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Tue 16th Aug 2022
Simone Dailey: fast, fit & hungry
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Friday 31st October 2014

Tags  Julian Nagi  |  Kona 2014  |  Simone Dailey  |  Team Nagi

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Great Britain's fastest female Age Group athlete at Kona 2014

26 year old Simone Dailey ( only started triathlon in 2012 - by entering Ironman UK despite having not swam or biked before. Those minor details didn't prove too much of a problem however - she won her Age Group at the first attempt.

Simone has just returned from the Ironman World Championship's in Kona where she was the fastest British female Age Group athlete, taking second place in the 25-29 category to claim a coveted Umeke - her second, as she also went to Hawaii and took fifth place in the 18-24 Age Group two years ago - that same year that she started triathlon from scratch.

Having cut almost an hour from her time in those two years, Simone Dailey is making very swift progress in her short Ironman career so far, with no signs of slowing down yet.

I spent some time with Simone at Profeet in London on Wednesday night where she was helping DBA Sports with their pop-up event. Dream, Believe, Achieve is their mantra - and one which the Strength & Conditioning coach and fitness model is living proof of.

Before we get on to talk Kona, can you tell us how you actually got into triathlon initially, because looking back into your results history suggests you only got into the sport quite recently?

I started triathlon at the beginning of 2012. I had never swam before or never biked before. I found my coach (Julian Nagi, in January of that year - but had already signed up for Ironman UK, Bolton in 2012 before doing that. I was going swimming on my own, and I just thought 'this isn't going to work', and so Julian has coached me really from day one. I was fortunate that I didn't get any injuries that first year, I was very consistent and I just seemed to pick it up quite quickly.

Simone Dailey

How did you go from not swimming and not cycling to signing up for an Ironman in the first instance? That's pretty unusual in itself.

I used to compete in CrossFit, and I was probably about two stone heavier than I am now, I was quite muscular. As a strength and conditioning coach I was always big in to the weights, going to the gym... probably more from a vanity point of view than anything else really. I went home and my dad - who typically doesn't really say anything at all - just looked at me and said "you've gone down to London, you got big, you look horrible....", he really wasn't a fan of that look!

So, I thought what else can I sign up for that is just as challenging, but also with the same sort of intensity as CrossFit. One of the guys I worked with mentioned his sister who had gone to Kona, talked about Ironman and I thought I recognise that from somewhere. I then remembered that I'd seen a programme that featured Rick and Dicky Hoyt - and I thought at the time, "that is insane!".

A couple of weeks later I'd used up all of my money and signed up for Ironman UK... At first I thought "I've got to do this, I can't get my money back", so that was a big motivation!

So that first year, you went to Ironman UK - and won your Age Group. You then went to Kona and got a top five, which meant you won your first Umeke award. That's a pretty rapid rise from nothing to success right off the bat?

It was, it was massive, and the great thing about the first year is that I was so ignorant about the sport - I was oblivious to everything, I didn't know anything. All I knew was that I had a programme, I stuck to it exactly, never had a day off from what Julian told me to do, and then I found myself in Hawaii. To be honest that first year I was actually very scared as I found it very overwhelming, being around all of those people.

Simone Dailey

It's almost like a 'freak show', in that you can go to Kona as maybe the fittest person in your town and then you arrive in Hawaii and probably feel incredibly inferior?

Absolutely - I'd been around people of all shapes and all sizes, working in big gyms in central London which had all types there from MMA fighters to dancers... but that was just something else. Everybody in Kona just looked absolutely ripped. It was crazy! It was a great experience though.

It's only really this year that I've really started to understand the sport, and to take a real interest and time to learn about it properly. At first, I just thought of it as "training", and nothing else. Ironman also gave me a real structure and a path to follow in my life, and it was great for me when I moved down to London. I came from a boarding school where I'd been for 10 years, and then when I moved to the south I didn't have that many friends here, and so doing the sport put back the structure - I realised I didn't want to be going out all the time, it wasn't a direction I wanted to be on. It wasn't for me, and in Ironman you can't 'cheat' the training and so it gave me a really good path to go down. Julian has really inspired me in that sense in training and competition, but also to then go down the coaching route myself.

So what about 2013? You made that fantastic start from nothing (in triathlon terms) to Kona Age Group podium in year one - at that point was it 'box ticked, move on', or did you have plans to continue progressing in your second year? What were your plans at that point?

I never expected to do what I did that first year - but I then made the biggest mistake. I got too hyped up, thinking "I want to come back, be fitter, be stronger" - and completely overtrained. I got a stress fracture in my left hip and only did one race last year (70.3 Wiesbaden). That year taught me more about myself and more about how I had to look at the training, the structure of it and not get carried away with it. It made me realise I've got to be smart with the training, that it's not about just going hard, it's much more technical. I missed pretty much the whole year because of it, but it made me a much smarter athlete.

