Episode 57 - How Triathlon Changed My Life with Sue Swindon

How Triathlon Changed My Life with Sue Swindon

I believe in the power of nutrition. It really is the fourth leg! 

Putting on my Advanced Sports Dietitian's hat, I love to take the science and translate that into information and practical advice that triathletes can understand and trust - knowing it will help them to unlock their true potential - to train harder, recover faster and perform at their BEST.

As triathlete and Triathlon Nutrition Academy foundation member, Sue Swindon, said so eloquently, "Taryn you provide the "NO BS" approach to nutrition".

And it's true - I'm not about quick fixes and diets. What we provide within the Triathlon Nutrition Academy is not just a quick fix, eight week challenge. We cut through the noise and give you that real understanding - something you can take with you FOREVER!




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Episode Transcription

Episode 57: How Triathlon Changed My Life with Sue Swindon


Taryn Richardson  00:00

Welcome to the Triathlon Nutrition Academy podcast. The show designed to serve you up evidence based sports nutrition advice from the experts. Hi, I'm your host Taryn, Accredited Practicing Dietitian, Advanced Sports Dietitian and founder of Dietitian Approved. Listen as I break down the latest evidence to give you practical, easy to digest strategies to train hard, recover faster and perform at your best. You have so much potential, and I want to help you unlock that with the power of nutrition. Let's get into it.

Taryn Richardson  00:44

Welcome to the podcast, Sue!

Sue Swindon  00:46

Thank you. It's wonderful to be with you.

Taryn Richardson  00:49

Thank you so much for joining me. You've been in my realms for quite a while now. You were a client of mine, one on one and then you decided to jump in the deep end and join the Triathlon Nutrition Academy program when I very, very first opened doors in September 2021. So I wanted to share your story because you have a beautiful story. And I love everything about you and what are you trying to achieve in life. So I thought I would share that with listeners. So thanks for joining me and having a chat.

Sue Swindon  01:17

Oh, thank you for having me.

Taryn Richardson  01:18

Can you take me back to why you started triathlon in the first place?

Sue Swindon  01:22

Yes. So I've been dabbling in triathlon for a couple of years now and it's probably best to say I fell into it. I was involved in a cancer fundraiser. Having had cancer myself and done a little bit of fundraising, I was looking for another opportunity to to link sport with a really good cause, I guess. And I did a Pink triathlon on the Sunshine Coast. Didn't own a bike. Hubby got me a bike from Cash Converters. So heavy - it took two of us to lift it up. And we tripped off to the Sunshine Coast, stayed in a motel and just felt like the bee's knees and loved everything about it. I think there were about 500 of us trying to swim 200 meters in a pool at once. And you know, we cycled a really short distance, ran 2Ks and I still have that medal. Yes, I fell into it and then fell in love with it and joined the local triathlon club in Redcliffe and started doing the wonderful and beautiful Bribie Island triathlons. And yeah, you know, as the story goes with triathlon, you stretch yourself a little as time goes on. And so yeah, I ended up dabbling in all sorts of distances, and continue to love it. So really fell into it in my mid 40s. And, you know, early ish 50s now, and it still brings me heaps of joy.

Taryn Richardson  02:43

It is a very addictive sport, for sure, and very easy to fall in love with. What I love about you is that you've continued that passion, even though you've moved to Tamworth, and it's frickin freezing there.

Sue Swindon  02:54

Yeah, it's frickin freezing today. I've had friends say to me, oh, did you not consider joining like a quilting group or something? A lot of people don't understand what's to love about it. And I think if you just loved it for the sake of doing it in an event, I think that joy would dim really quickly. But I just love kind of everything about it. I love setting a goal. I love the discipline and the routines of training. I love the people I've met. You know, it's a bit of a cliche to say it's a lifestyle, but I think it really is and it continues to bring me joy. I'm, you know, a back of the pack athlete but full of joy.

Taryn Richardson  03:33

So after working with me one on one with your nutrition, what made you decide to join the Triathlon Nutrition Academy program?

Sue Swindon  03:42

Look, I guess when you do a sport that involves three disciplines, I'd always realised nutrition was important in some kind of way. Obviously, you can't ask your body to do this and not feed it. And then a step further, you know, linking with a sports dietitian. And so we had those amazing one on one phone consultations sort of between April and June last year, and I was busy getting ready for, you know, the infamous Port Macquarie Ironman 70.3 which had been canceled a few times, rescheduled, canceled again. And so yeah, at the sort of conclusion of our one on one sessions, the race was moved again and I suppose I took the foot off the pedal a bit and didn't have a lot of opportunity then to put some of that learning into practice.

