Phoebe Kee started cross country running about two years ago, and she began taking triathlon seriously only when she joined Second Wind Academy’s ITU programme, earlier this year. Prior to this, she had used to be a basketball player.
But fast forward to today: In this short span of time, Phoebe, 17, an A Levels student at Victoria Junior College, has chalked up numerous achievements in both running as well as in the triathlon. These titles include becoming the Cross Country Champion, the 3000m champion and the 2000m Steeplechase champion, all in the 2017 National Schools A division track competitions, which had concluded earlier this year.
As well, she also represented Singapore by taking part in the 2017 Subic Bay ASTC Triathlon Junior Asian Cup which she had finished in a commendable fifth position. And more recently, Phoebe came in first in her category at the TRI-Factor Triathlon event (Sprint category) this year.
Triathlon atmosphere is amazing
Phoebe has never looked back since giving up basketball, and she has fallen in love with triathlon training and racing.
Said Phoebe, “I love triathlon. The atmosphere is so much fun and my team mates really push you during training sessions and races. They also help to keep me motivated and I enjoy spending time with them.”
But Phoebe admits that it is not easy to be good at three disciplines in triathlon. She said, “My run is the easiest, but I tend to struggle a lot in the swim. As my swim is weak, the run segment is where I have to start overtaking people. I have a lot of work to do if I want to catch up with the rest.”
Master the right technique
To do well in triathlon, Phoebe adds that mastering the right technique is definitely important. She said, “The technique is important, but what matters also is that to stay in the sport, you need to really enjoy it. There must be a passion that drives you into keep doing it. Having a coach is also important to correct your technique; there is no point in going for hard sessions but you keep using the wrong technique. You will not go far. That is what I realised when I got a coach this year.”
Phoebe also feels that setting goals are important to stay motivated. She said, “You need to have short and long term goals and every training session has to have a purpose. Otherwise you will go aimlessly and not get far. For example you need to know that by this time next year, you should hit a certain timing and type of training to get to a specific stage. For long term goals, some of my friends are targeting the South East Asian Games or the Olympics; to get there you will small goals to slowly shave down the seconds so that you can make it to that level.”
She added, “And to get faster, you need to focus on your weak spots and correct your technique, and of course, know why you are training. I used to swim a lot, but I did not really correct my strokes, so I was going harder but I could never get faster because my technique was wrong. I think that for the swim technique especially, it is very important to correct it and get the right strokes.”
She trains every day, juggling schoolwork and cross country racing with triathlon training
Phoebe herself trains every day, efficiently juggling her schoolwork and cross country racing together with her triathlon training. Besides being a national triathlete, she is also on her school’s cross country team.
Said Phoebe, “Sometimes I find it hard to get the motivation to push myself but I normally do mental preparation before each training session. If it is a hard session, I tell myself it will be done in less than two hours. During the holidays, I can do two sessions a day, for about 3-4 hours per session. I train once a day on Saturdays and Sundays though.”
She continued, “But now I am struggling in school, so I need to cut down on training. So now I have been doing one session a day. During my school’s cross country season, most of my training consists of running, but now that the season is over, I have been spending more time refining my swimming stroke in the pool.”
Speedy transitions are important to execute triathlon races well
To execute triathlon races well, Phoebe stresses that the transition time is important and that time is of the essence.
She said, “I think that people kind of underestimate the importance of the transitions. They walk in and take their time to wear their shoes, but they do not realise that these few seconds can add up, and you can lose quite a lot of time there.”
Mentally prepare how your race will go
She also explained that mentally preparing how you intend your race to go, will help to ensure that everything runs smoothly on the day.
Said Phoebe, “The night before a race, I would go through in my head what I am supposed to do. For example during the swim, do I want to swim hard? Or on the bike, what lap should I take a gel? Also, make sure you know the race course before going to the site, and when you are at the race village in the morning, get familiar with where the entrances and exits are, at the transition area.”
She continued, “Go through in your head too, what you will be doing during the transitions, for example, taking off your cap and putting on your shoes. I have seen people run out of transition with their bike helmet still on. So prepare yourself. I run through it in my head and take my helmet on and off a few times, mentally.”