LOCHIE Armstrong knows exactly what he has to do to be among the country's top echelon of junior triathletes.
The 13-year-old set a goal to finish in the top three of Friday's Queensland School Sport - Triathlon State Championship, and in the process became one of two Wide Bay athletes on the podium.
While he described his race as "alright", the Year 9 Xavier Catholic College student said his run needed to improve if he wanted a similar result at nationals.
"The run. It's definitely the one I have to improve on," he said.
"Last year, I had a disease in my heel and I didn't run for three months. I'm just starting to get back into it so the run hasn't been too great lately."
The injury meant he was able to refocus his energy to the other legs and that showed as he stayed in the top three for most of swim and bike legs.
"At the start I knew it would be tough as there were 85 kids in my race, so I had to go out hard from the start (the swim)," he said.
"A few others caught me so I got out of the water second or third, but had a good transition to get to second. I always knew there'd be a few near me on the bike so had to keep pushing."
Like most competitors, the heat sapped much of Lochie's energy.
"It was really hot out there," he said.
"I had a bit of a headache out there but it felt good to finish top three. That was my goal for today.
"I was dying for the finish line.
"The last 75 was a bit hard. There are a few little bumps up the top of the turnaround and they're hard to get over."
Lochie thanked coach Brian Harrington and his family for their support in the lead-up to, and during, his campaign, but he said training would intensify between now and the April 18-21 nationals.
The tougher competition means Lochie will need to be at the top of his game, but he has a slight advantage in that the national championship will be contested on the same track as yesterday's race.
"We'll be doing a bit of training day and night, and we'll head to a few other races in the meantime to prepare," he said.