Sue Swindon  04:26

And then I guess I started to see that you were advertising this Triathlon Nutrition Academy and I thought what a great opportunity to reconnect again, to revisit you know, some of those things I've been learning - in a different format. I just thought how creative and innovative - this thing that you're doing. And most importantly, I'd just been thinking about how like impactful just those few one on one sessions with you. I had absolutely no hesitation joining the Academy. I think you're the ultimate professional and I really was drawn to, like, the passion that you have to advocate for your profession. And, you know, the no BS approach to nutrition, it's just, you know, uncomplicated. And I think, probably like, the most powerful thing was another P - your philosophy. I think, you know, it is a cliche - the power of nutrition, but when you think about it, it's really what you believe. And it really is backed by science - that there's an incredible power in this thing called nutrition. And I thought, well, whatever this Triathlon Nutrition Academy looks like, it's going to be good. It's going to be a privilege to learn from you. So...

Taryn Richardson  05:33

Oh, gosh. Thank you so much, Sue. I don't know if I can continue this interview after that.

Sue Swindon  05:38

Let's just call you the Queen and finish now.

Taryn Richardson  05:43

What really stands out to me with you, though, is that - I hope you don't mind me saying this, but budget is so tight for you. And out of all the things that you could invest in with triathlon, there's a lot, right? It's a very expensive sport. You chose to invest in that really early in your journey because you knew how important it was for you to get to the finish line in one piece, but have a good time and not break yourself in the process.

Sue Swindon  06:07

I think, if I think about where I started, I would probably say, I'd always known about the importance of nutrition, and that I had done nutrition. And even before I did an Ironman couple years ago, I connected with a dietitian very briefly, and I had a plan. And when I look back, I feel like I did nutrition, and I did the plan. And I probably wouldn't have even thought that I was struggling with nutrition. If sessions were tough, I was like, oh, well, it was meant to be a tough session. You know, maybe I'm just, you know, not quite fit enough. Or if a race was hard, I was like, well, I expected it to be hard. Isn't that what we like about triathlon? We like the fact that it's tough. We're pushing ourselves to the edge. 

Sue Swindon  06:48

And I think the other thing, what you said earlier is that it's a very equipment, heavy sport. It's easy to think if I get the latest pair of running shoes, or run like a Kenyan, or if I get a shiny, red bicycle - people say red bicycles are fast, then I'll be a gun cyclist. So I probably wouldn't have thought I was struggling with nutrition. But I think a huge transformation for me - it is about prioritising nutrition, as we've mentioned, but also not just doing nutrition, but understanding nutrition. It's quite a revelation, really. Because you can have a plan and you can do it. You can have a plan and follow an instruction. But I think, yeah, the transformation slowly happening is that, oh, I think I'm not just doing nutrition, I'm starting to understand it. And look, it's baby steps. I mean, some of the information is a bit too nerdy for me and I have to read it a couple of times. But just that real sense of starting to understand nutrition and not just doing it. And then I guess understanding it for me. Like, I am a female, in my 50s, only been doing triathlon a couple of years. So what is nutrition sound like and feel like for me? So I think that's moving from doing to understanding - I would say is like, you know, a complete highlight for me.

Taryn Richardson  08:08

You mentioned so many interesting things there, Sue. I'd love that, you know, taking the knowledge that you had from one on one - like, the plan that I gave you. It's not until you understood more deeper about why we do the things that we do inside the Academy that things started to really click for you and that you understand things so much deeper so that you can then translate that into whatever you do forevermore.

Sue Swindon  08:30

Yeah, that's definitely been a shift. And I think, yes, it's the Triathlon Nutrition Academy. But there's a real understanding of nutrition for life. I think there's a lot of skills that you learn through the Academy that are about eating, not just for sport. Because we learn how to eat on days when we're not training, and we learn, you know, how to build a plate, and we learn about the importance of all food groups, and carbohydrates are not the devil. And it's just that it had a big impact on, I mean, I always was a little bit healthy. But I think yeah, just building understanding-it feels like gold, really. And, you know, it's impacting how I shop and cook and prepare. You know, I've even got hubby who will occasionally say, oh, we're eating the rainbow tonight. You know, we're eating the rainbow. And it's like, wow. So I know, it's not only women that cook in homes now. But whoever does the cooking, you're really well placed to be a great role model in the home. I mean, our children have long left home, but I like the fact that I'm eating for life, not just eating for sport.

Taryn Richardson  09:37

Yeah, I'm not about quick fixes and diets, as you know. I want to set you up for forever. There's too many fads out there and too much rubbish. So it's just trying to cut through all that noise but also give you the understanding so that you can take that with you forever. It's not just a quick fix, eight week challenge or anything like that. It's something that you can take with you forevermore.

