Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Saturday, March 27, 2010
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Saturday, March 13, 2010
What is it like being a resident triathlete at the Olympic training center? That is what I, Kevin Collington, a member of USA Triathlon’s Project 2012 National Team and OTC resident athlete, am telling you about today. I know what you’re thinking: “Hmm, this could be an interesting topic. I’ll read on and see exactly what goes on in the life of an aspiring Olympian.” It’s true – training for the Olympics as an OTC resident athlete is a wonderful opportunity that I am lucky to have. But I must warn you now – I have more habits than the average octogenarian nursing home resident! Read on at your own risk!
A typical day starts out at 7:00 AM. I wake up in my dorm room on the third floor of the east resident wing, grab a snack and a water bottle, and head down to the aquatics building. Swimming is offered Monday through Saturday at 7:30AM but since everyone has his or her own coach it is never mandatory. With such a great group of athletes training at the OTC, including 3 time Olympian Hunter Kemper, and Beijing Olympian Sarah Haskins, it’s always better to swim with the group if only for the fact that we challenge each other. Our swim coach Mike Doane usually gives us 4500 to 5500 meters total with a 1500-2500 meter main set.
Brian Fleischmann, Hunter Kemper, Ben Collins and Joe Umphenour getting ready to swim.
After swim there is only one thing on my mind: breakfast! The dining hall at the OTC is an amazing place – the food tastes good and is healthy (although as with any dining hall some choices are healthier than others). It opens at 7:00 AM and closes at 8:30 PM everyday, closing down for only two 15 minute windows to switch meals (10:45 to change over to lunch and 3:45 to change to dinner).
Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day at the OTC. After swimming I make the 200 meter walk from the aquatics building to the dining hall and head straight for the grill. The grill is where it’s at: fresh made omelettes! Two eggs with onions, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, and spinach is my favorite. Sometimes I ask the grill chef if they have any fresh avocados in the back. Luckily today they do. Here is the finished product:
After breakfast I generally relax for awhile – this is a good time to get some work done. It’s amazing how much work is involved in being a professional triathlete outside of training. I use this post-swimming time everyday to trim the weeds of my inbox, i.e. emailing sponsors, booking flights, analyzing training sessions. After an hour or so my breakfast is digested, my inbox is under control, and it’s time to go run.
Since it’s still winter as I write this, I’m not doing very much fast running. In fact today I will be lucky to break nine minutes per mile! I hop in my car and drive to my favorite running destination in Colorado Springs – Palmer Park! Palmer Park is best described as a sheer cliff face that rises quite unexpectedly out of suburban Colorado Springs. After a rocky, steep climb I make my way to the Templeton Trail. Palmer Park rates its many trails as either ‘green,’ ‘blue,’ or ‘black.’ Templeton is a black trail – the most difficult. In fact it runs right along the edge of the cliff face, twisting and turning over boulders and steep, rocky climbs. The first time I ran out here I averaged 10:05/mile. After two months of training here on a bi-weekly basis a combination of increased trail running skill, increased running fitness and memorizing the trail has greatly decreased my pace. Today was my fastest day in Palmer Park at 8:27/mile. It’s not fast but it is great non-rhythm running – you can never just zone out and get into a groove in Palmer Park.
Palmer Park. The trail is up on that cliff face.
After running, I head back to the training center and it’s time for lunch. There’s nothing special today so I eat and get out quick so I can start my last workout of the day – a bike ride. It has only been two hours since my run but the weather has taken a turn for the worst. Snow! Colorado is the definition of unpredictable weather patterns. This means I will be riding inside but I’m prepared. I grab my bike and head down to the basement of my dorm building where the USAT training room is. I throw my bike into one of the eight waiting Computrainers and warm up. Again, it’s still winter so my ride isn’t challenging. After a 45 minute warm up I get into the main set of three rounds of ten minutes at a zone two wattage, keeping my cadence under 50. It’s a definite strength set – simulating the mountains I would be climbing had I been able to get outside. For entertainment I turn on some NCAA basketball and hook my iPod up to the stereo system. Having these entertainment options makes winter indoor riding a lot more bearable.
Riding in the USAT training room.
At this point the swim is done, the run is done, and I just finished my bike. So I’m done for the day, right? Wrong – it’s time for some recovery. Tonight I have a massage scheduled in the recovery center. Each resident athlete gets 90 minutes of massage per week. I usually break my time down into a 30 minute session and a 60 minute session. We have the choice of several massage therapists but I always choose Robby Dolby. He is certainly the best massage therapist I have ever worked with. After a session with him I’ll definitely be ready for tomorrow.
Robby Dolby – the best massage therapist I know!
On the few nights a week where I don’t have a massage I will still find time to use the NormaTec MVP for 30 minutes. The NormaTec is a compression device that goes over your legs and fills with air to your desired pressure – I usually choose 80mm Hg. Once it fills up I look like I’m wearing hockey goalie pants. However, despite looking a bit odd these things really work!
After yet another glorious trip to the dining hall for dinner I usually start to wind down for the day. I try not to do anything stressful like answer emails or the like after dinner – sleeping at altitude is not always the best so for the few hours after dinner I do my best to completely relax. I’ll usually watch whatever movie I recently got from Netflix. Alternately anything on the Food Network is usually good. After that a couple of chapters in whatever book I’m reading (currently the Twilight series) will get me ready for bed and each night at 10:30 I call it a day.
So that is a day at the training center. Yes, it is very predictable. In fact after 72 days straight (the length of my latest altitude training block) I would even describe it as boring! But the truth is that this is what is required of me to be the best I can be – complete and total dedication to training. The best part is knowing that next week I will hop on a plane to Australia where I will open up the season at the Mooloolaba World Cup and then the first race in the World Championship Series in Sydney. There is nothing predictable about those trips and if I get a good result I know all of my training will be worth it!
