A few tips from Craig Alexander

Since I’ve been exploring various ways to increase my performance I thought it might be a cool idea to talk to one of the heavy hitters in triathlon.

World Champion Triathlete Craig Alexander was in town this weekend for the Racine 70.3. He made a stop a Runner’s High and Tri in Arlington Heights on Friday night, but I couldn’t make it!

However Craig was cool enough to make some time on Saturday to answer some of my questions and give me a few tips about triathlon.

Though to date I’ve only done one Tri, that hasn’t stopped me from wanting to jump from my one 70.3 to the full Iron distance next year. I asked Craig what tips he had for transitioning to the higher distance. He said the training isn’t dramatically different.

“You’ll want to lengthen the time of your long runs and rides.”

He also suggested adding the occasional over distance run or ride, just not every week. He told me that Nutrition is a HUGE difference make in the full iron distance races because of how long you’re competing. So working on this during your long training rides and runs is key.

“There is more margin for error in the 70.3 distance compared to the full distance Ironman.”

One thing that plagued me during marathon training was injury. When I started running my body was not equipped to handle some of those longer distance runs and the end result was me being sidelined for three weeks.

Recently Craig had to take some time off due to a viral infection in his lungs which had him coughing so much he cracked a rib. Being laid up for any athlete isn’t pleasant. How do you deal with having to be relatively inactive for weeks?

“If you have a good foundation and the fitness is there, then the [missed] training doesn’t matter.”

I understanded what he was saying and I think it’s true, probably more so for him and other professionals rather than people like me. But Craig did say  though you still lose a little fitness you’ll fairly quickly get it back.

One last thing I need to know is how Craig balances his training, racing and life. I find it difficult some times to “squeeze in” a 5 hour training session and  having to leave my wife and son at home. How does he do it?

“We got a child seat for the bike, so on some of my long runs we would put my daughter in the seat, so she and my wife could bike along with me. And now  that my daughter is older she can ride her bike with me on some of my rides. She’s grown up around the sport and loves to be on the bike.”

Craig also said that many of the events have a kids triathlon the day before and that his kids have started racing in those, so it becomes more of a family   event.

“The most important thing for any amateur triathlete at any distance is to remember to have fun and minimize the stresses.”

Craig said he tries to focus more on his overall performance and less on the result of the race.

“You’re not going to win them all, and when don’t it’s about what you learned from the race that matters”

It was great to get a chance to talk with one of the premier athletes in the sport. He really put in perspective what’s important when it comes to training for triathlons of any distance.

Thanks to Craig for taking the time to talk to me.


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