25-year-old Starman Athlete Huw Brace joined us to chat about training for and completing Starman 2018.
Huw is a pretty exceptional athlete, living with the genetic condition Cystic Fibrosis (CF). The gene affected by CF controls the movement of salt and water in and out of cells. People with cystic fibrosis experience a build-up of thick sticky mucus in the lungs, digestive system and other organs, causing a wide range of challenging symptoms affecting the entire body. There is currently no cure for CF.
As this week is National CF Week, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to chat with Huw and help inspire others to complete their own epic challenges.
Starman: What inspired you to take part in Starman?
Huw: What could be more fun than racing around Scotland in the middle of the night?!
Starman: Have you ever raced at night before?
Huw: Nope! And this was my 3rd ever race. I started training for triathlons in January 2018 after setting myself a challenge of finding some of the coolest races around the country!
Starman: Our race is pretty cool! How does Cystic Fibrosis impact your training?
Huw: The weather can affect my performance on especially cold days as it will take a while for my chest to warm up, and can result in a few coughs in the first half hour or so. In the warmer weather, the volume of sweat pouring out of me has caught me out once or twice when I’ve forgotten my water!
Starman: What extra things do you need to think about on race day?
Huw: I have to be very careful to make sure I have fuelled properly before and during the race. This is to ensure that my energy and salt levels are maintained throughout the race. As malnutrition and excessive sweating are two symptoms of CF, it is important to make sure they don’t affect your performance on the day. This is easily done with regular snacks and plenty of isotonic drinks!
My personal plan for race fuel goes along the lines of: one snack bar (~150Kcal) and 500ml of water every hour. The water should be separated into two bottles of plain water and isotonic drink (2 tablets for every 500ml) to give you a break from the salt every now and then.
Carrying around all this stuff can be a bit of a nightmare, so sorting out a nice little array of bags on the bike allows you to fuel easily on the go, and a running vest with plenty of storage will see you carrying more than enough snacks!
Starman: What advice would you give others with CF wanting to start triathlons?
Huw: If you are starting from scratch, then little and often is the best way to go. Even if the exercise seems beneath you at the time, you are building the foundation for a strong race day with every stroke/pedal/ step you take. For those who are confident in their fitness and want a challenge, GO BIG! But be prepared to put the work in for it! Set yourself a goal that really excites you and blow it out of the water! If you are nervous or unsure of how to start training, get in touch with your Physio in your CF care team and they will happily give you all the advice you need to get started!
Starman: Do you have any other training tips for an event like Starman?
Huw: If you are lucky enough to be able to commute to work by bike/ foot, do so! Making this a daily event will do wonders for your baseline fitness, throw in a couple of longer sessions over the weekend and
you won’t go far wrong! That and zone 2 training, – read up on it, find out your correct heart rate zones and get to work!
Huw, it was an absolute pleasure to have you be part of the Starman gang of crazy adventurers. We wish you the very best of luck with your future endeavours.
If you have been inspired by Huw, you can make a donation to the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, which works towards a brighter future for everyone with cystic fibrosis by funding cutting-edge research, driving up standards of care and supporting people with the condition and their loved ones every step of the way.