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How Athletes Train: Non Stanford

The swim-bike-run wunderkind gives us a glimpse of her championship-earning routine.

This week, after spending 20 months recovering from injury, Welsh world champion triathlete Non Stanford makes her highly-anticipated return to competition at ITU World Triathlon Yokohama. “It’s a mixture of emotions from excitement to anxiety, relief to dread,” says the 26-year-old. “I'm hopeful that once that first finish line is crossed I'll feel less the novice and more the old hand.” Next up for Non: The London leg of the World Triathlon Series, which will prep her for her Olympic-qualifying races and also get her in front of her “all-important home crowd.” If you’ve scheduled a swim-bike-run this summer, like the Equinox indoor qualification trials for September’s Nautica Malibu Triathlon, you’ll want to heed her advice. See below.

The Training Regimen: With such a packed race schedule, I tend to prepare for the season as a whole with key focus around a couple of races. I started my 2015 campaign back in September 2014. I've still had to stave off a few injuries, practice further patience, and slowly build back up to a more normal training volume. A typical week now consists of: 

-6 outings on my Specialized Amira; a mixture of easy, steady, long, short, and race simulation, averaging around 15 hours a week in the saddle. 

-5 or 6 visits to the pool, one of which might be open water in my Orca Alpha now the temperature is on the up; the swim program is based around low volume and high intensity. Time isn't on our side when training for a 3-discipline sport so this approach saves a few precious hours. 

-7 or 8 excursions in my New Balance 880s; steady running forms the basis of the run program, which includes one track session and one cross-country session, some double run days, a few sprints off a hard bike ride. I don't count miles. 

-3 visits to the gym plus a run drills session; 2 specific strength workouts that focus on developing my weaknesses, along with one general conditioning session; the functional strength and mobility gained from specific balance and drill work will hopefully keep me running strong even after the swim and bike portions of a triathlon. 

Some of my most valued and important training tools are my training partners. I'm very fortunate to be surrounded by world-class athletes, who double up very well as incredibly inspiring, kind and well, just the loveliest friends. 

The Nutrition Regimen: You have to be good at eating to be good at triathlon. It's often difficult to eat enough, or eat the right thing, or get the timing right. I don't follow a strict set of rules, or any specific diet plans. I've learned through years of experience and trial and error what works for me, which is bagels and bananas before hard run sessions, cereal at breakfast (unless someone's making me eggs!), pizza the night before a race, cherry scones for Friday lunch, daily fruit and yogurt hits, fish, steak, sweet potatoes, and heaps of vegetables. I enjoy having a varied diet and a large part of my social life involves eating out with friends. My idea of healthy eating is a balanced diet which includes a few vices—mainly in the shape of Pepsi Max bottles and pick & mix bags.

Nutrition for racing can be more complex, so I keep it simple: Bread with honey and jam for breakfast, porridge for lunch if race time permits, some beetroot shots, sodium-loaded drinks, 2 rhubarb and custard gels on the bike and some carbohydrate sports drink in my bottle. 

The Regeneration Regimen: Recovery doesn't come naturally to most triathletes. The notion of sitting still and relaxing is foreign and having some feet-up time is often a learned skill. However, recovery is a very important part of the overall regime, so I've taught myself to nap in the day when I can and to embrace daytime TV in those sacred half hours between sessions. To aid the process I even invested in a good sofa and quality mattress. 

After a year of injury misfortune, rehab, mobility and stretching is undertaken in front of said sofa on a daily basis, along with weekly visits to see Wonder Woman (a.k.a. my physio Alison Rose). All this coupled with weekly sports massage keeps me on my feet and ready to fight another day. Oh and of course the sacred Friday day off!

Read more of our 'How Athletes Train' series and steal secrets from triathletes Linsey Corbin and Timothy O'Donnell and marathoner Shalane Flanagan