From Scotland to Kona (via Swimrun and XTRI)

By Chris Knight | 4 Minute Read

We always enjoy hearing from athletes who've been using Precision Hydration to stay hydrated on their way to achieving their goals, so we were delighted when Graeme Stewart got in touch with us recently.

Graeme boasts an impressive sporting CV - he's a three-time Scottish Middle Distance Champion, a finisher of multiple extreme triathlons, a swimrunner, and a coach.

Graeme reached out to let us know that he'd used PH en route to achieving his best ever run at the Norseman earlier this year and we caught up with him to talk about his upcoming trip to the IRONMAN World Championships in Kona...

 

Hi Graeme, thanks for your time and as with any good story, let's start at the very beginning. Tell us how you got into triathlon...

Well, I started to get into sports at university and my focus was on keeping fit really, so marathons or triathlons were inconceivable at any level at that time.

It was much later, while working towards my PhD in biochemistry, that a colleague got me into competitive running events.

I moved quickly to triathlon though because, for me, that was the pinnacle of what you could do in terms of personal fitness and I wanted to be super fit! 

 

And so how did that initial interest in triathlon blossom into you becoming a multiple extreme triathlon finisher?  

I started out with short events like most people and progressed over about three years to IRONMAN, so I've done a lot of courses and clocked three sub-8:30 finishes in Barcelona and Roth.

I've also done a bit of Swimrun too and it's a great format. It really gets you out into nature in a 'down and dirty' way, and it can be a real challenge in terms with the temperature extremes! 

Getting very hot running in a wetsuit then getting straight in very cold loch water is tough. My biggest mistake was wearing a heat-seeker vest as I was so afraid of get hypothermic, but then I had the complete opposite reaction and just about blew a gasket at halfway and needed to get it off. 

I do XTRI now because I wanted something different and more of an adventure where you challenge your body and mind in more diverse ways. The community spirit is so much greater with the smaller XTRI races and even with world famous events like Norseman it feels like you're catching up with family when you go back.

 

 

You sent us a message to say that our products had helped with your hydration at the Norseman recently. Tell us a bit about why you use PH and how it's made a difference... 

As a heavier sweater, I have realised staying cool and hydrating properly are key ways for me to perform well in the heat.

I struggled at IM Lanzarote this year and that was a real wake up call for me. I realised that if I wanted to perform at my best in Kona, then I really needed to 'walk the walk' and take on my own advice about developing and practicing an effective nutrition (and hydration) strategy

PH ticked the boxes for me because the products contain high sodium levels and citrate salt, which, without getting into deep with biochemistry, has benefits. It also has sugar which apart from delivering calories can also have hydration benefits. 

What I immediately found was I could absorb it very well and my stomach was a lot happier during training when I'm drinking PH 1000. Certainly at Norseman the nutrition plan started to come together and I managed to run a strong race [Graeme ran the fastest 'Zombie Hill' of the day] with no stomach problems in pretty strong heat. 

 

You had an amazing race at the Norseman, but what's next for you? We heard from a little bird that you're going to Kona, what are your expectations there?  

There’s a lot of great athletes that fall to bits in Kona, so my only real goal is to put together a good race and if I can do that then I’ll be in the mix in the 40-44 age group hopefully.

Where we live in Scotland is quite rural so it's not practical to get to a sauna for heat acclimatisation, but we are lucky in that we have a small home gym and Endless Pool.

I have been able to crank it to 35°C (95°F) and 90% humidity when I can lose 2500ml per hour in sweat. Knowing this will help me to be really disciplined with practicing the hydration in training and not use the excuse that it's cold. Also, I think having a clear idea of cooling strategies and UV protection is something we forget about sometimes. 

 

It sounds like you've got a good grasp of your own requirements for racing. How would you describe your approach to coaching and what's been your proudest result as a coach? 

I mostly work remotely as you might imagine but I allow communication as required and provide as much or as little feedback as my athletes need.

Sometimes this can be very little and athletes just need the push to work hard, but often we can go through fairly in-depth file analysis and work out designs for specific courses for instance.

I like it when athletes can message me about today's or tomorrows workouts when they need to change stuff, rather than having them try to cram sessions or compensate in the wrong way, like doing half the time but twice as hard.

I'm happy to negotiate though and often help people out with plans.

We also have a swim squad here in Inverness and I do swim analysis out of our Endless Pool, while we're also trying to arrange more sessions together. 

It's too hard to pick a proudest moment but with my particular lean to XTRI I was very proud to see Dirk Zangen and Bonnie VanWilgenberg both go back and win Celtman.

I am also very proud to see the number of athletes I have coached that have gone on to train and coach others successfully themselves, which must be one of the ultimate goals in coaching.

 

Absolutely. Thanks for talking to us today Graeme, and best of luck for Kona!

 

Was this article useful?

Share this article

Get your free personalized hydration plan

Take the sweat test