Me and my health: triathlete Lauren Strange on her lifestyle
The 19-year-old triathlete, from Tildarg near Ballyclare, is in her first year at Ulster University, Jordanstown, studying Sport Studies, and is hoping to compete in the World Championships this year. A qualified lifeguard, she works part-time in a local leisure centre and lives with her parents and younger sister Katie.
Q: Do you take regular exercise and, if so, what?
A: Triathlon is a combination of three disciplines - swimming, bike and running. My training is a full-time commitment - I train all year round and compete April to September. I train six days per week and an average week for me would be four or five two-hour swim sessions, four bike sessions and four run sessions. I have been swimming since I was five and joined a local running club at the age of nine. My competitions take me all over the UK and Ireland and I have also competed internationally at the ITU World Age Group Championships in Rotterdam and the European Championships in Glasgow. My goal this year is to compete in Lausanne, Switzerland, at the World Championships for Ireland. My long term goal is to compete for Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games. My achievements to date would not have been possible without the support of my family and the Mary Peters Trust, as they have supported and guided me over the last four years of competing.
Q: What is the worst illness you've had?
A: I have been very lucky and have been relatively injury-free throughout my years of training. This is down to listening to my body and giving it time to recover after tough training sessions. The worst sickness I probably have had was an abscess on my tooth, which was really painful, but I survived.
Q: How healthy is your diet?
A: I eat very healthily and have a good balanced diet during my normal week with a few treats along the way. I make sure to limit the amount of fast food I take as it makes me feel sluggish when training. I also ensure that I consume at least four litres of water per day to keep my body hydrated and prepared for training.
Q: Any bad habits?
A: A bad habit that my mum can't stand is that I crack my fingers, but according to professionals it is healthy as it releases pressure in the hands. But my mum still hates it!
Q: Do you drink and smoke and, if so, how much?
A: I'm not teetotal and I do enjoy a well-made cocktail, but with training I tend to only drink on special occasions. I may sound old before my time but I prefer dinner and a few cocktails rather than an evening at a nightclub.
Q: Do you take any supplements?
A: I would take multivitamins if I feel slow or tired, but I don't tend to need them that often, generally just on tough training weeks, as my healthy balanced diet benefits my health.
Q: How do you take time out?
A: My time out is just being a normal teenager, spending time with my family and also my boyfriend Lochlainn, going out for dinner or catching a movie. My boyfriend is studying as well and he plays rugby, so that helps as he understands what I need to do regarding training and studying and trying to keep it all well balanced.
Q: How well do you sleep?
A: With all the training that I do and the early morning swim sessions, I don't have any problems sleeping. As soon as my head hits the pillow I am out cold! I also take a power nap if needed after my early morning swim session to get me ready for university.
Q: Do you worry about getting old?
A: I'm not worrying about getting old at the minute - maybe in five or six years when I'll be approaching my 30s. I just enjoy life and live it to the full and take each day as it comes.
Q: What is your go-to product that keeps you feeling healthy?
A: My family are amazing and they have always been there to support me. My mum and dad just want me to enjoy what I am doing and they help me to get the balance right so that I can be the best at what I do and enjoy it at the same time. My mum has taught me from when I was little to be organised and this is always key to everything I do. My dad helps with my training and travels to all my races and supports me when the nerves kick in and my sister Katie just keeps me grounded and tells me when I'm being silly!