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Posted 18th November 2014

“I am free to do what my body can do”

With “The Speed of Sound” two Hollywood directors create a short film that plays on the eternal fight between monster and hero. World Champion Lesley Paterson takes the part of the hero. How does she get ready to break her barriers? We met Lesley to find out:

In the short film The Speed of Sound you are performing the hero. How do you prepare for a fight between human and machine?
As a professional triathlete, I know how to push to the limits both mentally and physically - I do it day in, day out - so knowing how to fight and how to never give up, is something I'm very good at...better than any machine, that's for sure!

In our daily lives, machines are constantly present. How do you detach yourself?
I detach myself from gadgets and machines by getting out in nature. I'm an off-road athlete at heart and grew up in the rugged highlands of Scotland. I feel at one with myself when I'm out in the wet, mossy beauty of where I grew up – it has shaped who I am and will always be my calling in life!

In the video, you beat the speed of sound and find your flow. What are your boundaries and how do you overcome them?
My boundaries in life all revolve around fear. Fear that I'll give up before I reach my limits, fear that I will fail myself and fear that I won't meet others expectations. To overcome this, I focus on the pure joy of my body dancing through the landscapes. The poetry of how it feels to swim, bike and run and the magic of getting everything right in a performance...to the point where I reach a higher sense of self.

Currently you are probably going through the toughest phase an athlete can be faced with. A few years ago, you were diagnosed with Lyme’s disease.
Oh yes, it’s absolutely terrible! It’s been a tough year for me. I came down with a bad flare up this summer and have been struggling since. What I do, I do with a lot of passion. It’s very depressing, if you feel weak and totally powered out all the time. It’s one of the hardest things I ever experienced. Currently, I am being treated by a specialist. I try to stay positive. These things happen. You have to power through it and become stronger.

Back to sports: how do you mentally manage to commit to start?
I work with my husband, Simon, who is a Sports Psychologist and I actually create an alter ego for myself, like Beyoncé…. Her Alter Ego is called Sasha Fierce, and basically mine is called Patty. Patty is strong and fearless, focused, very driven… all of the attributes and traits that I wish to have in a race. If Lesley turns up, she tends to be under a lot of pressure. That is huge for me. That is why quite often in transition, I get my earplugs in and put in a lot of music and focus. I’m not always the nicest of people. I also write slogans on my arm. In 2012 when I won the second World title, I had to find a way to cope with the pressure. On one arm I wrote, “Be Brave” and on the other “I Had Me”, meaning I am free to do what my body can do. By letting go of the negative forces, you can free yourself to let it do what it does best. 

Tell us about your involvement in athletics as a child, tell us what sports you played and what started it off for you in the world of athletics?
I’ve been sporty since I came out of the womb pretty much. I remember when I was about 4 years old and watching the TV with the famous Olympic distance runners from Africa and so compete, I used to practice what I saw there in the park with bare feet.  It was pretty amusing.  When I was 7, I went to watch my brother play rugby, I then started shaking my Dad’s hand saying I wanted to have a go of it and he said “ well Les there’s no girls out there playing, just boys” and I didn’t care.  I said it looked fun and you get really muddy and dirty…. This then parlayed me being a rugby player for about 5 years.  I was the only female rugby player in Scotland. That set the standard for how I liked to live my life….which is if there is a challenge and someone tells me I cannot do it then I go out and give it a shot. 

Do you find with XTERRA a connection to the outdoor and the outside?
It’s a very primal thing being out in the land and running in the woods and biking and swimming in mountain lakes. I was running over the nells of Scotland with my Dad growing up and it was such a beautiful countryside, it was such a place of serenity and power and joy for me. When I saw XTERRA, I saw it more about tackling the obstacles of nature rather then the other competitors. It just runs true to my heart that I got butterflies in my heart when I first heard about it. 

What’s the biggest take away you have from a bad race?  How do you stay positive?
I generally like to walk into my races with more then one goal, not just a time or placing. You have no control over who shows up etc. The other goals I come up with are prospect goals which are things like: “Can I overcome a hurdle or can I keep the negative thoughts from coming out of my mind? Am I able to overcome adversity?” I set up those kind of goals, so that I come out of every race with a positive attitude.

Can you talk a little about the equipment?  How much are you relying on it as an extension of yourself?
It’s huge right, it's seconds for me between winning and not. You don’t want to have to think about it, you want to put on the shoe and you don’t want to be conscious of it. With the On shoes I totally have that. It honestly makes it more enjoyable because when you have a good race and you are in the zone, everything becomes a part of you. 

>>> Watch Lesley Paterson and the Cloudracer beating the Speed of Sound here.

Lesley Paterson: Interview with Adrienne McClellan
Date: June 29th, 2014

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