Sue Swindon  09:56

When I stand back and look at the program, I think it's really about empowerment. And I think back, I had a social work lecturer years ago, and she said, one of her lectures when I was back at uni way back then, she said, your job as a social worker is to work yourself out of a job. And I'm not for one minute suggesting you'll ever be without work. But you know that idea - give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, he'll eat for life. I feel like that's what you're doing - you're creating this community of people who, yeah, you're not just telling them to go and fish, you're teaching them how to fish. And I think the other layer that is really strong in this program is that you give us so many tools. It's like, here's a rod and here's a reel. And yeah, you're giving us all these tools. And I think there's a real professional generosity in that. Like, I know, there's a fee attached to the Academy, but still, it's about your professional generosity. I feel like you're giving us some really special information, teaching us how to use it. But it's about us, you know, being able to be empowered - to be able to think through nutrition, and plan nutrition, and do nutrition. I think that's amazing. I'm not sure everybody would do it.

Taryn Richardson  11:02

What do you think has been the biggest change for you over the last 12 months being inside the program?

Sue Swindon  11:07

I've said it before, but just probably in a different way - just prioritising nutrition and thinking about food and nutrition. And I guess from that thinking, comes behaviours. And it's come back to how I prepare food, how I plan food. And the one thing you've taught us is that food's not going to look the same every day, because we're not doing the same training every day. And sometimes we're not training. Like, hubby's just had three months long service leave. We've been camping, hiking, kayaking, trapsing around the country. Like, simple activities, and I'm obviously doing some maintenance training. And I have another goal later in the year. But it was actually I thought, I'm taking some of those skills that I've learned in the context of triathlon. But I'm like, "What does good eating look like when you're not training", when you're on holiday, when you're...  . I'm not obsessing about food. And I think when you learn skills, you don't need to obsess because you're not afraid of stuff. You're just doing stuff that's good and right. So I think, yes - I've got really entrenched food behaviors now in terms of shopping, planning, food prep. And I'm really loving that.

Taryn Richardson  12:11

Well done! Some of those extra skills that we teach you along the way, that we probably don't talk about very much - like the meal planning and the menu planning skills, how to actually shop effectively once a week, with instead of having to run back and forth to the shops multiple times to get the little things that you've missed. But it's all those practical things that help take that stress and effort out of actually eating well, because it can be quite overwhelming for people. There's a lot to know and learn and do when it comes to triathlon nutrition. But it's trying to just simplify that down into really practical ways that you can actually implement it. And like you said, you've actually made it a habit now, which is excellent.

Sue Swindon  12:47

When you live regionally, too. When I think back when I was ramping up the training for Port, just to find roads that I feel comfortable on. Sometimes hubby and I would drive 40 minutes to start a ride. And so then you got to think, well, okay, by the time you've packed up and peeled off your layers of cycling gear, and you've driven. Like, it's going to be long after that really crucial recovery eating window when you're home. And so we just pack a little esky, and it never felt like, oh, I'm obsessing. It just felt like I'm...

Taryn Richardson  12:48


Sue Swindon  13:07

Yeah, if it really is about unlocking your potential, like, who wouldn't want to do that? Look, I'm a back third of the pack athlete, as I've said.

Taryn Richardson  13:27

It doesn't matter.

Sue Swindon  13:28

And unlocking potential isn't going to put me on a podium. I'm not expecting that from my nutrition. But it's pretty exciting to think that you could be in the best place, you know, just in your day to day eating, you know, in the best place to be able to train and in the best possible place before an event. I always say I'm a completitor - I'm not a competitor. I like to complete the goals that I've set. And if nutrition can put me in a place to continue to do that, because that's where my joy comes from, who wouldn't want to learn more about nutrition?

Taryn Richardson  13:28

Amazing. You're at a pivotal time of your life too where nutrition is quite important for long term health. So it's good that you're taking the time and investing in that for yourself.

Sue Swindon  14:10

I think it's important to also realise, like downstream the impact of doing, like endurance sport for many years. And I think, oh, I'd like to have an awareness of that - that I'm not just looking after myself for now. But I'm looking after myself for then. And that's pretty important to me, too.

Taryn Richardson  14:30

Absolutely. What do you think has been the most valuable part of the program for you?

Sue Swindon  14:36

I suppose the one thing I haven't mentioned is that you're also creating a community. You know, it's in it's infancy. I think your name is going to be up in lights for a long time around this Nutrition Academy because it's really creative and innovative. You're impacting individuals, but you've created this community and I really appreciated, like, I probably haven't dipped into it - life gets the better of you at times. But you're creating a community of people around this Academy. And there's, you know, people share photos and meal ideas and ask questions.