Simone Dailey ©Richard Melik/

So this year you did Ironman Los Cabos in March, finished top ten overall and first Age Group athlete and qualified for Hawaii. Was returning to Kona this year always the goal, and is that what lead you to Los Cabos?

The plan for Los Cabos was to be first Age Grouper and qualify for Hawaii. After that, we changed the training to focus on half distance racing to try and get me faster. 70.3 Zell am See, Austria was the main goal in the middle of the year to qualify for the World 70.3 Champs in 2015 (Simone was second in AG25-29 and did qualify). I did the New Forest Middle as a training race and the Maldon Triathlon, but the main aims were really qualify for Kona 2014 and the 70.3 World's 2015.

Kona this year went well - what were your aims before the race?

With Kona being a non-wetsuit sea swim, it was always going to be variable depending on conditions what the swim would be like, but the aim was always going to be close to one hour. Bike wise, the aim was five hours as I'm quite a strong rider. The winds don't bother me too much - the worse it is, the better for me - and I was aiming for about a 3:20 run. Having missed so much running in 2013 because of my hip stress fracture, I didn't know how that would go - but before the race I was actually in the best run shape I've ever been in. I'd knocked five minutes off of my 10km PB in 2014, and felt really strong going in to it.

The bike was going great in the race, and then partially my fault perhaps, a guy pulled in front of me. I couldn't come off my handlebars quick enough and I went in to the back of him and crashed. I got going again, but that had caused a mechanical which meant that I had to ride the rest of the race in the small chain ring. I also lost a couple of my nutrition bottles in the crash, and then that caused me to panic a bit, think "I've blown it", and after that I cant remember eating at all on the bike.

Simone Dailey ©Richard Melik/

When I got on the run, my legs didn't feel heavy - they just felt tired because I'd had to 'spin' them because of the mechanical problem. My run didn't go to plan - I was hoping for 3:20, but I ended up at 3:36. It was on the run that the other girl caught me. She was amazing, she ran a 3:14 - the better girl definitely won on the day, she definitely deserved it!

Simone Dailey - Ironman Record

Ironman UK 2012
18-24 - 1st
Ironman World Champs 2012
18-24 - 5th
Ironman Los Cabos 2014
25-29 - 1st
Ironman World Champs 2014
25-29 - 2nd

Going back to Kona again, how was the overall Hawaii experience - and not just in terms of the race - versus that debut in 2012? Was it very different second time around?

It was, for two reasons. Firstly my coach came out with me this time, which kept me really relaxed. I felt like I didn't need to think about what training to do (or not do) for example, I left all of the worrying and thinking to him and just did what I needed to and stayed focussed on that. The second reason is that I felt a lot more confident in my capability and what I could do. I wasn't nervous, I wasn't comparing myself to anyone else out there. It was just my race, I was confident in the training I had done and so I just believed in that. I didn't think about who else was racing - I never even look! I didn't even go the race briefing, I got someone else to go for me, as I quite like just staying focussed inside my own little bubble. Familiarity with the surroundings really helps... especially the wraps in Lava Java and the sweet potato fries, wow!!

With my coach there, it sort of felt like I was being looked after and it was a really nice experience. I still feel like I've got a lot more in me for the future too.

Ok, so you've got two of the Umeke 'fruit bowls' now, a small one from 5th place in 2012 and a bigger one from 2nd this year... is trying to win your Age Group a big driver for you?

Absolutely. My biking is going from strength to strength, and I think everyone is surprised that I've been able to go from not being able to swim to swimming around one hour for an Ironman distance consistently. At the moment and all the way up to Hawaii the most training I ever do is 15 hours a week. I work really long hours, I'm typically in the gym with clients from 6am and don't leave until 9pm and always active lifting weights and carrying stuff, so I just can't fit any more in to my days.

Simone Dailey ©Richard Melik/

I think the next step for me to improve given the progress I've made with only two years of consistent training is to try and reign in the work a bit. I'm going to move over to Chiswick and be nearer to my coach and to where I train, and hopefully be able to fit in some more hours. I'm 26 now and I think you get times in life where you think "shall I go for it or not?", and until I stop enjoying it, I want to keep going to see how far I can take it.

Simone Dailey ©Richard Melik/ would be absolutely amazing to one day be setting course records on the bike and I think I've definitely got it in me to do that - I don't know how well I'll run off the back of it though! I hope I can get my run times down too, keep the training consistent and keep progressing. I'm excited to see where the next few years might go and confident there is more to come.

In some ways coming second this time around means I've got the hunger and the fire to see if I can go one better next year!

So 2015, what's the plan in terms of Kona qualifying?

I'm going to race Ironman South Africa in March, and then I've got the Ironman 70.3 World's in Austria, which now I know the course having raced there once I'm also looking forward to.


#GBKONA 2014 Coverage

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