Episode 125

Jodie and James Cunnama in conversation

This is proper sit down chat with Jodie and James Cunnama. 3 x World Triathlon Champion Jodie is her wonderful honest and wise self and is generous with her thoughts and feelings. The pair share why they feel like they failed when it comes to juggling family and professional triathlon, why money isn't important and why triathlon should enhance, not injure your life.

You'll hear

03:30 How Jodie and James are settling back into life in the UK including their ordeal of having to quarantine for 10 days with 3 kids under 4.

12:50 How they first met - this depends on who you spoke to. James says they met in drug testing after a race in Singapore "I was more interested in Craig Alexander being in drug testing with me than I was in meeting Jodie," says James. I prefer the version that we met on a training camp in Leysin, says Jodie.

14:30 Jodie says that being on a training camp in Switzerland was 'a spectacular life reversal for me at that time.' Annie Emerson said to me 'I think you should message Brett Sutton. She pushed me in the right direction and I messaged Brett the following week and he told me to come in four weeks to Leysin. That was the beginning of a new chapter to be honest.

18:40 Did Brett Sutton set them up?

19:30 A really good insight into how professional triathlon has changed. 'It was kind of a temporary thing before you got a real career, but now the earning potential from sponsorships is so different. When I first started it was like a hobby, then it became something that you can make a living from, but now there is more pressure and it's almost like a job now rather than an adventure. It's great to see that it is fully professional.

22:30 "For me, the chapters don't really evolve around money. There was never any real thought of becoming rich from the sport." says Jodie.

24:00 "As long as we have enough to live, we just don't care about money," says James. It doesnt really bother me. I got more satisfaction from a career in sport than I ever would have thought, says Jodie. I think with more money comes more pressure, but I think there is a different level of reward.

26:30 How Jodie feels like she missed a swansong race. "Yes definitely because I didn't retire after having Jack because I thought I was going to come back after racing. I played with it for a little bit, but then we decided to have another child after that. But then it wasn't viable after that because we had twins and James had a professional triathlon career," says Jodie. I don't miss being a pro, but I do miss racing, says James. "I almost feel like I didn't enjoy it enough when I was doing it."

34:00 'I definitely thought I was going to race again,' says Jodie. But something changed after I had Jack and I just wasn't the priority any more and neither was my triathlon career.' Every minute that I was out there training, I was taking time away from my family and then it becomes a constant negotiation with yourself. And then it really becomes work and a chore all of the time and you lose some of the love for it. How can you justify spending 10 days away from your wife with no guaranteed pay cheque at the end.

38:30 I found it really hard because I thought 'why can't we make it work' when you look at someone like nicola Spirig who we are really good friends with. But our priorities changed and we couldn't justify spending time away from the kids for the sake of performance or money which means high performance triathlon is not an option. And that was a hard pill to swallow.

41:00 Jodie gives some thoughts about finding balance with family and training for age group athletes. 'My whole philosophy is that sport should enhance your life and if it is causing injury to your life, then you shouldn't be doing it.' Sometimes you have to be honest with yourself and if you're in a couple, it has to be a couples act.

50:15 Why Jodie says he biggest failure has been an inability to relax. ' I think I was all a bit too serious. I was very hard on myself. I was like a workhorse in the swimming pool. I would be the one waking my parents up. I was just a bit over the top. I'm still not chilled but as a coach I endeavour to be chilled. I wish I had the skill to do meditation or something'

54:00 We talk about Steve Peters (Chimp Paradox) and the influence he has had on Jodie - he indirectly changed my life.

58:30 The key message Jodie would love to get across to young triathletes: 'Patience'.

1:01:30 Listener Question for James from Vesa - how hard was it to get on the plane and join the TBB team?

1:07:30 Listener Question for Jodie from Thomas - What is it like training alongside your rivals.

Find out more about this week's guests

Jodie Cunnama Instagram

James Cunnama Instagram

Cunnama coaching website

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About the Podcast

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Inside Tri Show
Helen Murray brings you awesome interviews from triathlon and beyond

About your host

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Helen Murray

Helen has been working in triathlon for a decade as an athlete, coach and broadcaster.

Helen hosts the Inside Tri Show podcast bringing you awesome interviews from triathlon and beyond