Hamish Armitt, selected for GB&NI Under 20s at this weekend’s Euro XC Championships in Dublin, has excelled in Giffnock North AC colours from an early age. Hamish’s ability has always been undeniable – National XC individual gold at U13, U15 and U17; multiple wins including in the vaunted UK Cross Challenge races. It’s no surprise he’s an outstanding triathlete too. But it’s not all been plain sailing, as he generously reveals here:
“In late February last year I was diagnosed with five stress fractures. These were caused by a combination of overtraining on the run and nutrition, (showing how important it is to eat enough and not overtrain for confidence reasons – trust your plan!).
“So, running was completely out for around 4 to 5 months. I missed my whole summer season in running and most of my triathlon season. However, I received great support from the Scottish Institute with rehab and I focused a lot more on building strength in the gym. It also allowed me to work on my weakness, swimming, so I really concentrated on developing that and built up to around 30 to 35km a week in the pool, which massively improved my swim. I also replaced the time I spent running with more hours on the bike, allowing me to build a bigger aerobic base.
COME BACK A BETTER ATHLETE
“Basically, what I’m saying is injuries can seem really bad at first but if you work on other areas, you can come back an even better and more rounded athlete. Triathlon really helped me compete this winter in xc as I still had fitness from the bike and run, and was still fit enough even with only 1 to 2months of serious run training before my main xc races.
GOOD TIME MANAGEMENT
“In terms of balancing triathlon training, it just comes down to having good time management and being sensible with how you plan out the week. I‘m training on average 25 to 30 hours a week: 10 in the pool, 12 on the bike and 8 on the run due to me training the other two sports. I don’t have to do as much volume on the run – around 80 to 90km where some runners are doing 130 to 150 a week. It’s all about balancing each sport and prioritising them correctly so right now I’m focusing on the run but after winter it will be swim.
COPING WITH DIABETES
“When I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (it was in 2017: I was 15 years old) it was a big change to my life. Before the diagnosis I was pretty successful so I worried I’d never be as good or it would hinder my performance. This is not the case.
“I didn’t really get too down about it because it was completely outwith my control. I just really tried to focus on controlling my sugars so I could still perform at my best. The first year was tough adjusting to having to use insulin but a key thing for me were the libre sensors. With that system I was able to constantly monitor my glucose which is really important for your health.
“Routine also helped a lot as through trial and error I was able to work out when to eat before different types of sessions and what works best. You just need to understand what impact certain food has on your sugars at certain times.
“My biggest bit of advice would be to be patient. It took me a lot of time to understand how and when to use insulin. I’ve had loads of times when I’ve been really frustrated or down when I don’t manage my insulin intake correctly and I have to miss sessions due to my glucose levels being too low or high. The only way I learned was through trial and error. It’s not something you can learn to control easily. So, you just need to make sure you don’t lose hope.”
Thank you, Hamish, for such an honest, insightful and helpful review of how you approach and control yourtraining and diabetes. We feel sure your words will inspire others, at every level, to keep pressing on towards their own goals. Meantime, all the very best for Dublin and beyond. Everyone at the club will be cheering you on.
The 2021 Euro Cross Country Championships are hosted in Dublin this Sunday 12th December: Hamish’s U20 6k race starts 11:00 am. The event is on BBC: 10:00-15:00 – BBC iPlayer, BBC Red Button, BBC Sport website and app.
Photo is of Hamish winning the Cardiff Cross Challenge courtesy of Mark Shearman @AthleticsImages