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Most triathlon training plans are structured around routine and repetition: certain workouts on certain days, following a certain order. For Amelia Watkinson, however, it’s the opposite—she thrives when she can have as much variety as possible. Follow her on Instagram (@ameliarosewatkinson), and you’ll see dispatches from a new location just about every week: a twisty mountain ride in Switzerland, a hot run in Thailand, then a half-Iron win in her native New Zealand. Even when COVID-19 restrictions hampered her ability to cross borders, Watkinson could still be found discovering new trails and hidden swimming coves near her home on Australia’s Sunshine Coast.
“Traveling with training and racing is definitely still a massive perk to the sport for me,” Watkinson said. “I always factor in a few days post-race to explore the city or nearby spots.”
Watkinson especially loves getting away from tourist hotspots. Before every trip, she recons the city the same way she does a race course: “I always do a little research to find my must-sees, but nothing beats the accidental discovery of a quirky coffee shop, art gallery, or running trail. I appreciate simply wandering the streets and taking 10,000 photos—of course, with a few food and beverage stops along the way, too.”
This explorer’s attitude is a big part of Watkinson’s success on the pro circuit. By exploring new terrain, she has learned she can handle just about any situation—be it a sweltering run in the Philippines or a route that suddenly turns from modest to mountainous. That confidence has carried over into 16 wins at the half-Iron distance and a win at the 2020 Ironman Asia-Pacific Championship in only her second attempt at the full distance. The latter will take her to yet another new place: Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, where she’s planning to race her first Ironman World Championship later this year.
“Travel has helped me develop strategies for overcoming obstacles, injuries, sickness, and the mental battles as efficiently as possible. This has allowed me to continually grow as an athlete, which is when success starts to shine. I think this approach can be applied to most things, in that there is so much more beauty and experiences in the valleys and on the mountain tops, than forever stuck on the plains.”
Amelia Watkinson’s Go-To Workout for Travelers
When on the road, it’s easy to build intervals into your exploration. Try this organic fartlek workout Watkinson swears by: “Instead of structured bike sessions, I love a group (or even solo) ride where you pick various road signs or landmarks, or even the top of a hill, and race to them. And of course, finishing at the coffee shop.”
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