I would say I have one of the best jobs in the world: I get to train almost every day, I get to travel around the globe and I get to race for a chance to represent my country in the Olympic Games.
Ever since I was a little kid I have enjoyed sports. Baseball was (and still is) my favorite sport, but I have played and tried almost every sport I could. I eventually ended up running cross country, swimming and playing baseball in high school. It wasn’t until I went to college at Dartmouth that I specialized in running. As I neared graduation in 2004 I made a decision to become a triathlete. That meant I had to learn to bike competitively and get back into swimming again.
I have now been a professional triathlete for 11 years. I have represented my country in the Beijing Olympics in 2008, won two world championships (Under 23 in 2005 and Duathlon in 2009), won one World Series race in 2009 and won three national championships.
Through all, a lot of things have changed but one thing has been constant: training.
As a triathlete I swim, bike and run — and to stay on top of my game I usually only take one to two weeks off each year in November before starting back up for the next season. It is an unforgiving sport where you can get left behind easily if you are not training every single day.
Over my career I have had several coaches, and I have learned a lot about myself and what kind of training works for me. Personally, I need high quality training without lots of extra mileage. Training in that fashion means I am doing lots of hard workouts each week and a few easy workouts to complement the hard ones. My mantra is, “You have to go fast to go fast — and go easy to go fast.”
Of the three parts of the triathlon, the running comes the easiest to me because of my collegiate running background. So this year I have been focusing on improving my bike strength and swim speed.
A typical week of training consumes 20-24 hours of my time, which does not include the time spent at massages, the chiropractor’s office, or doing biomechanic work. Our races are just two hours long — a .93 mile swim, a 24 mile bike and a 6.2 mile run, but to go fast over that distance means training a lot more than that. Each week I am in the pool swimming five to six times, totaling between 20,000-23,000 yards. In a week, I bike for around 10 total hours, usually covering about 150-200 miles, and I run 45-55 miles.
On some days it seems like an endless training loop — like I’m going from one session to the next — but staying focused is the key.
Photographs by Chip Litherland/The Players’ Tribune