Meet Stef Jackson-Horner!
Stef is a full time PE teacher in the UK and international aquathlete (a two-stage race involving swimming followed by running). She is a National Aquathlon Champion runner-up 2015 and qualified for European and world championships. Stef is also an Ordnance Survey #GetOutside Champion, promoting the outdoors.
Here, Stef talks about the competitive spirit and trusting in yourself.
What was the impetus behind competing in aquathlons?
I started with a few triathlons, however the bike section wasn’t really my thing; with teaching I didn’t have time to fit in the long rides needed and I don’t have a road bike so I decided I would stick to aquathlons. At that point I didn’t even know they were really a ‘thing’ but the more I got in to it the more I found I enjoyed sticking to the swim and run, and that is what I wanted to focus my training on.
Before setting out on aquathlons what were your doubts/fears/concerns and how did you overcome these?
I always get very nervous before races as I want to do my best – ultimately win – but also I know it is about enjoying it and not being overly competitive. I am very competitive ands that’s what drives me. Before the European championships I was extremely nervous. It wasn’t until 6pm so it meant I had all day waiting and worrying. I prefer morning races as it avoids this. I think it is always good to have some nerves as it fuels your fire and adrenaline, however too much can make you too emotional.
What is the main thing you have learnt (about life or yourself) from these experiences?
I think this is to trust in yourself. Before the first few races I was really worried, I didn’t want to let anyone down; I wanted to do well but I didn’t have any experience to draw upon to know how I would do. I soon learnt that it’s just your mind that needs convincing; your body can be pushed way beyond its current limits and by doing that in training regularly you get to know how really hard effort feels, then when it comes to the races you can take the time to go hard but enjoy it trusting in what you have done previously.
“I soon learnt that it’s just your mind that needs convincing; your body can be pushed way beyond its current limits”
What would be your dream adventure/experience/competition and why – and why haven’t you done it yet?
I would love to do something unusual, something that isn’t even thought of yet – like a triathlon at a top of a mountain, swim around an island, paddle board in the world’s highest lake, that sort of thing. If I had all the money in the world, a campervan to travel in and no job I would have done but unfortunately life gets in the way. Teaching is an extremely demanding career; yes we have holidays which obviously are lovely and I try to get away each holiday to see a new country and do something adventurous but in term time I am very much restricted to what I can do where I currently live.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
To drive forwards. My husband always says this to me in training. It started as a literal thing of focusing on my running technique when I was going through an intense block of sprint training, however it is something now that I often think about when things get hard, whether this be in training or at work. What ever it is you can drive forwards, through it and out the other side with more power than before.
If you were stuck on a desert island, what three thing would you have with you and why?
My husband for company, laughs and he is the best training partner/coach there is. My surf board as a form of transport and hours of fun in the waves. And scuba gear – you might as well make the most of enjoying the oceans you’re in.