Tim Don doesn’t want dwell on his (frankly quite amazing) recovery from a near-fatal neck injury that ruled him out of Kona 2017. Oh no. He has bigger fish to fry than that. Much bigger. Like, winning-Kona-sized bigger…
Tim in Brazil, on his way to breaking the Ironman World Record by more than 4 minutes with a time of 7:40:23.
How about your swimming and your cycling now? Are you still swimming with a snorkel until you get that mobility back?
I’m swimming without the snorkel as well, I just can’t do the whole session without it. I’m up to 3,000m which you might think is great, but it’s not great when you consider that right now Jan [Frodeno] and Sebi [Kienle] are doing 6,000m sets no problem.
That was the other thing about Boston – it marked the end of the last 6 months. It’s not that I’m not focusing on recovery, I am, but I don’t want to see myself as a recovering athlete. Now it’s like ‘I’m back, I’m a professional, I need to do my rehab but I also need to compare myself to the guys that are breaking course records etc etc.’
I think swimming is going to be the toughest though. Matt Bottrill, my coach, is loving the biking though as it’s quite hard to lift my neck up, so I’m actually keeping myself more aerodynamic!
For the run, it’s about getting everything firing again as it’s not used to moving. The run’s especially important too, as that’s my weapon. So yeah, lots of work to do, but it’s different work to normal, so I’m quite excited in a perverse sort of way!
Has your attitude to cycling changed at all since the accident?
I was worried initially that I was going to ride 100m on the road and go ‘oh my god I can’t do this, the cars are too close, the noise…’, but I’m actually a very practical person and so no, I didn’t feel emotional. Also remember I’ve been a pro for a long time and it’s the first time I’ve been hit by a vehicle. I’ve fallen off, I’ve had pins, stitches, but it’s always been because of mechanicals – a blowout, failed equipment – but this was just a freak accident.
I do all my riding now with a rear light on, even in the day, just to say ‘I’m here!’, but apart from that no changes… Also I’m lucky as I train in Boulder and the hard shoulders are like 2 metres wide and cars are on the whole amazing at giving us a wide berth.
What advice would you give to any 220 readers who are injured or facing time out?
First up, don’t break your neck! But if you do, then don’t have a halo fitted!
D’you know what though? You need to remember there’s always something you can do. Maybe you can still move your legs, train differently in some way – unless it’s a terminal state you will come back from your injury and you will do a triathlon again, so what can you do in the meantime to help?
If need be take a physical or a mental break, take some time out, spend time with the family and don’t dwell on it. Don’t get me wrong though, it wasn’t all bells and whistles for me – there were dark times! I’m a real believer in being positive though, as who knows what’s just around the corner?
So what’s the goal for you, now you’re back training as a pro?
Well, the goal is to go to Kona! I’m going to hopefully do a 70.3 at the end of June, then in July do either Zurich or Hamburg Ironman – they’re on the same day – and then that should hopefully give me enough points to do to Kona. If I finish say 5th at Hamburg but I’m 22 minutes after the winner, then I don’t think I’ll go to Kona. If I go, I want to be where I believe I can be.
There are goals – so we know that by a certain date I need to be able to swim 3.8km without a snorkel, hold X power on a bike – so there will be training milestones. The first was to finish the marathon and the second was to do it under 3 hours, so we’re looking good, so far! It’s a long road.
You’ve had a lot of support from On – and now they’re producing a film about you?
A film, ha! No it’s a documentary! I haven’t seen the ending yet because they haven’t edited the parts from Boston yet, but I’ve seen the rest and it’s a bit peculiar as it’s not me playing a character, it’s just me… So it was a bit uncomfortable for me to watch! I hope people will watch it and think ‘he doesn’t give up’ and see that there’s always light at the end of the tunnel. I hope people take something positive from it.
The documentary ‘The Man With The Halo’ will be available to watch through www.on-running.com on 28th May. See the trailer here now.
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