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15 Fit & foodie with Sophie Gwyn (nee Corbidge)

Hi, I'm Sophie! Up until February I was known as Sophie Corbidge but now go by Sophie Gwynn... although I often still race as Sophie Corbidge so all my Athletics NZ records remain in the same place haha. I am a recently retired professional triathlete, and now have a full time job as a teacher in Cambridge and I'm also the school triathlon coach. I love my job, I love my lifestyle and I love spending time with people I care about. On that note, I have a passion for athlete health & wellbeing, so try to share some of my own experiences with others in the hope that they can learn from mistakes I made, or lightbulb moments that changed my life! Since retiring from professional sport, I have kept up my running and have competed in a few local half marathons. Although sport is no longer my priority, it is still a huge part of my life and will remain to be a significant part of my future. I am a 'Type A' personality and definitely stress way too much about almost everything... but I am learning! My three best qualities would be: Loyalty, Integrity & Empathy.

1. You recently announced retiring from triathlon which I can imagine was a tough decision. However, what are some positives you have experienced since retiring and has it been a drastic lifestyle adjustment for you? It was initially a shock to the system for my body because I went from full time training to full time teacher - standing up most of the day made my legs so sore! It sounds silly because I was used to high volume running & cycling but all day on my feet made the legs just as tired. I still have a passion for fitness, so I have now found a good balance of working & running - I run during my non-contact periods or outside of school with my husband and our dog. This keeps me feeling fit and healthy, but my priorities have definitely changed. On weekends or after school, it is awesome to be able to experience new things like hiking in the Kaimanawa ranges or spending time with friends & family without feeling guilty about missing training. I am also loving weekend sleep-ins and making new group of friends through work.

2. Who is your biggest inspiration?

This is a tricky question! I try to draw inspiration from many people because I like to see the best in people and believe that everyone has something to offer. Whether it is senior teachers at school who have a great attitude to teaching, or junior triathletes who have a passion for their sport, I look for inspiration in everyone I interact with. If it's relationship inspiration I would look to my parents, if I am looking for inspiration to have a more relaxed attitude then it would be my husband!

3. Your proudest moment (life or sporting)?

I was really proud of my debut World Series race in London back in 2015 in front of my friends & family (I grew up in England) where I was ranked 59th and finished 11th. That was an awesome day. However, my proudest moment would definitely be my wedding day!! We got married in Feb this year, and it was initially sad to think that none of my extended family from the UK would be able to attend, but we managed to live-stream the day and it was such a proud moment for me.

4. Your favourite type of training session?

I used to LOVE short-sharp sessions such as max 50s in the pool or 200m reps on the track, but as I got older, I started to prefer longer tempo sessions. This year I started getting into half marathons so I would do longer run sessions with tempo or race pace efforts in them and I started to really get into them. Something about sitting at a solid but comfortable pace for a longer period of time is very satisfying.

5. Go-to meal after a race?

Burger & fries!

6. Your favourite race day breakfast? I will, without fail, have a bowl of oats with peanut or almond butter, chia seeds, brown sugar & salt. Maybe some cinnamon & blueberries thrown in for good measure.

7. What is a quote that’s resonated with you for life?

"Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can't, you're right."

8. What is something you have learnt about nutrition that had the biggest enhancement for you with your sports performance?

After suffering from disordered eating in my early twenties, my body struggled with amenorrhea and weight fluctuation for about 7-8 years. I also had years of being intolerant to wheat & dairy and had lots of rules around what I could and couldn't eat. After seeking medical help and working with a nutritionist I trusted, I managed to reintroduce all food groups and my weight became more stable. The past 3 years have been breakthrough in terms of being much more relaxed with my eating and fuelling properly. I now have much more trust in my body's ability to process food and no longer focus on calorie intake or burning everything off. I know my body can do its job and I am enjoying this freedom!

9. What is your favourite strength exercise for disciplines of triathlon and why?

I have never been a massive fan of gym work but I appreciate that it has its place. My favourite exercises would be balance & mobility exercises, such as standing on a bosu and doing "hip aeroplane" rotations to help with hip stability and strength. I also like TRX work for upper/lower body.

10. COVID aside, what was the biggest setback in your triathlon career and how did you overcome this?

I have had plenty!! My biggest setbacks were adrenal fatigue from 2015-2016 and then a sacral stress fracture in 2018. Both took a lot of rehab and patience, and I am very lucky to have had awesome support from my family, (now) husband and coach, David through these times.

11. If you didn’t pursue teaching, what do you think you would have pursued instead?

I can't see myself doing anything else to be honest! Maybe working in early childcare or tutoring... is that too much like teaching to count?! I think education and working with children are roles made for me.

12. Your favourite meal choice at your favourite local?

I love a good curry so chicken tikka masala or korma goes down a treat, or a good burger from The Smoke Collective. But if I was cooking for myself, it would definitely be baked salmon - my all-time fave.

13. What’s been your favourite time to race and why?

Morning - between 9am and 10am: enough time to digest breakfast without having a crazy early morning start, but not too late that I spend the morning being nervous! Some triathlons I did started late afternoon and that was my least favourite race time.

14. When was the moment you knew you wanted to pursue triathlon at the next level?

I was 16 and made the Junior Elite World Champs team in Vancouver. This was when I wanted to make a career out of triathlon.

15. What would be one thing you would tell your teenage self, knowing what you know now?

You are going to be fine. Relax and don't stress about the future. Also, don't listen to anyone who has an unjustified opinion of you or your body.


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