'Covid sidelined me for 16 months, but now I'm a triple national champ!': Kate Allan on her return to form

In her second full season of TT racing, the Team Bottrill rider has pulled off a Nationals hat-trick

Kate Allan in action on her TT bike
(Image credit: Larry Hickmott @ VeloUK)


For each article in this long-running WATT WORKS FOR ME series from Cycling Weekly's print edition, we ask a pro rider about their favourite things in training: what has helped them most in getting to where they are today. The aim is to get to the heart of the beliefs and preferences they hold dear when it comes to building form, maximising fitness and ultimately achieving results. For this edition, we speak to Kate Allan...

How has your background in running and triathlon helped you as a time triallist? 

It gave me a really solid endurance base. I was never especially good as a runner but loved it and ended up running a dozen marathons. When I tried triathlon [from 2011], I wasn’t a natural on the bike but loved the racing. I fell pregnant in October 2015 and after having my son Finlay I was suddenly much more pressed for time, so turned my attention to time trialling. 

How greatly did your training volume change? 

I went from doing 24 hours a week to between seven and nine hours, which remains my volume now. TT training is primarily about quality. Being able to streamline so much and still see performance gains was really rewarding. 

You’ve been coached by Matt Bottrill since 2015. How important has his input been? 

It’s the specificity that has made the biggest difference. Matt has tailored my training to suit my goals and the time I have available around work and family. I did my first TTs with Team Drag2Zero, where Simon Smart’s input was also really important, giving me a grounding in aerodynamics and positioning.

You had a long road to recovery after contracting Covid in 2020? 

Yes, I had a bad case of Covid with pneumonia, which took about 16 months to fully recover from. I had to stop training completely, then tried to resume racing in 2021 but still couldn’t do it. I guess that’s why for 2022 I wasn’t putting any pressure on myself, and I didn’t go back to being coached by Matt until May – only six weeks before the National 50-mile TT Champs. 

This was only your second full season of time trialling – how did you achieve so much? 

It’s been a lot down to consistency, I think. Whereas formerly if I wasn’t feeling tip-top, I’d soldier on through, I’m now more aware of how my body is feeling and make adjustments accordingly.

Your job as a sports PR must help with insights into the latest tech? 

Well, one of my clients is Wattbike, and I trained on their bikes through both of my pregnancies. Wattbike’s sports scientist Eddie Fletcher helped me a lot as I came back after pneumonia too. 

Have you made any mistakes in your training, in retrospect? 

Training through the early symptoms of Covid, and training too hard too soon afterwards, set me back. Had I not done that, I might not have needed the long time out. I’ll be more cautious in future. 

Do you do much in the way of off-bike training? 

I did a lot with PT Luis Silva last winter and developed a good gym routine, but I did find that once I began doing structured training, I didn’t have the time for both.

Rider profile: Kate Allan

Age: 37

Height: 5ft 8in

FTP: 286W

Lives: Maidenhead, Berkshire

Rides for: Team Bottrill

Best results: 1st – National 10-mile Champs (2022); 1st – National 50-mile Champs (2022); 1st – National Closed Circuit Champs (2022)

Twitter: @KateAllan16

Instagram: kateallan16

Kate Allan at her desk

(Image credit: Kate Allan)

Top tip for racing mums? 

Draw on your support network – don’t be afraid to ask for help. My husband, my mum and childcare are the support that allow me to train. If it was just me alone, it wouldn’t be possible. 

Road bike or TT bike in training? 

This season I trained almost exclusively on my TT bike. As a result I’m so used to riding it that I produce more power in that position than I do on my road bike. Most of my rides are quite punchy too, over 20mph

Quick-fire faves

Motivational song? 'Reapers' by Muse

Place to ride? Lanzarote

Race distance? 50 miles

Cafe stop treat? Flat white

Race result? Winning the National ‘10’

Inspirational cyclist? Hayley Simmonds

Dream race to win? British TT Champs

Post-race treat? Curry takeaway

Sport or hobby away from cycling? Family days out

Quality in a training partner? Good chat

The full version of this article was published in the 20 October 2022 print edition of Cycling Weekly magazine. Subscribe online and get the magazine delivered to your door every week. (opens in new tab)

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David Bradford
Fitness Editor

David Bradford is fitness editor of Cycling Weekly (print edition). He has been writing and editing professionally for more than 15 years, and has published work in national newspapers and magazines including the Independent, the Guardian, the Times, the Irish Times, Vice.com and Runner’s World. Alongside his love of cycling, David is a long-distance runner with a marathon PB of two hours 28 minutes. Having been diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) in 2006, he also writes about sight loss, equality and social affairs.