As a sportswoman Kate McIlroy has excelled at anything she puts her mind to, whether it be mountain running, steeplechase, triathlon or now cycling. McIlroy, New Zealand Sportswoman of the year in 2005, has been a professional athlete for well over 10 years. Since changing her focus to cycling she has also taken on a full-time job having to balance life with full-time employment and her goals on the bike.
At the start of 2016 McIlroy took up a position in the marketing team of accounting software giant Xero. A freakish accident put a premature end to her triathlon career. “As an athlete it’s nice to call time on your terms rather than be dictated by your body. I was pretty upset about it for a few months as I couldn’t train/race which meant no income! I was very lucky to get this opportunity to work at Xero” McIlroy says.
Going from life as a professional athlete to full time employment was a huge change for McIlroy. “Currently I work 40-50 hours a week and train anything from 12-18 hours a week. When I was competing full-time I trained 30-35 hours a week – 30km swimming, 350km biking, 70-80km running” She explained. It took McIlroy time to adjust to her new work life balance but now she has found her feet. “As the year progressed, my fitness came back, I raced quite a bit around New Zealand and am now racing for an Australian Team – Specialized Women’s Racing and the Benchmark Homes Women’s team domestically.”
Having gone into full time employment staying focused and motivated is a big key for McIlroy. “I love the challenge of seeing how good I can be at cycling. Having always had three sports to juggle as a triathlete, it’s nice to focus purely on one sport “she explains. This has worked out incredibly well with McIlroy finishing third at the 2017 Elite Road Nationals on a very challenging course with some extremely classy opposition, the form continued with a great run of results both here and across the Tasman.
Time has become of the essence for McIlroy, and she has a refreshing outlook on it. “I’ll always want to be better and wish I had more training hours. I have built up a pretty big aerobic base over the years that I think definitely helps me race off less training than I would like,” she said.
Whatever the future brings for McIlroy there’s one thing for sure. She loves what she is doing. “I still need to train and compete, it’s a huge part of what makes me, me and the bike racing plays a huge part in coping with the change in my life and keeps me happy – I simply love to race.”
“I’ll keep cycling until I stop enjoying it. You can’t get results if you don’t love what you do!”