Three times the fun
Natalie Sheehan doesn’t do anything by halves, just always in threes. The triathlon and Homeloans BDM combines work, triathlon and her personal life – and she tackles each at 100 per cent. HomeHub caught up with Natalie to find out how she does it.
You took up triathlon five years ago – what made you decide to take up the sport?
I caught the triathlon bug when I entered the ‘Triathlon Pink’ with some friends five years ago and I loved it so much I wanted to do more. It was only a mini triathlon, but it was a great day out and I loved the competitive and friendly atmosphere on the day. I was hooked!
When did you start competing in serious triathlon competitions?
I entered the Gatorade Triathlon Series in Melbourne in October 2009 and began racing and training consistently. I also found a running coach and began stepping up to longer distances.
This year you represented Australia in the ITU World Triathlon Grand Final at Edmonton, Canada, how did you do?
To represent Australia in Triathlon was the realisation of a dream. I had to pinch myself when I first put on the green and gold uniform. It was an amazing opportunity, an amazing experience and a huge buzz to be competing overseas against athletes from 73 countries.
I achieved two personal bests in the swim and the bike leg in one of my two events, but was outside of medal contention in my 40-44-year-old age category.
Where else have you competed?
To gain selection for the Australian team meant travelling to a number of different states to compete. My favourite destination races so far have been Noosa, Devonport, Cape Patterson, Coffs Harbour and Yarrawonga.
How do you combine your role as a Homeloans BDM and an Australian triathlete?
There are days when my schedule is nothing short of chaotic, especially a few weeks before a major event and my kids often joke about how I am regularly asleep on the couch by 9pm. My car also looks like a homeless person lives in it because there are towels, swimmers, goggles, about three pairs of runners, bike shoes, bike parts, coffee cups, hats and various protein bar wrappers in there at any one time!
I’m a morning person so the early morning training energises me for the day ahead, and I love the fast pace of my role at Homeloans. Being able to do what I love both personally and professionally on a daily basis is something I am very grateful for.
Describe your typical day
A good training day starts at 5.45am with a group ride for 30-40km followed by a quick coffee before showering and heading off to work (hence my hair is usually worn in a ponytail all summer)! I try to swim either around lunch time or in the evening alternating swim training with running during the week. In wet weather, spin classes take the place of bike rides, and running is on a treadmill.
Over a week I notch up to four swim sessions, five bike rides, three runs plus a five km timed race on a Saturday morning known as Parkrun to work on my speed.
What do you enjoy about triathlon?
I enjoy the variety of racing in three disciplines as there is always something I need to work on. I have always enjoyed swimming, have found riding to be a great way to meet new people, and I am learning to enjoy running longer distances after having never been a natural runner. The social aspect is fantastic and there are so many great places to travel to compete in races.
As I step up to half ironman distance now the World Championships are over, I will work on my endurance to reduce the risk of injury.
What is your advice for people wanting to combine sport and professional life?
I would break this down into three areas:
- Know yourself well, physically, physiologically and psychologically.
This includes knowing my limitations and understanding what it looks and feels like to be physically fit and performing well, without feeling fatigued or unable to function at work. Nutrition plays an important part in my day, with lots of water and a fairly balanced diet helping me to train, recover and feel great throughout the working day.
- Understand the role that Triathlon plays in your life and keep it in perspective.
I compete in triathlon because I love it, it keeps me fit, challenges me constantly and I get to train and compete amongst like-minded people. I also love my role at Homeloans and am passionate about helping people and the fantastic team that I work with.
- Planning your time wisely maximises your performance in daily life.
Some weeks this works out better than others, but having flexibility in my training schedule is a necessity.
Have you always been involved in sports?
I have always loved sports. I played competitive tennis growing up, always loved swimming and played various team sports at school. Add to this gymnastics and ice-skating, and you could say I have always been involved in one sport or another.
Do you come from a sporty family?
Yes. My two younger brothers were both successful junior tennis players before switching to golf in their early teens. My youngest brother has won major tournaments here and overseas and is a professional golfer. Needless to say, I don’t try to compete with them on the golf course!
Who has been your greatest influence in your life and why?
My parents always encouraged me to follow my dreams. As a result, I have always believed that I can have a go at anything and succeeding is based on how much effort I put in. Certainly having two brothers to compete with (you should see us play Monopoly or table tennis!) has always been a great incentive to work and play hard! As a family, we are all very supportive of each other’s goals and celebrate achievements together along the way.
Triathlon is an expensive sport, how do you fund your equipment, travel etc.?
I work hard! Luckily I have a great job at Homeloans and have also been fortunate to secure sponsorship for overseas events.
You are an ambassador for the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF), is there a reason you support this particular good cause?
I have had people close to me die from cancer and others who continue to battle the disease. I became an ambassador for the NBCF in 2013 and raise funds as part of the Noosa Triathlon. It’s something I‘ve been involved with for a few years now and it’s always wonderful to be invited back and race as part of the NBCF team. The Noosa Triathlon is definitely my favourite event.
What advice would you give to someone considering getting into triathlons?
Just do it. Don’t worry about whether you have the right equipment, what you wear or where you come in the race. Just enter, turn up, have fun, and enjoy the whole experience!