“Triathlon is great, but then what do you do after you’re done?”
was immediately followed by a few long days in the field.
Holtham has at times been able to use the necessary travel to enhance his training, though, adding extra time to trips to warm locations when he would otherwise be stuck in the Vancouver winter. Holtham’s race schedule is also built around his travel to avoid competing immediately after a taxing trip. He also understands, from past experience, how to prepare for a race.
“I just keep pretty flexible with my training. For me I’ve learnt over the years that I’m better to be undertrained than overtrained.” says Holtham.
Like Holtham, Killam also has to adapt to what is going on at work. The unusual eight-day schedule is something he has incorporated into his training. This means that he can plan long workouts for his days off and reduce the time or intensity on work days. This can make it difficult to achieve consistency or have training partners, but this is something Killam has got used to.
“I’ve had shifts where we’ve had two fires at night. So you’re just absolutely destroyed. You’re useless for a day. So that next day I’ll sleep all the way to the afternoon and then I’ll just go back to work.” says Killam.
Planning a race schedule can be tricky for Killam. Some weekends he is lucky and races fall during his four days off, but at other times he has to use holiday time to he does allows him to live a more comfortable lifestyle alongside competing. He also acknowledges that there is life after triathlon.
“Triathlon is great, but then what do you do after you’re done?” says Holtham. For Killam, becoming a firefighter was his dream job. He finds it a great way to switch off and not become obsessed with triathlon, and the work is incredibly fulfilling.
“I’m still excited to go to work. You never know what’s going to happen.” says Killam. “You could save somebody’s life, and that’s super rewarding.”
There are clearly several ways to make it as a professional triathlete. Giving up everything for the sport is one option. But Killam and Holtham show that with enough determination and discipline, it’s possible to be a top¬level athlete, work full time and have a strong family life.
Luke Yates is a freelance journalist from Vancouver.