this is our lab: Tim Don

Our company mantra "this is our lab" is keeping connected with our athletes who give us the feedback and inspiration we need to be the best in triathlon.  Here we chat with Tim Don, one of the most successful triathlete's racing right now- Tim has been on the podium in his last 5 consecutive races.

bs: Good day Tim- thanks for chatting, right to what everyone wants to know: what was your training set for today?

TD: Hey how you doing? - swim bike run of course !!! Menu for today was easy 4.8km swim 95km flat spin on the bike and 12km run early evening 


bs: The 70.3 distance seems to suit you - what do you think about your development the last few years?

TD: Well I say it is like a 1500m track runner going up to 10000m then again moving on to the half-marathon.  ITU to 70.3 and on to Ironman.  It was a natural progression for me; a bit of tweaking here and there with coaching, training, equipment, mind set and sponsors.  If you have the right people around you and embrace the changes and are willing to learn then I guess my development has felt pretty normal/easy.

bs: Whoh! You said Ironman, is Ironman in your near future? Kona too?

TD: Yes! I am doing my first Ironman in Sept and hope to be on the start line in Kona in 2015.  I am under no illusion how hard Ironman will be and my first time out am going more for a learning/experimental race, but don't get me wrong if I am on the start line I will race and try to win!

bs: What do you miss about your ITU days?

TD: Racing and lots of it, I would race maybe 20 times a year with sprint and Olympic races all over the World.  It was great fun!  Also I knew the ITU guys so well as we saw each other so often I miss the camaraderie, the banter and having loads of laughs.  I am getting to know some of the guys at my new distance but with so many varying 70.3 races a year there are so many new faces!  At least I am racing new courses and going to new places which is sweet!  

bs: Can you comment on differences - training wise and physiologically - you have had to employ to go up to 70.3 distance?

TD: I have had to slow down in training and focus more on my longer efforts, 70.3 is all about efficiency in the water and on the bike and then on the run, well you better be ready to go!!!  I have worked with my coach Julie Dibens loads on this, especially on the bike . As she came from a very successful ITU career and made an amazing jump to be successful at 70.3 and Ironman, I knew she’s the coach for me.   With Julie living in Boulder it is also great for quick and easy communication and feedback.


bs: Your ITU swim abilities must have set you up well to go longer, are you one of the faster chaps in the pool? TD: I am shit-hot in the pool!  Only joking… I can hold my own but I am not a gun swimmer in the pool. I love open water and have been racing tri's and open water since the early 90's so really come into my own there. I do a lot of band work and pull band paddles. I am also a big fan of the core shorts, why has no one thought of that before!  They are wicked! As a training tool they are perfect for triathletes.

bs: Fueling during the actual event must have been a completely new concept for you - what did you discover? TD: Well you have to fuel and not just hydrate & sodium load. I found out the hard way in two races last year.  Rev3 Quassy and UK70.3 were tough on me.  With Julie I worked on how to get calories in as well as fluid and later last year I was dialing it in.  This year I think race day nutrition for 70.3 is sorted but for a full Ironman... I guess we will see later in the year!

bs: Are you settled in Boulder long-term? What are your favorite things there?

TD: You know as a triathlete you are never really settled until you retire.  As an actively racing athlete you have to go where the training, weather, racing and coaching is. For sure we are settled for the near term.  Matilda is at a nice school and Kelly & I have great friends and a good routine.  We have a 5 year visa so we will see how well I carry on racing I guess. Things I like in boulder are 1620m!  The training is good, weather is nice and the fact my family is happy here is a big part of it for me, our balance. 


bs: Many personalities in Boulder - who are your regular training partners?

TD: Loads of personalities for sure! I do most of my training with James Hadley, Leon Griffin, Pat Evoe and Tyler Butterfield.  No egos just good lads training hard and always up for a laugh except for Hadley he is always deadly serious!

bs: How often do you go back home (England)? Home is where my hat is right, Boulder?  

TD: My parents live in Spain and I go once a year and they come out to boulder for at least 2 months a year to see us and try and get to see me race once year as well. My sister lives in Switzerland and she tries to tie a visit to Spain when I am there. I use to train a lot about 20km from where she lives so saw loads of her but since moving to Boulder it is hard with the family, work and travel. Kelly’s family lives in in Oxford so when we are in Europe we see them.  They love to travel so they also normally visit us via a US city on our travels as well.  I have always traveled from when I left school so it seams normal to me to be away from home, just part of my job. 

bs: Do you have thoughts on doing any of the bigger (home-country) races at any point?

TD: I should have raced UK70.3 this year like I did last year but due to Matilda, my daughter, getting ill I had to miss it. I did hear there is going to be a new 70.3 in the UK next year so hopefully I can get over for one of them.  Being a Pro I have to make the tough decisions and if a race is going to cost me money even if I win, well, I have to look at the best options. This is the first year since 1992 I haven’t raced in the UK so I have always supported the local Tri scene which is getting bigger and bigger!  Awesome!

bs: You look like a big kid out there racing- showing such great love for what you do, where does your passion come from?

TD: I feel like I have not worked a day in my life, triathlon is my passion I mean its crazy I can call it my job. There are days when I find it hard to train but then I think, “hey this ain't so bad now is it?”  I love the pursuit of excellence and pushing my body and mind to the best performance I can achieve on race day. A very lucky man I am!


bs: Were you an athlete in your youth?

TD: I have always been sporty and I was never a computer games console kind of guy.  As a family growing up we were always outdoors, walking, spending holidays camping, biking, running, swimming - I loved all of it. 

bs: Speaking of children- tell us about how your family is enjoying Daddy's work?

TD: My wife Kelly and 3 year old daughter Matilda are just the best, I am lucky I see them so much with not working regular hours I definitely spend a lot of time with them. Triathlon has given us so much as a family and so many experiences and opportunities we are lucky buggers!  Matilda does expect me to come home with a medal every race these days… lucky I have gone 5 for 5 podiums this year, let’s hope they keep coming.

bs: How do you and your wife balance her pursuits with yours?

TD: I am lucky Kelly supports me 100% and she understands being a pro as she was a professional middle distance runner. We met at a training camp in Stellenbosch. I love it when Kelly and Matilda come to the track to time me and Matilda rides her bike round with me  If I have a 45min easy run we go to Coot lake and they go for a walk while I run.  Then after we play in the park together.  Kelly has sacrificed a lot for me as living in the US she cannot work here.  While in the UK she was a primary school teacher which she loved. When I retire I am sure I will be the one making the sacrifices for Kelly and Matilda - it is definitely a Don Team effort.

bs: What else keeps you busy other than being a pro triathlete?

TD: This year I have a new venture Dirtyfast Coaching. I work with a handful of people of all ages from around the world and help them pursue their triathlon goals.  It is hard work getting the balance right but I love the challenge and really love seeing my athletes achieve their goals whatever they are. When I retire this is definitely the direction I want to take.  I also want to be involved in performance orientated training camps at the locations I have trained over the years: Stellenbosch, Boulder and La Manga club in Spain.  I am also a qualified Retul bike fitter and think a proper fitting bike is as important as a pair of running shoes or a well fitting wetsuit so to incorporate that education into camps as well would be this space!