English triathlete Aaron Harris has today been named among the six-strong squad representing Team England at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow this summer alongside the Brownlee brothers and fellow blueseventy ambassador Lucy Hall.
Aaron is part of the World Class Squad based in Loughborough and the announcement today marks his first selection for a major championship event following two top ten performances in the ITU World Triathlon Series so far this season.
We spoke to Aaron to get his reaction to the announcement and find out more about his season so far…
My season has gone better than I expected to be honest, in terms of both results and training. I knew training had gone well over winter because I was a lot more consistent than previous years. I’ve consistently hit workouts harder, so I’ve been able to build a much bigger aerobic base. This is the first time I’ve been selected to be part of Team England at a Commonwealth Games. It means a lot to me because England happen to be a very competitive country for triathlon, so I hope I can race well for the country at Glasgow 2014. My aim is to race to my potential like I did to qualify for the Games, so I don't want to put a number on my result. I just want to get on that start line knowing I'm in good shape and ready to deliver my best possible performance.
So what have you done differently?
Last year I changed coaches to Rick Velati. Rick had coached me a few years ago and since training under him again, he’s helped me see and understand the sport better. He’s provided me with more support (mostly psychological) and the program I follow now involves me approaching each session with a simple goal. It’s not a huge change to what I was doing before, but it’s a technique that has really worked for me. Setting my own small goals for the session gives me a sense of autonomy in my training and achievement when I complete them, which is important when you train a lot and can’t constantly rely on fast times to give you that positive reinforcement.
What do you think it will be like being on a team with the Brownlee’s?
I know what racing on the same team as the Brownlee’s is like. We’ve all grown up together in the sport and I’ve been competing against them since as far back as Junior World Championships and Junior European Championships. They will have a lot of media attention in the build up to the race so I can hopefully slip under the radar and get on and focus on what I need to do to perform to my best in Glasgow.
What really goes on in an ITU swim?
It’s can be different every time. Sometimes it’s nice and smooth with not too much contact, then other times it’s like entering a cage fight at the first buoy! You’ve got 50 guys who will do anything to get round it so sometimes it gets a bit chaotic! Everyone can see there’s a bit of grabbing and pulling back, some kicks to the face and so on. Personally I find it best to try and avoid any contact at all, because if you dish it out to someone else, chances are you will get it back. Karma, if you like!
What’s a typical swim session for you?
Surprisingly my favourite swim session is 8 x 400 threshold. Even though it’s tough, this session is great because no matter how I feel I can always get into it and into a rhythm, whether it’s on the first rep, or the last. I enjoy the big threshold sets because they are the staple of any 1500m/open water swimmers program, so they always feel like a worthwhile and productive session. These sets have been a big focus in my swim training and I know that I'm definitely a lot fitter in the pool than previous years at the longer reps (400m - 800m). Rick and I have also been working a lot on stoke rate and general speed over 50 to 100 meters, because I think being able to turn on the speed in a swim is important, especially when you’re approaching the exit. I’ve seen improvements in the pool but it’s difficult to know how they are paying off in open water. A lot of patience is the key with swimming, so I’m sure I will see this type of training pay off soon.
How do you prepare on the morning of a race?
On the morning of a race I usually go for a short walk, then I just rest until it’s race time. I use that time to mentally prepare and go through the race in my head. I tend to think of a couple of different scenarios that may occur but I try not to overthink things because it’s best for me to go into the race calm with not too many thoughts on results and who's going to do what. Those things are out of my control, so I just focus on my own race and let the training take over.
Aaron joins fellow blueseventy ambassador Lucy Hall on Team England, Morgan Davies on Team Wales, while competing on home soil for Team Scotland will be Marc Austin, Natalie Milne and Seonaid Thompson.
Congratulations to all blueseventy selected to represent their home nations at the Commonwealth Games, see you in Glasgow!
Aaron has recently joined Twitter so you can now follow him on his road to Glasgow 2014 @1Aaronharris.