Chick Chat with Ashleigh Gentle

When did you start competing in triathlons and what was your first race like?

I ran throughout my schooling years and also played touch football and netball for many years. I started running with a triathlon squad with a family friend when I was about 13 and that was my first involvement with the sport. Everyone else was cycling and swimming so I thought I would give it a go too.

Not too long after I started, I did my first triathlon in 2004 at Robina. I was on an old borrowed bike with gears on the top tube. I can’t remember too much about the event but I obviously really enjoyed it because ever since that day I’ve stuck with it!

As you prepare for selection for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, what does your typical training week look like and what is your favourite session of the week?

I swim with Miami Swim Squad on the Gold Coast and train there 4 mornings a week during the week. The other morning I start with a key run session. I ride on a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and my weekends start with a key ride on Saturday and running on Sunday with a recovery swim and bike afterwards. I do gym at the AIS 3 times a week and have to be diligent with physio and massage each week too. The volumes vary but particularly the intensities of sessions vary depending on what time of year it is.

My favourite workout would probably have to be any type of fartlek run or perhaps even 1km repetitions that I do each week while I’m in season. It is as actually not that fun all the time but I have a sense of satisfaction when I can walk away knowing I put in a good effort after a hard weeks training. It’s an honest test.

Growing up, who was your idol and why? Even now is there anyone you admire and / or respect as a pro?

I met Loretta Harrop when I first started triathlon and once I found out more about her (apart from her Silver Olympic medal achievement), I wanted to be able to race like her. She raced with a lot of heart and I really admired that. Emma Frodeno obviously achieved the ultimate accolade of our sport with her Olympic Gold medal, but she is also a great role model for the sport of triathlon, someone who I definitely respect.

Can you give us a little insight into your ‘A team’.

My parents have always been huge supporters, with my sport and in life in general, as too my two brothers. My Mum and Dad have a keen interest in triathlon since I started but were never pushy or too intense, I’m always grateful for that and couldn’t have started this journey without their guidance. My boyfriend Josh Amberger is also a triathlete and is someone I can trust with anything, he sees the good, bad and the ugly and we have each other’s back. There is a few staff at the AIS who I’m grateful for, including my gym coach, Deb Savage. Of course there is my coach Cliff English who always has a very positive outlook on my progress and career. I’m lucky to have some of close friends outside the world of triathlon too who are extremely supportive, honest and very down to earth people.

What has been your biggest challenge to date (in and out of the sport) and how did you overcome it?

There have definitely been a few challenges over the years, some tears shed. I had a pretty rough time during 2009 and the start of 2010. In 2009 after two silver medals at Junior World championships, I failed to race well enough at a selection race to make the team for 2009 at my home World Championships on the Gold Coast. I felt pretty deflated, although I got a call up and was offered to race up in U23s and took the opportunity, I shouldn’t have. I actually got lapped out in that race and our old high performance director told me years later he thought I would quit. Yep, I was struggling.  At the start of 2010 I was having a hard time juggling sport and study. I was studying full time on the Gold Coast and travelling to Brisbane to train. I didn’t realise at the time how much I was wearing myself out. I had extremely low Iron levels and it took some time to get healthy.

Thankfully with the help of some very supportive people around me, I kept at it and was selected for the 2010 Junior Worlds team once again after a horror 2009 Worlds experience. I continued to monitor my health and enjoyed some time overseas in France before the Championships. I was rewarded with a Gold medal and it’s an achievement that I will always hold close to my heart.  I learnt a lot during my junior years.

Competing all over the world, you must come across some beautiful courses and people. What is your favourite race destination and why?

I always enjoyed racing in Kitzbuhel, it is absolutely stunning! As for overall experience, I can’t go past Hamburg WTS race and Noosa Triathlon. Hamburg is completely insane, the course is flat, fast and the crowds are the best on the circuit. Noosa is a race which I look forward to each year and I absolutely love racing at home in Australia, I wish I could do it a lot more.

Down the track, do you have any plans to compete in Long Course / Ironman’s?

It’s hard to say about Ironman at the moment, it’s definitely a whole different beast to what I am currently doing now. I have the Olympic dream, but can definitely say that I would be interested in trying 70.3s down the track.

What’s the best advice you have ever received to help with either training or racing?

There is a couple of things which pop to mind but my main mantra when I started with my coach Cliff English was consistency, as simple as that. A few years ago now, I had a few different injuries that really hampered my training. Our simple goal was to get my body strong enough to cope with day-to-day training, week in week out. Previously, I was juggling little niggles here and there and also had a couple of more significant injuries. Now more than ever I believe nothing is more valuable than consistent work over time.

What percentage of racing at your level is mental v physical? Any prerace rituals in the days / hours before a big race?

The focus before racing is always on resting the legs outside of training and fuelling myself properly, although I don’t have any particular pre race rituals. I think I have always underestimated the mental side of racing, especially racing a WTS level. It’s actually something that I am currently working on and I think it plays a big part of performance.

We would like to congratulate Ashleigh for taking out the win at the 2015 Noosa Triathlon for the third year in a row! Also a BIG thankyou for taking the time to chat with us!

Amy is the Owner and Head Coach of TriChicks and has over 10 years coaching experience.  Amy created TriChicks to help lower the barrier to get women into the sport. 

You can read more about her HERE