The life of a triathlete is not for the faint-hearted.
Three disciplines to constantly hone and perfect, all working towards gruelling competitions. There is plenty for a triathlete to think about on a daily basis to make sure they are at their best.
Not least which foods to eat, and when, in order to maximise performance and recovery. When Grant Sheldon made the decision to go vegan four years ago, that task might have been daunting. But working closely with the sportscotland institute of sport, it was an easy transition for Grant to make, and he hasn't looked back since.
He said: “I’ve been institute supported for eight or nine years, it’s been a massive help. I’m seeing institute staff regularly just now for nutrition, physio, medical and strength and conditioning. It’s hugely helpful, particularly in the year I’ve just had which has been so stop start with injuries, it’s invaluable support. It’s something that every athlete needs. The support is world class.
“The help on the nutrition side has been really big for me. About four years ago I decided to go vegan, the performance nutrition team looked through what I was eating and made sure that I was getting everything I needed.
“It was something I could show people who might’ve been sceptical that it was the best way to go, it showed I had done the work and my diet was good for performance. Since then there’s been a lot of refining. They help with some challenges; we can race all over the world and with that comes different food challenges.
“Knowing where I can eat and what to look for is so important, we decided that I’d start travelling with a rice cooker so I could have a bit more control and start cooking for myself to take some of the pressure away.”
Lindsay Macnaughton, who works closely with Grant in her role as sportscotland performance nutritionist, added: “When Grant decided to change to a vegan diet it was important that we worked with him to make sure he was getting all the nutrients he needed.
“We worked with Grant to increase the variety of foods he was eating and to help him include sources of key nutrients to support his training, recovery and immunity.
“Grant has taken the advice on board and we have worked closely together to make sure his diet provides what he needs as an elite athlete.
"This allows Grant to meet the demands of training, recover effectively and for the most part remain illness free.”
Grant made his second Commonwealth Games appearance at the 2018 Gold Coast Games where he finished 17th in the individual event and seventh in the Mixed Team Relay. He also represented Team Scotland at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, finishing 14th in the individual event and seventh in the Mixed Team Relay.
The 25-year-old’s season came to an unexpected halt after a freak treadmill accident left him nursing a broken wrist in early October. It was the latest in a line of unfortunate injuries which has left Sheldon frustrated throughout 2019.
In August, Grant secured a third-placed finish at the Karlovy Vary ITU Triathlon World Cup in the Czech Republic, he followed that with another third place at the Weihai World Triathlon Cup in China in September, showing the Stirling-based athlete was finding form and fitness before his latest injury.
But with time on his side before the new season starts, and selections still to be made for the Team GB triathlon team at Tokyo 2020, Sheldon is in positive mood that he can give himself a chance of his first Olympic appearance.
He said: “It’s been a very up and down year. Lots of little unfortunate injuries. In January I fell off my bike and cracked my ribs, then in my first race back I stood on something and sliced my foot open, I had to get stiches on the sole of my foot after that.
“After that I was just trying to get fit after losing a bit of time. I was building back up towards the end of the season and had a good couple of races, then I broke my wrist which has cut the season short.
“Tokyo is still a possibility. In the men’s triathlon no one has really staked a claim for selection yet, so everything is still up for grabs. The door has definitely not been shut, it’s obviously going to be hard, it’s going to rely on me racing really well in February and March to get into the races in April and May. The automatic qualifying races have gone, and nobody made it so it’s just about staking a claim for selection the best I can.”