A Life Without Limits | Kate Strong
Tell us about Kate Strong
I have set out to prove that living within society’s comfort zone doesn’t always create inspiring and extraordinary results. One day, I decided to remove the glass ceiling on my potential and discover what was truly possible for my life. My story resonates with my audience because what I went through isn’t unique. Yet, how I dealt with it is; striving to better myself without getting attached to an end result.
I’ve climbed Mont Blanc with my 71 year-old father, grown a million-dollar business, become the World’s First female to cycle 24h on a static bicycle, become a World Champion in triathlon and had the strength to leave a toxic relationship.
Have you always been sporty?
I did a lot of sport growing up. I enjoyed playing any sport I could be exposed to, from tennis to swimming and lacrosse to javelin. Yet, I never had the drive to take it further than a social level. Whenever a coach said “you could get better if you took it a little more seriously”, I’d pull back because sport, to me, should be fun and not taken seriously.
What’s your why?
To live a life without limits and demonstrate that everyone can thrive while we strive for greatness.
How and when did you become age-group world triathlon champion?
September 2014 in Weihai, China
By swimming, cycling and running faster than anyone else that day! 😉
In 2013, I committed to living a life without a glass ceiling on my potential. In a TEDx talk, I announced I wanted to complete an Ironman and, not knowing my potential, the only goal I could aim for to realise this potential was number one. I wanted to discover what my best truly was, and committed to training like a Champion. Woking long hours in my business 7-days a week, meant I needed to upgrade my current habits and beliefs to support me.
In my fourth race, MurrayMan SA 2013, I became Australian Age-group National Champion and this planted the seed of being a World Champion and secured my place on the team set for China the following year.
What was the hardest and best part of becoming world champion?
The hardest part was squeezing in the training hours. I was working 10-12 hour days in my guesthouse with very few days off. I needed to wake up at 4am most mornings to ensure I ran or cycled before my work started and again after my guests had arrived later in the evening. I had many excuses to miss a session – too cold, too dark, too tired… – and it was the mornings when I finished a hard running session and returned drenched in sweat and shivering from the cold that also kept me committed to my journey of being my best and striving for number one in the World.
Tell us a little about the business you run / ran?
At the time, I was living in Australia in a rural town called Blackheath located about 110km west of Sydney. I had originally moved there with my boyfriend and we ran a guesthouse, restaurant, wine bar and event space. Long before the dream of being a World Champion existed, my partner and I broke up 6 days’ before our wedding and left me to run our business as well as manage the financial obligations alone.
I enjoyed serving guests, but the guesthouse needed me to work in the mornings and the restaurant was open until quite late which left me very little time to sleep or train!
Prior to the guest house, I had briefly owned a Subway Franchise and had worked as an engineer in aerospace, automotive and the fashion industries.
Tell us more about your recent world record attempt
After competing in 5 World Championships in 2015, I returned to the UK (my place of birth) exhausted, miserable and feeling quite isolated. For days, I would stay indoors, crying for no reason and struggling to speak with my friends. After achieving my dream of being World Champion, I had unconsciously put myself on a pedestal and had slowly disconnected from friends and also the reason I had started triathlon in the first place: For the love of striving to be my best.
It took quite a few months for me to embrace and share my feelings of being a little lost and to rediscover my passion for life.
At this time, I knew I wanted to create a new challenge for myself and to be only against myself. After some research, I noted that no female had attempted to cycle for 24 hours on a static bike and yet a male had. Maybe this could be my personal challenge? I trained while juggling a full-time job and a few weeks\ prior to the event date, I received news from Guinness that I needed to cover more than 700km for it to be counted as an official record.
Unfortunately, I knew that my training had not prepared me for this intensity and I still chose to compete and I covered 454km.
Why do you want to repeat it later this year?
My first attempt to cycle 24 hours was, again, for me to better myself. A record would have been a ‘nice to have’ so I had happily moved on from this record.
Earlier this year, I engaged a cycle coach to prepare me for an event in a few years’ time. And as my training increased, a global pandemic broke out and all my cycle was forced indoors on a static bike. Also, any outdoor competitions planned for the year were cancelled and my coach asked me to create a new milestone to keep me focused and motivated.
The 24 hour static bike challenge immediately jumped up in my mind.
One lasting impression from that last challenge was how many people engaged in what I was attempting and came back to me sharing their personal goals – children were running around the block, adults were joining the gym and i saw that by me pushing myself, others were given permission to push themselves too.
I want to inspire others to do more in their lives and re-attempting the World Record seems a great way to do that!
Tell us about the REALLY BIG challenge you announced in early June.
I’ve set an enormous goal for myself in 2022-2023: I am training to be the first female ever to swim the channel, cycle across America (in the Race Across America) and summit Everest.
- The channel swim (to be completed in August 2022) is one of the toughest open water swims in the world and is 17-23 miles of swimming, depending upon the current. For it to be official, I also can’t wear a wetsuit.
- The Race Across America (RAAM, June 2022) is 3,100mile race starting in Oceanside, CA and finishes on the opposite coast at Durango, CO and passes through t12 states and has 175,000 feet of climbing!
- Climbing Everest (April 2023) is the biggest unknown. I’m new to extreme mountaineering and don’t know how I will cope in altitude and the intense conditions experienced.
Why I set this goal is purely because it scares me. I believe that when I step up in one aspect of my life, other areas elevate with it too. With such a large goal, the smaller niggles of day-to-day life almost disappear and I notice that as I have less time to waste, I become more present, more productive, more alive.
I created this goal accidentally. I was speaking on a podcast and casually mentioned that the most extreme triathlon I could imagine would be channel swimming, RAAM cycling and Everest and the idea stayed with me.
How will you train and prepare for this challenge of challenges?
I appreciate the enormity of each challenge and I have engaged a cycle coach and experienced mountaineer to support me on these two sections. Cycle training has already started; over 2 years ahead of race day and once I can venture outdoors, I intend to start open water swimming again to get used to the temperature as much as the distance.
Altitude climbing will be harder to achieve, and I am researching ranges I can visit in 2021 as well as a few months’ prior to my summit attempt to prepare mentally for the climb and physically for the altitude.
Do you have any sporting heroes?
I don’t have any heros per say. I admire the zero to 5km finisher as much as the Olympic gold-medalist. People who are driven to better themselves, rather than the glory of the medal are my inspiration.
Read more about Kate’s incredible journey at https://www.katestrong.co.
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