Good Luck, Kevin! We are pumped to see you tear it up on the ITU circuit this year. Keep gunning for London.
Monday, March 8, 2010
She got here on Tuesday. We explored the dirty dirty city that is my home. I liken it to a dirtier, heated up version of Cincinatti. Sort of like the carribean's armpit. Not exactly your ideal vacation spot, but cool in its own right. The city has mass options and I feel like we definitely experienced the majority of the stuff worth doing... mainly eating chinese food and pastries.
We also traveled to a small town called Las Galeras. The rain pissed all over for our entire stay there, but we still hiked to a cliff overlooking the ocean and saw whales thanks to the pro eyes of Caitlin.
My training was a bit off what I would have liked stemming from a couple off days due to the vacation. Definitely worth it, but I am back at it and I need to get to it to get the proper training fatigue for this block.
In other news, the english learners at this school apparently love Allanis Morsette... I played it for them during a reading exercise ( chosen by popular demand and they sang it like a kids choir). Really weird. They also like moonshadow by Cat Stevens. Ecletic taste.
Monday, March 1, 2010
JP: Trevor, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. First, can you tell us when and how you got started in Triathlon?
TW: I focus on the Ironman and IM 70.3 stuff for sure. My swim is getting better, but it's definitely not in the league of being able to compete in anything draft legal. With Ironman you've got to have some speed, but it really comes down to strength. On the run, if you can hold a 6:40 mile pace for 26 miles off the bike you'll be in contention. I can see that coming my way in a few years, but a 31 min 10k in short course is another matter.
JP: Can you walk us through the decision that you and Heather made to commit to being full-time professional triathletes?
TW: The first couple years as an age grouper (2004-2006) I had one speed in training - hard. Hard in the pool, hard on the bike, hard on the run. Even on long 30km runs I would aim to break old records every time I went out. Painful way to train and injuries followed.
Slowly I started reading about Mark Allen and Peter Reid's approach and their use of a lot of slower aerobic work - especially running. I stayed in that vein for 2 more years as an age grouper with great results. Now, as a full time athlete the biggest change is overall volume, as well as the difference between a hard day and an easy day. Hard is hard, easy is 'why am I doing this' - it's a difficult thing for me get used to, I often find myself going too hard on the easy days.
TW: 2009 was a year of adaptation and learning, but I saw gains across all three sports at various times through the year. Those gains just never really came out all at the same time during a race! I've now sorted out a lot of issues so hopefully 2010 is the year to lay down a complete race.
JP: Could you describe a basic week for us?
TW: Like everyone, it's always different. January, February, and March always have the biggest weekly volume - around 30 hours for me. As the race season approaches we get a little bit more specific and throw out the extra grey zone volume. Making the weeks feel harder, but the volume edges down closer to 25 hrs. You really have to listen to your own body and can't just pound out miles for the sake of trying to get to 30 hrs for the week. Prime example - this past week I had to take 2 days totally off because things were falling apart. That was not in 'the plan'. It makes the week on paper look horrible, but it really was the best thing for next block of training.
JP: Your RV gives you tons of flexibility in training. Where is your favorite place to train?
TW: I would love to explore Flagstaff a bit more. We've really only ever put in long training blocks in Solvang, California and up in our home of the Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada. Out of the two I prefer the Okanagan Valley, however, if Solvang had a lake that was swimmable I would rate it higher because of the general lack of vehicles on the beautiful (yet very rough) roads. I also like to run off road a fair bit - Solvang doesn't have much to choose from on that end. I think we'll try Tucson next winter, I'd also like to see why everyone loves Boulder so much.
JP: Moving forward into 2010, what are your goals as a developing pro?
TW: Definitely putting together a little bit more consistency and some higher placings. I had a decent 6th place finish at Ironman Coeur d'Alene last year and I want to step that up for 2010 to include some solid results inside the top 5. But, I don't rule out having one of those freaky days where you shatter all expectations.
JP: Which races are you targeting in 2010 and why?
TW: Ironman St. George and Ironman Canada are the two biggies. Ironman St. George because it's close to our winter training area. I hear it's a hilly course and that suits me as well. Especially after training down south for the winter. We'll most likely drive the RV to the race site a few weeks before hand to make sure we know the course well.
Ironman Canada because the timing works great if you do an early season Ironman, and it's close to our home base for the summer. I love that course too. After that we'll see what happens, perhaps a 3rd Ironman later in the year, but if not I'll keep racing shorter distances through November.
JP: Excellent… Time for the lightning round!
Favorite Candy? Trader Joes Peanut Butter Cups
Favorite Movie? Kill Bill II
Favorite Meal? Sushi -but that never fills me up, so I'd need to top it off with a Burrito.
Favorite Workout? Anything with a long climb. Be it running or riding, I love going up big hills. Hopefully one day I can go back to France and ride the epic climbs.
JP: How are things in terms of sponsorship?
TW: Heather and I are both really happy with the companies we're working with. Our newest sponsor is First Endurance - considering some of the past issues I've had with severe dehydration during long races I am extremely excited to be using their products this year. I've really made some great nutritional changes for race day.
Blue Competition Cycles - Started with them in 2008 and have loved every bike we've been on.
AVIA -was the first sponsor we ever had, they actually managed to get a jersey and shoes on Heather before she won IM coeur d'Alene in 2008, two weeks after joining their crew.
JP: Trevor, thanks for taking the time. Before we go, what is your best tip for the age group athlete out there?
TW: Set goals -small attainable goals on your way to where you want to go. Without them your training and racing won't give you the same satisfaction.