Taryn Richardson  15:10

What's the best shorts for running in?!

Sue Swindon  15:12

Especially when you living in a region, it's been nice to dip into that community, too

Taryn Richardson  15:17

It's instant training buddies and instant triathlon buddies, too if you are a bit isolated out in a regional area and don't have a lot of people around or those connections with other triathletes - just to field questions, ask dumb questions, fast track all of that research that you might have to do.

Sue Swindon  15:33

Yeah, it's great, what you are creating and have created.

Taryn Richardson  15:36

Thank you. Is there anything that you weren't expecting, though,

Sue Swindon  15:40

I think I wasn't expecting to be so excited about nutrition. And I thought to myself, oh, I wish I had met you 25 years ago because I think I would have been very motivated to consider a career in nutrition. So this feeling of, like, excitement around food. I was expecting to learn stuff but I think the fact that it's changed a lot of what I do and how I do it, and that it feels exciting, and it feels like it's in my control. And I'm not always going to be able to get the latest running shoe or the red, shiny bike, but this is achievable. So I think that's sort of real, and it's quite lasting now, excitement about food and nutrition - not just for triathlon, but for life.

Taryn Richardson  16:22

Yeah, I love that. Thank you. So do you have any advice for someone that's sitting on the fence, has been watching along on the sidelines for a while, and is not sure if the Triathlon Nutrition Academy program is right for them?

Sue Swindon  16:36

Well, I first thought two words - do it. But then I think it's more like six words - do it, you won't regret it. Just back to some of the tools that were given. You know, I've got this great folder now - I've printed out all the notes from the masterclass and we've got worksheets, and there's so much more in it than I had expected, anticipated. Yeah, you will not regret joining the Triathlon Nutrition Academy, is all I can say.

Taryn Richardson  17:03

What sort of hesitations did you have in the beginning or did you have none?

Sue Swindon  17:06

None. I think because, you know, I'd had those one on one sessions with you just kind of in close proximity to that Academy being advertised. And I was like, this is a no brainer. Any chance to connect with you in a different way or in any way, but a new kind of way. And also just to be part of something new felt quite exciting, too. Like, I've not heard of something like this, and was very excited about giving it a go.

Taryn Richardson  17:32

It's the only Triathlon Nutrition Program in the world at this point. I'm sure that there will be copycats, eventually. But we're the first at this point.

Sue Swindon  17:40

And again, just back to that professional generosity, I like to call it - I think, wow, you've shared so much with us that I would imagine some professionals might want to just keep to themselves. But you've just taken us deeper into this cave, more than just giving us like a plan and saying - do this nutrition. This is like, this is the why, and this is the how. And I think that's really the essence of your program.

Taryn Richardson  18:07

Thank you, Sue. I'm all about trying to empower you to have the knowledge and the skills to do this forever. And the Academy program for me is my way to do that with more people. I'm very tapped out with one on ones. I can't do any more. And we'll probably reduce that further and further over time. But yes, this is my way for more people to experience the things that you've experienced - from all over the world. It's really exciting.

Sue Swindon  18:34

Yeah. And I guess, you know, if you have that model down the track where you've got most people doing the Academy and then the one on one sessions are just to fill in some gaps or tighten up some things, I mean, your reach will be incredible.

Taryn Richardson  18:49

That's the plan - world domination. One triathlete at a time.

Sue Swindon  18:53


Taryn Richardson  18:54

Well, thank you so much for sharing your insights and your journey with me, Sue. I knew that you had a beautiful story to share. And I really, like, from the bottom of my heart, want to thank you for jumping in, in the deep end with me because I know how tight budget is - but you saw something in the program and chose to invest your life savings in it and have never looked back.

Sue Swindon  19:18

Yeah, well, just thank you to you, Taryn. It's been an amazing experience. Looking forward to continuing it. And yeah, I really hope that lots and lots of others get to experience and feel what I now feel about nutrition in the context of triathlon.

Taryn Richardson  19:31

All right.Thanks for joining me, Sue. I'll talk to you soon.


Taryn Richardson  19:36

Thanks for joining me for this episode of the Triathlon Nutrition Academy podcast. I would love to hear from you. If you have any questions or want to share with me what you've learned, email me at [email protected]. You can also spread the word by leaving me a review and taking a screenshot of you listening to the show. Don't forget to tag me on social media, @dietitian.approved, so I can give you a shout out, too. If you want to learn more about what we do, head to dietitianapproved.com. And if you want to learn more about the Triathlon Nutrition Academy program, head to www.dietitianapproved.com/academy. Thanks for joining me and I look forward to helping you smashed in the fourth leg - nutrition! 

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