Aussie Dimity-Lee Duke is a pro triathlete who also happens to offer our Advanced Sweat Test out of her base in Phuket, Thailand. She was one of the 35 female athletes to race at the Ironman World Championships in Kona in 2015 and she’s aiming to do it all over again this year. We were chatting to her recently about how her training is going and asked her to share the story of how she got into the sport. It’s far to say that she’s had her fair share of setbacks over the years but how she dealt with each of those can provide inspiration for us all…
How did you get started in triathlon?
I officially started out in triathlon in 2008, but you could say I’ve actually been doing the swim/bike/run concept all my life. I was brought up in a small country town in the south-west of Western Australia and was not one to sit indoors. I would endlessly swim in my neighbour’s pool in the summer and run or cycle to school rain, hail or shine.
I played state and national level basketball up until the age of 23. When I was 16 I sustained a significant knee injury which hampered my chances of selection to elite/college level. During this time, my rehabilitation consisted of swim/bike/run and I just continued to use these disciplines for cross training from then on really.
Then, after 15 years of playing basketball, I switched my focus to off-road motorcycle racing (motocross and Enduro). With this sport being predominately a winter sport in Australia, I took up triathlons just to keep fit really and used it for pre-season training heading into the motorcycle racing season. It was only 3 years ago, after some solid results in the age group rankings (finishing 1st in AG in IM Wales/IM Western Australia and then 4th in the IM World Championships in Hawaii), that I decided to have a go at the professional ranks. In 2015, I decided to quit my full-time job as an Industrial Paramedic and focus on triathlon full time!
Image: Dimity-Lee Duke Instagram ©
In late 2014, I had hit a low point in my academic career as an Industrial Paramedic. I was also training for IM Malaysia at the time, so I decided to go somewhere to train in conditions similar to the race environment for a month so I found a training facility in Phuket. Here, I met my coach Jurgen Zack (Z-Coaching), and from there one thing led to another really and now I’m based in Phuket full time.
How do you stay hydrated during training and races?
As I training in a hot environment most of the time, it’s really important for me to keep well hydrated to perform at my best day in day out. Knowing my sweat sodium concentration and sweat rate for training and racing is very important. I use electrolyte mix drinks, salt tablets and water to keep myself hydrated.
What does a typical training week look like for you?
It really depends on my training phase, I can train from anywhere between 15-30 hours per week. I generally train every day of the week, with up to 3 sessions a day. My longest session can be 6 or 7 hours.
How do you fuel up for a race?
I don’t change my diet too much in the lead up to the race. I might just consume more carbohydrate or liquid calories. I make sure I’m fully pre-loaded with sodium prior to my race, following my hydration plan.
Your recent race report mentions your last two races (IM Australia and IM 70.3 Vietnam) as being the “most influential on my racing career to date”. Why was that? What did you learn?
My two most recent races told me one simple thing…to believe in myself! I had some self-doubt heading into my first Ironman in 2016 really because I didn’t know what my limits were and was not confident in my new found form and ability. I also let other athletes dictate my race rather than just trusting myself to race as I know I can. I put a lot of pressure on myself because I wanted to get a good result for future qualification to the world championships (professional athletes have to collect points over the year and then finish top 35 in the world rankings to qualify) rather than just racing. So even though I finished 3rd, I learnt a lot about myself.
The following week I raced 70.3 Vietnam and took all the pressure off and just raced like I knew I could with my recent training form. It paid off and I produced one of my fastest swim and bike splits ever.
What’s the hardest race you’ve ever done and why?
My hardest race would have to be the Australian Four Day Enduro in 2013. This is a national off-road motorcycle event which includes riding up to 200km, 8 hours a day. Apart from service points every 40-50km, and the final 15 minute work period at the end of each day, you must be fully self-sufficient, as in able to repair your own bike, as well as riding trail sections within a time frame and racing “test” sections as fast as you can. Unfortunately, I had a few bike problems from day one which included losing oil, which I had to replace at every section. On Day 2 I had a huge crash in which I ended up breaking two ribs! I continued to race for the remaining two days and finished the event in 7th though. It was the toughest, most painful and demanding of events I’ve done to date both physically and mentally!
Image: Dimity-Lee Duke Instagram ©
How and why did you get involved as a Precision Hydration Sweat Test Centre?
I got into sweat testing purely for personal interest, I wanted to in be more successful as an athlete, but also because of my interest in the medical profession. I firmly believe understanding hydration is one of the keys to successful performance in any sport, as well as every day life.
You’re over in Europe for IM Frankfurt in early July, what are your main goals for 2016 and beyond?
Yes, I will be racing IM Frankfurt to collect more points towards my qualification for the Ironman World Championship. From there, I look forward to securing my spot and focusing on that race and my goal is to finish within the top 5 or 10. I’ll also do some local races in Thailand, as well as 70.3 IM Cebu in August, prior to the big event. My race schedule beyond that will depend on my result at the World Championships!
Thanks Dimity, best of luck in Frankfurt.
Follow Dimity, aka 'The Duke' by the way, on Twitter to find out how she get's on in Germany and beyond.