We’re Inspired By – Kim Ingleby
NLP coach Kim Ingleby used her mental skills to tackle her own fear of open water for tri.
It was through her sports massage work that Kim was persuaded to try triathlon
When you’re looking for an expert to help you race triathlon, you hope to find someone who can relate to your experiences. By that measure, NLP coach Kim Ingleby is her own best advert, having used her mental training techniques to overcome her fear of open water and complete her first Ironman this year.
Kim had been interested in mind and body coaching since the age of 15, when she did a school project about mental and physical fitness in horse riders. It was a subject close to her heart: Kim competed in three-day eventing for years. “I loved it, and was known for being able to ride difficult horses that other people didn’t want to,” she says.
Kim’s first contact with the world of triathlon came through her work doing sports massage. Triathlete and official Richard Burvill was one of her clients and, when treating him after the Bath Triathlon, he suggested she give it a whirl. The next year she saw him again and he repeated the suggestion, and this time it held a greater appeal. “At that time I was financially stretched, and the three-day eventing was very expensive, so I thought I’d give it a go.”
Her first race experiences in 2004 were fairly typical. “I borrowed a bike and a wetsuit and did two races that year. I remember getting off the bike and thinking I had a puncture, but no – it had just been a hill!”
"I spent a lot of time mentally preparing because I'd heard that an Ironman is all about mental strength"
Kim made the tough decision to sell her horses and get into tri, qualifying for the ITU World Age Group Championships in Hawaii in 2005. Though she was enjoying each race more and more, there was one major hurdle to overcome: her fear of open water, picked up from an accident during one of her riding events. “I was at a competition and the weather was really bad, so the mud was really deep and the lake the event went past had risen. We went over a jump downhill and my horse lost her footing, and fell on top of me in the water. I could feel her kicking me and I remember kind of relaxing and thinking I couldn’t breathe.”
Kim ended up in hospital with fractures and bleeding on one of her kidneys. “It didn’t bother me getting back on the horse,” she says, “but when I swam in open water for the first time I had a massive panic attack. I hadn’t thought about the accident again until then, but it all came back. The mental skills I’d learnt were pivotal.”
She had to use those skills again this year when preparing for her next big triathlon challenge: an Ironman. It hadn’t been on Kim’s to do list, but when her best friend lost a baby in June 2011 while living in Saudi Arabia, Kim felt she needed to do something to help, and decided to raise money for Sands (Stillbirth and neonatal death charity, uk-sands.org). Kim was no stranger to fundraising: both individually and with the company she runs, Energised Performance (energisedperformance.com), she has raised a total of more than £30,000 since 2004. This time, though, it was personal. “My friend is someone who usually gets on with things but this had really knocked her,” she says. “I emailed her about my idea and didn’t really think she’d say yes, as she’s always telling me to stop doing crazy things! I entered at the end of February because it took me a while to get my head around it – but by then I didn’t have that long to train.”
"It's just amazing to see someone relax, enjoy what they're doing and fulfil their potential"
To complicate matters further, Kim herself was undergoing a series of cervical biopsies which left her unable to train strenuously for five to 10 days each time. She made it to race week though, and started putting into practice her own mental training techniques. “I spent a lot of time mentally preparing and doing mental rehearsals, because everyone had told me that if you’ve done the physical training, Ironman is all about mental strength.”
As race day came around, Kim saw her preparation paying off straight away. “I went to transition and everyone was doing lots of things. I just walked around my bike and thought, ‘well it’s here, it’s ready, what else is there?’ I think that shows what a novice I was but also that I was really mentally prepared.”
The race itself – as is so often the case in long-distance events –didn’t quite go to plan, so again Kim had to use the training she’d done to stay calm. “I did the swim in exactly the time I thought I would. I felt much colder when I came out than I expected and, because I suffer from Raynaud’s Syndrome [a condition which affects circulation to the hands and feet, making them cold] it took me ages to get my bike kit on. The first two bike laps were as I thought they would be but then it got much hotter than it had been all summer so I knew I had to slow down. In my mental training, I had created strategies for all the ‘what ifs’, so I just managed to finish on the bike. On the last lap I was passed by a few paratriathletes on hand bikes, so that was really inspiring.”
After a lie-down in T2 to cool down, Kim headed on to the run and again her mind training came into play. “Towards the end I started to feel quite good, but stuck to my plan because my aim was just to finish for my friend.”
Kim did finish exactly as planned, raising around £3,000 for Sands in the process. “I learned so much about myself and my work from doing the Ironman,” she says. “I think it was a quote I read somewhere that said it’s about finding out that where you think your boundaries are, and where they actually are, are very different. It’s true.”
Her own triathlon goals for 2013 are yet to be set. “I’m waiting for clear results from my final biopsies before finalising my races, and I have an exciting list to choose from,” she says.
Meanwhile Kim’s own triathlon experiences continue to inform her work with other triathletes. “The main thing I get from my work is seeing people’s potential, but they have all this stuff around them that might be limiting them. They’re not achieving what they could because they’ve lost their enjoyment. It’s just amazing to see someone relax and enjoy what they’re doing and fulfil their potential.
“It doesn’t matter what level they’re at, the skills are the same. It’s a privilege for people to trust me to work with them, and the results are fantastic.”
This article was originally published in Triathlon Plus magazine. Save time and money by having every issue delivered to your door or digital device by subscribing to the print edition or buying digitally through Zinio or Apple Newsstand.
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on Sunday, November 25th, 2012 at 5:30 am under Magazine.
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