My Other Life: Stephen Ridley, triathlon competitor

Stephen Ridley bike

When not busy as lead cyber underwriter at Hiscox UK and Ireland, Stephen Ridley competes in triathlons.

How did your interest in triathlons start?

One of my good mates was training to complete an Ironman, and it sounded like a good challenge to complete myself for my 30th birthday. I did a few sprint distances to start, and was hooked from the outset.

How did you build up your skills?

A lot of training – I can be squeezing in up to 15 or 16 hours per week (on top of a full-time job) in peak season. I don’t have any kind of swim background, so that is where I have had to focus a lot of effort, with it being such a skill-based sport – up to five sessions a week. I’m still normally some way down after that first leg, which is always a swim, but thankfully the run is my strongest, so having that last helps.

What is the triathlon experience like?

It can be pretty daunting. It typically involves a very early start, and you can’t help but compare yourself to everyone before you even begin. Whose bike looks fastest? Who will I likely be racing against? Will I survive the swim? I get the same butterflies and doubts every time, but once the race starts, it’s great. There’s almost always fantastic support, and most people are very friendly, with a great sense of camaraderie between competitors. The endorphin release after crossing the finish line is unlike anything else!

How has the experience changed you?

It’s given me a great sense of discipline, and awareness of time management. I have to be very well organised to fit all of the training in, as well as balancing the day job. And at times it involves significant sacrifice – the most difficult of which being alcohol in the build-up to a major race.

Any crossover between triathlons and your insurance day job?

In a similar vein to cycling, there is a real focus on ‘marginal gains’ in triathlon, with small amounts of weight or aerodynamic savings potentially having a significant impact. I often ask myself ‘Will it make me go faster?’ and the same transitions to work. For example, will attending this meeting, or completing this piece of work actually have a material impact on business performance? Or is it just a meeting for meeting’s sake?

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