Sam Harris is new to the sport of triathlon and already securing his spot at the top in all of the races he has touched down on the start line of. Determined as ever, and despite several injury setbacks, Sam plans on qualifying for the Sprint Distance Age Group World Championships to represent Australia. A sucker for punishment and stickler for the particular, Sam leaves no stone un-turned in his rehab and in his preparation. Read on to hear how Sam uses mind over matter to conquer setbacks and work through challenges to become the best athlete he can be…
Hi, I am Sam, and I am studying a Bachelor of Education at Griffith University. I am 28 years old, and my goal is to make the Age Group Sprint Distance Team, with a long-term view to move into Ironman Distance racing – maybe when I reach around 30.
Born and bred in Brisbane, Queensland, I am in the perfect place to pursue the sport and definitely keen to have a crack at it.
HOW DID YOU GET INTO TRIATHLON, SAM?
I did my first ever Triathlon race in September 2020 and instantly became hooked by the sport. A friend was doing a triathlon and asked if I’d like to join. I had a great experience, in spite of only getting on a bike four months before!
Not long after that race I reached out and started working with a coach. Going from 10th spot to standing on the podium within 4 races fuelled my drive and passion.
Only a few months after my first race, I spoke with my coach about the possibility of aiming for the Australian Age Group Team and how realistic it was for someone who had just started out. We came up with a plan and a full season of racing qualifying events around the country (subject to covid restrictions).
Not long after, I had my best race to date, finishing 9 minutes ahead of 2nd place at a longer distance race than I would normally race. So, it made sense to keep going!
HAVE YOU HAD ANY SETBACKS IN SPORT SINCE STARTING?
Later that year is when it went downhill very quickly… I started to get some pretty bad pains in my thigh after training. X-rays and an MRI scan showed that I had a stress fracture in my femur. I went through a period of time of no walking, running or cycling.
A few months later, after recovering from my femur stress fracture, I began slowly increasing my training and started getting severe pains again. This time in my shins. An MRI showed I had stress fractures in both of my tibias.
I have since healed the stress fractures and began working with a new coach. I am racing soon in my first race in almost a year, and this will be the race I use as a discretionary application for the Age Group Sprint Team.
WHAT HAVE YOU CHANGED AND WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNT FROM BEING INJURED?
Basically, since being injured, I have done a complete overhaul of everything. Nutrition, recovery, training… the lot to be honest, and it as taught me so many important lessons.
Working closely with a dietitian, exercise physiologist, and physio have all really helped.
I work in a physically demanding job with lots of time spent on my feet, so I have had to learn to factor this in. I now take a smarter approach to walking when at work, so for example, instead of walking 30,000 steps some days, I now try to reduce it to give my legs a bit of a break!
From a nutrition standpoint, I didn’t used to eat dairy or red meat, simply because I didn’t like the taste of either. However, since being injured, I have learnt that certain food groups cannot be excluded easily without risk of injury, so I have discovered how to incorporate these in my diet in order to have a more balanced approach.
I have also learnt not to rush. When had the stress fracture in the femur, I decided not to settle for anything less than a short period of time for my recovery, but I soon learnt that you cannot rush the body’s healing!
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH CHALLENGES MENTALLY?
I feel like I am a little bit of a Type A personality and love detail! I have a calendar for every month I have been injured and each day write down what I have eaten, how much I have walked, how I felt and any other factors that might influence my recovery. This has helped me track my progress and look for patterns objectively. Tracking allows me to work towards my overall goal and it is great to be able to look back and see how far I’ve come.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER ATHLETES NEW TO A SPORT?
1. I think with triathlon and any sport really, you are always learning and always growing, so don’t be afraid to try new things.
2. Take your time and you will get there – there is no need to rush – Rome wasn’t built in a day!
3. Just show up to training if you are in a squad, and often you’ll surprise yourself when you get there.
Why do you choose Bindi?
I think because of previous my dietary and gut health problems, a lot of products I had tried before were too thick and too sweet, and I found them difficult to digest. I tried the Bindi Sports Hydration and it worked so well. I now use it in every session I do!