Five-time Ironman Champion, three-time half Ironman champion, countless podiums, and multiple appearances at Ironman World Championships, Laura Siddall knows a thing or two about confidence. But Siddall’s confidence is a quiet one, a calm inner strength that she fought to build one day at a time, transforming herself from a worrier to the warrior we all recognize on the start line.
The former British army officer entered the sport in the midst of her engineering career. Leaving behind a full-time job in Australia, Siddall moved to the USA to train full time. Although she came in as the age group world champion in both the standard and half ironman distance (races that were only one week apart), Siddall says “I didn’t expect to suddenly transition from winning age group to pro but it was very different stepping up to the half and full distance as someone still relatively new to the sport,” she says.
“When I first turned pro, it was that imposter syndrome of thinking ‘do I belong here,’ and ‘am I good enough’,” Siddall says. “I’m a worrier, I always have been since I was a kid. Overly worrying about ‘is it good enough,’ ‘what do people think,’ the usual things that girls go through when they are school. All of those things are still part of who I am.”
Going from having a corporate salary to nothing, Siddall put pressure on herself to perform and “justify” her decision to pursue sport. It took 3-4 years for Siddall to feel like she was getting the results she felt justified her decisions and, she says, it was during those few years that consistent growth and progress started to build her confidence in her decision. “It was over time, as I learned more about that training process and did start to get a few results, that it kind of just started to build that confidence,” Siddall says. “I saw that ‘oh yeah, I just need to keep my head down and do the work,’ cling on to that inner belief and stay true to the reasons why I wanted to turn pro in the first place, and not get caught up in the rest of it.”
Now going into a race, Siddall says her confidence comes from her experience, but not exactly her experience of winning races. “Confidence comes from doing things day in and day out that build up that bank of experience so when you come to race, it’s all familiar, you’ve done it before,” Siddall says. “You trust in the process, but you can kind of see where you’re going as well; you can understand it and you can see the gains you’re making.” As the days, months, and years collected, so did Siddall’s confidence and results, and while she admits the worrier is still a part of her, she’s a lot more warrior.
Now a seasoned professional, Siddall has launched SIDSquad, a mentorship programme for young females in triathlon to give back to the sport she loves so much. “I wanted to support somebody with the things I struggled with,” Siddall says. A crucial part of growing her confidence, she explains, was from having supportive coaches. “A good athlete/coach relationship is where you feel the coach genuinely cares and has your best interest at heart,” Siddall says. “It’s not like they need to be your cheer squad all the time, they also need to be there to reign you in or give you a harsh chat when things aren’t going well, but it’s with them that you work through things so having that trust in the relationship is huge to building inner confidence.”
Still in its infancy, Siddall personally mentors and coaches a young British triathlete but the SIDSquad programme had so much interest she was prompted to start on online community as well where the girls are able to ask questions, connect with each other, and have access to resources. Aiming to provide a fully supportive environment, Siddall also connects the girls with nutritionists, bike fitters, coaches, and any other support services the girls might need. There are no performance qualifications or experience standards, Siddall explains, “it’s so these girls stay in sport and see the benefits. Sport is incredibly powerful,” Siddall says, “for mental health, wellbeing, and life skills, whether it’s at the elite level of just with mates in the park.”
To follow Laura at Ironman Lanzarote this weekend, visit https://www.ironman.com/im-lanzarote for results and other information.
Thanks Jeff!! So sorry I wasn’t there at the end… as carted off to medical with my calf! But thanks for the support and hopefully we can all finish together this year!
Way to go Laura! Great race at IM Lanzarote. You are one tough competitor. Just a little bit longer run and you would have won! I’ll be tracking your progress this season. Stay well and strong. Jeff Cuddeback ( I was the cyclist on your Challenge relay)