Triathlete Brownlee sets sights on European Cross-Country Championships
HOW does a world champion triathlete prepare for the defence of their title? Length after length in the pool? Hour after hour on the bike? Mile after mile on the road?
FAMILIAR SITE: Alistair Brownlee was a regular on top of the ITU World Championship Series podium in 2009 (Getty Images)
Not Alistair Brownlee, who will be making his debut at the European Cross-County Championships in Dublin this weekend.
Brownlee has been a revelation in one sport - triathlon - this year. He romped to victory in all five ITU World Championship Series races in which he competed to take the overall crown.
The 21 year-old will be a very big fish in a small pond as he takes to the muddy fields of Santry Park in Sunday's 8018m under-23 race.
Brownlee readily admits running is his favourite of the three triathlon disciplines and the Yorkshireman claimed silver at the junior English Cross-Country Championships.
The stats are impressive. Brownlee clocked 29:04 minutes in the 10,000m running leg of the World Championship Grand Final on Australia's Gold Coast - a time which would have earned him a seventh-place finish in the 10,000m at the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
And that's after a 1.5km open water swim and 40km bike leg.
But the Bingley Harrier doesn't travel to Ireland as Great Britain's main medal hope - that pressure falls upon the shoulders of Ricky Stevenson, who finished fourth at last month's senior trials.
Brownlee admits he is putting the prospect of adding another medal to his ever-bulging trophy cabinet to the back of his mind.
"I'm looking forward to getting out there and having a good race," said Brownlee, who came sixth at the UK Cross Challenge trials.
"I haven't really set myself any targets other than I want to run better than I did at the trials - but that was the first race I'd done in a while.
"I know a few of the guys on the team because we used raced against each other for years in cross-country as juniors.
"But it's my first international cross-country event and I'm going into the unknown. I'll still have a competitive edge and it'll be a nice break from winter training. It can be pretty boring otherwise.
"I had a great run at the Grand Final in Australia and it was good to perform when it mattered but it will be impossible to compare that to the mud and hills of cross-country.
"You've just got to concentrate on beating the people around you."