Sam Mileham is fast making a name for himself as an outstanding junior triathlete. Since his first race at just 9 years old he has competed for Great Britain in sprint distance races across the country and internationally. Sam talked to Outdoor Fitness about his grueling training regime, juggling sport and A-Levels and qualifying for the World Championships.
How did you first get into competitive triathlon?
I was first introduced to triathlon when I was 9, taking part in my local event. My dad was a big influence. I started racing competitively when I was 13 after placing 6th in the regional league and realising I may have some potential. 6th in the Eastern region got me into the British Youth Elite Super Series with my first race at Blenheim Palace- a fantastic race!
It was tough, there isn’t really any other way to put it, and the standard was very high but from that race I was motivated to do a lot better. I started working with Dermott Hayes of RGActive, who is still my coach now, and he got involved to help me progress to where I am now competing in the British Junior Elite Super Series as well as World and European Age Group level.
In the past year I have also managed to secure sponsorship deals with Pedal Potential and Zone 3 who are both brilliant sponsors who help me progress, giving me financial support as well as great kit to race to the highest level in.
What have been some of the most challenging events you have competed in?
I suppose one race stands out for me, it wasn’t my greatest but that was why it was so challenging. The 2015 British Elite Duathlon Championships. 60kmh winds, rain and sleet you name it. I crashed almost straight away on the bike but got back up. From there I was never going to catch people up but I worked and worked and worked and eventually finished near the back. Just for the weather it was probably the most challenging race I’ve ever done!
What have been some of the best moments?
Three stand out for me here. First, a while back in 2014 I won the British Age Group Youth Championship, it was completely unexpected and something I won’t forget. I entered it simply for experience, being able to say I had taken part in the British Championships. I had no expectation of winning it.
Secondly would be the European Championships in Geneva last year. Hot and humid, my favourite racing conditions! I had the swim of my life and the bike course was perfectly suited to me: a big hill, steep descent and a nice flat bit too. It was my first race abroad and I loved every minute of it. Coming home in 19th place I could not have been happier! A race I will always remember.
The third isn’t a race, but earlier this year I was nominated and shortlisted for 220 Triathlon Youth Triathlete of the Year. I remember getting a tweet saying I had made the shortlist and I was more than shocked. I am very proud to have been on the shortlist with some other great athletes and I will never forget that.
Take us through some of your training regime
I train almost every day of the week. I have one rest day every two weeks at the moment. A normal week will be around 12 hours of training with 2 runs, 3 bikes, 5 swims and 2 strength and conditioning sessions. Swimming takes up the majority of my plan as that is the discipline I believe that needs most work. I swim 5 times a week, 4 times with a swim squad and once either on my own doing technique or with Swim Canary Wharf. Here is an example of weeks training:
Monday – 1hr run intervals and strength and conditioning
Tuesday – 1hr swim and 1hr 15min bike intervals
Wednesday – 40min tempo run
Thursday – 1hr swim and 45min bike intervals
Friday – 1hr swim and strength and conditioning
Saturday – 1hr swim
Sunday – 1hr swim and either 2hr tempo bike or brick session
This year I have really started to work on strength and conditioning and I’m seeing the benefits of it. Late last year I started working with Max Curle who has helped me build a lot of strength and power as well as to improve my flexibility.
I usually cycle alone but on Sundays I may ride with some friends and I run with Havering Tri based in Upminster who have some very good runners that challenges me and push me that extra bit further.
You are doing you’re A-Levels at the same time; how do you juggle training and studies?
I think for a student doing elite level triathlon it can sometimes be easy to focus so much on sport you forget about your studies or possibly the other way round. For me I find using Sunday night to plan my week ahead very effective, timetabling my training, when I will be working, and most importantly when I can sleep!
What is your plan after finishing school? Will you be concentrating solely on your sport?
As yet I have no definite plans. Im half Australian and so for a while I wanted to move to Australia with the rest of my family and study out there. I’m looking at doing Economics or something like that, but sport obviously interests me a lot so I haven’t completely ruled that out.
What would you recommend to other young people interested in getting into triathlon?
The first thing I would say is to join your local club. Youth triathlon clubs have grown hugely over the last few years. There will always be local races to take part in the summer and one of the best kids’ races to do is SuperTri at Eton. It is the perfect triathlon for a younger person and it is open water so they can get a feel for swimming outside of a pool in a safe environment.
What is the next race on the calendar?
Next on my race calendar is a World Triathlon Championships Qualifier at Eton Dorney where I will be attempting to qualify for Cozumel in September which is my A race for the year.
The main target in the next few weeks however is the week later where I will be flying out to Lisbon for the 2016 European Championships. The race is right in the middle of my AS exams so we will only be out there for a few days but it is one of my main targets this year so I will be hoping to finish with a good result. The course seems flat which will suit me so I’m looking forward to the event and can’t wait to get out there!
To follow Sam’s progress head to his website