6-5-1@SPARTA interview with Melissa Hauschildt

It is hard to believe that the triathlon career of the reigning Ironman 70.3 World Champion Melissa Hauschildt (nee Rollison) only began in mid-2010.

She may have burst onto the triathlon scene from nowhere but Melissa was no stranger to those of us (myself included) who follow Australian athletics. A Commonwealth Games silver medallist with multiple Australian records & 6 x Open Australian Championships under her belt, Melissa was a familiar face in the sport.

Unfortunately Melissa’s preparation for the Dehli Commonwealth Games was derailed by injury in mid-2010. While using a bike for her rehabilitation & cross-training, Melissa soon made the decision to switch to triathlons.

And she hasn’t stopped winning since.

Her first season saw numerous wins and a handful of course records within the space of a few months.

And then in only her second season in the sport, she won the Ironman 70.3 World Championship.

I am really honoured to welcome Melissa to SPARTA ~

1/. What is the biggest challenge to your motivation & how do you overcome that?

The biggest challenge I find with staying motivated is the early mornings. Most mornings I am up before 4:30am (on a Saturday I am up at 3:30am). To keep this up I must have the discipline to have naps during the day and get to bed early. Sometimes when I just don’t want to get up I think about my next race/goal and I tell myself that the harder I train now, the more prepared I will be on race day. And when you’ve done everything right in training your confidence heading into a race is much higher.

2/. Aside from training for the 3 disciplines, what other training do you do (eg, strength, stretching, core etc) & how important is it to your performance?

I go to the gym once a week. Here I’ll spend about 60-80min on a full body strength workout. I do a lot of own body weight exercises, core and stretching. I also do weights but I keep them light with fast repetitions.

Another two days a week I will do a core circuit at home. It is only short (usually 15-20min) but intense. A strong core is vital for triathletes to maximize their performance.

3/. Before your transition to triathlon, you were one of Australia’s leading  female track athletes specialising in (amongst other events) the steeplechase. That is one event most of us have never attempted!

What lessons did you learn from the steeplechase that you have been able to apply in your triathlon career?

The steeplechase is a tough event. You have to be a fast runner but also a strong runner. Core strength is very important as you have to remain stable and efficient while jumping the steeples even when you start to tire.

I think this has greatly helped me in triathlon. By the time I’m up to the run leg (21km) I’ve already completed 90km of cycling and 1.9km of swimming. I’m tired and I have to stay strong and not lose technique in the run.

4/. You have experienced a lot of battles with injuries over the years. What inspired you to (try to) return to top level competition?

I couldn’t give up!

Even after many in the running world thought I was finished I wouldn’t accept it. Running was my life. But it was also getting me down. Continually breaking down just before major competitions. I needed a break but I loved being active so I bought a bike, joined a cycling club and competed in all the local cycling races. I loved competing again and considered switching to cycling but I wasn’t too keen on the tactics of cycling. I wanted a sport where the strongest, fastest athlete would win. Never having swam before triathlon didn’t even cross my mind until a guy from my cycling club (now my manager) kept persisting that I give it a go.

5/. If you weren’t a professional triathlete, what would you do & why?

If I werent a professional triathlete I’d probably be trying to find another sport I could excel in. I love the competion. I love setting and achieving goals. And I like pushing my body to the limit, seeing how far I can go.

6/. If you could go back in time & give one piece of advice to yourself when you were 18, what advice would that be?

Don’t be afraid to take a break, miss a day.

If you’ve got a small niggle – rest it! Don’t expect it to go away by continually pushing through the pain.

Great advice! Thank you Melissa for your time.

You can follow Melissa’s adventures on her website at www.melissahauschildt.com or on Twitter at @melhauschildt.