certainly helps encourage me and keeps my mind focused towards the ultimate prize – winning an Olympic medal.

Jonathan Brownlee is a BT Ambassador. BT is the official communications services partner for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and title sponsor of the BT Paralympic World Cup.  For more information click here