Caroline Livesey Cyclist Bike Soldier Ironman Athlete Credit James Mitchell

Credit: James Mitchell

Forces Radio BFBS broadcaster, Hal Stewart caught up with Caroline Livesey for an in-depth chat about her entire career and how she went from the Royal Engineers to Ironman competition.

Caroline and her husband Mark both served in the British Army - Caroline with the Royal Engineers (2003-2013) and Mark with the Royal Army Physical Training Corps (1991-2012).

Now they dedicate their time to training themselves and their clients, who they offer nutritional advice, guidance and support to - often from a distance as they now reside on the sunny Spanish island of Mallorca.

Remaining relatively cool in the winter month, Mallorca offers a climate that is conducive to Ironman training - particularly when the UK turns bitterly cold and many are complaining of 'Beasts from the East'.

With 26 hours of training a week required to get into 'Ironman shape' it is no wonder the couple felt their best bet at becoming elite in this unforgiving and demanding sport was to take every advantage they could find, and geography has clearly played a part.

Caroline and David Livesey

Caroline thoroughly enjoyed her time in the Army with the Engineers, her training was something she then put to good use in her civilian role as an engineering design consultant:

"I've actually set-up a design consultancy on my own. I've been freelancing for the last 12 months while I've been focussing more on my professional career as an athlete."

Caroline Livesey

The transition from her military role to a civilian job was something Caroline found really interesting. Before going out on her own she worked in engineering for a company in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

"It's pretty tough as anyone who's left the military will know. Just getting to grips with business and the industry out there and it's just such a different environment."

She now helps those during their resettlement phase with advice on crucial items such as CV writing and understanding what transferable skills former service personnel actually have.

For free advice for anyone going through resettlement you can contact Caroline at her website:

Caroline Livesey in her Army days

So how does one go from being interested in physical fitness while in the Army to turning that passion into a full-fledged career?

Pro Ironman isn't for everyone but Caroline and her fitness fanatical husband Mark have discovered a true aptitude for the sport.

Mark hosts a very popular podcast on the subject called 'The Brick Session'. He offers tips on training and chats with other competitors. Caroline is also a key voice in the programme.

For those who have never attempted an Ironman event, it is essentially an extreme triathlon.

A series of long-distance races, it comprises a swim of 2.4 miles (3.86 km), followed by a bike ride of 112 miles (180.25 km) before finishing with a marathon distance run of 26.22 miles (42.20 km).

It must be completed in that arduous order without any break and is widely considered one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world.

Ironman UK in 2015 when Caroline placed 2nd

Caroline found that Triathlon came naturally to her while she was still serving.

"Actually the Army gave me first taste of triathlon, I did it when I was at Sandhurst.

"It's quite an expensive sport to take up, you need a bike and a wetsuit and all these things, so I borrowed the kit from Sandhurst and did my first triathlon while I was there and then I did it throughout my time in the Army and I got really committed to it in the later part of my career in the Army and met some great people through the sport and that was fantastic."

Training continued after her military career finished, and Caroline got to the stage where triathlon wasn't enough, it needed to be Ironman triathlon.

Performing so well it was a natural decision to turn pro and race against other professional Ironman competitors. This gave Caroline the opportunity to earn from her favourite sport and sponsorship soon followed supported by online coaching platform Xhale, Orbea bikes, Orca wetsuits and Parcours wheels.

Caroline running
Credit: James Mitchell

It hasn't all been plain sailing. Caroline was assaulted while training in the UK and she has also struggled to recover from a serious pelvic injury.

Unable to race in 2018, she is now undergoing a series of strenuous rehabilitation. Thankfully she is on the mend and looking forward to her next competition.

Her positive attitude dealing with a debilitating injury will hopefully enable others to do the same:

"Being injured doesn't mean that I can't enjoy life.

"So I just focus on what I have got going on and the positive things in my life and also everyday look to improve on how I'm rehabbing and the things that I'm doing to get myself well and to make sure that in the future I'm stronger and more able when I come back to full-time racing." 

Next up for Caroline will be a December Ironman event in Argentina. You can keep up with Caroline's progress on Twitter @tri_c_livesey

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