VALA ambassador: Charlie Harding
Hey Charlie, can you tell us a bit about your achievements so far?
I’m currently in the North West Triathlon Academy and I compete in the British Super Series. I recently won the Epic Lakes Windermere 1 mile swim and the Windermere Sprint Triathlon. I’ve achieved a Top 3 in the British Triathlon Mini race day event and I compete nationally in swimming and running races. Last year I guided a partially sighted athlete to 1st in the British Paratriathlon super sprint champs.
What inspired you to get into triathlons?
I remember watching my mum complete a local triathlon – I thought it looked like loads of fun so I joined the local triathlon club and kicked it all off from there.
How long have you been doing triathlons for?
I first started competing at the age of seven and I’ve been racing and training ever since.
What’s your favourite thing about them?
I love how social and friendly the sport is. You get to meet lots of new friends all over the country and you get to train and race in beautiful parts of the world. I also love the feeling of working towards a goal and achieving it!
Where’s your favourite place to train?
I’ve been to Portugal a few times with the North West Academy and it was an amazing experience training over winter in a hot country. There were so many awesome running and cycling routes and the beach was only a five minute walk, so we could swim in the sea when we wanted.
What keeps you motivated on days when it seems harder than usual?
I think training with a group of people is so important for motivation, as we all push each other to go out for a run or complete a hard session. Listening to music also helps me focus on hard turbo sessions.
Is there a specific athlete in your field that inspires you and what do you admire about them?
Originally the Brownlee brothers were a huge inspiration – I loved how dominant and aggressive they were at every race and they were always brilliant to watch. Now I’ve realised how impressive all the athletes are that I compete against within my own age category. It can be very difficult to balance your training and school work. I have huge respect for all the athletes who manage this.
Why do you enjoy using VALA?
I love the fact that VALA is a natural gel and it's the only natural gel I have ever found! I’ve also noticed how brilliant the effects of it are and how it helps give me a great burst of energy. It tastes amazing and the packaging makes it easy and accessible to consume when I need it the most!
What does ‘natural sports nutrition’ mean to you?
Natural sport nutrition should be clean without any unnatural colours or flavourings added. It should also aim to help your body in the long term and not be bad for you later in life.
What are your top three tips for someone else thinking of getting into your sport?
1. Train with a group – It’s so much more fun training with other people and you get more out of each session.
2. Consistency is key to getting faster. Try and keep the volume of training similar each week. It’s better to train consistently than do loads of training one week and nothing the next.
3. Improving your swimming technique can massively help your swim speed. Look up some drills or ask someone to analyse your technique. Work on your inefficiency and improve upon it... your swim speed will rapidly increase.