I met Kristen at the gym I workout in, Lifetime Fitness in Johns Creek, GA. My old trainer pointed her out to me telling me she competes in national level competitions. I was intrigued since then. I had a few training sessions with her and was so impressed with eh way she pushed me and kept the training sessions fun yet functional. My travel schedule didn’t allow me to have a proper routine with her but my curiosity increased on how she works all day and finds time to compete in national level competitions and how she pushes herself to do her best time after time. I was so thrilled when she readily agreed to do the interview for my blog! Please be super inspired like me of Kristen’s journey and advice on fitness:
- What motivated you to take part in the national level competitions and how have you progressed over the years?
I grew up in a very athletic family and that has always been a way of life since I can remember. Over the years I’ve done just about every sport, but have been drawn to endurance sports for the last 17 years, specifically running until an injury at 31. I started cycling since the run injury needed 6 months lay off to heal. My brother and father do triathlon and encouraged me to pick up the sport since I was cycling and soon would be running again. My first year competing I was 32 and did very well on a regional level so I hired a coach after my first year and I’ve seen nothing but progress over the past 7 years. As a fitness professional I understand the importance of having a smart progression plan. Even moreso a knowledgable coach who can see things you as an athlete cannot or will not. I also love the idea of having to perfect 3 sports. I’m never bored and LOVE the challenge each training session brings.
2. What specifically goes behind training for the different competitions? Specifically, what changes in your diet (example plan?), training regimen and how you handle doing this around daily lifestyles (does this change during training periods?)
The difference between someone who is just getting in shape for general fitness versus a competative athlete is quite different. Our annual training plan is based on when we peak for our “A” race(s). usually you can be in top form about 1-2 times a year. Doesn’t mean you cannot perform well in other races, but to be in peak shape, the training plan is quite intense and there’s a lot of volume, especially the longer the distance. First and foremost, I eat from the ground 90% of the time. I do enjoy chocolate and my wine, but I keep it in moderation. My nutrition cycles around my training regiem. At the end of the day, it’s important to be metabolically efficient and organic in my approach to food. Metabolic Efficiency is paramount for anyone who is looking to improve the way their body functions, competative or not.
As I stated earlier, I am a fitness professional so I am on my feet a lot during the day. Finding a coach who understood my lifestyle was huge because your training is only going to be benefitial if you recover properly from it. Finding that balance between work, training, and performing to my abilities took a few years and several coaches till I found what worked. Most weeks I’m training 8-10 hours a week, but when I start building towards my “A” race, it can increase to upwards of 13-15 hours a week. And the intensity also increases. The only change I make to my diet is I add more food as the duration, volume, and intensity goes up to make sure I’m not starving my body.
3. Once you have seen your ranking in a particular race, how do you change your training plans to place higher in the next set of competitions?
I don’t know my final rankings until the season is over. I don’t really focus on that as the end goal because that can really take away from the reason I got into this sport to begin with; to have fun. My main focus each race is to do the best I can. If I get a personal record and I place 20th, I’m stoked. My moto going into every race is this: You are already in a world of pain so dig deeper into the well and goin after a reward.
4. How does one start from a novice to even begin thinking of doing a trialthon and/or a national level race?
Anyone can do a triathlon. I think there is a misconception about the sport since most media coverage only shows Ironman which is the longest distance. But a sprint distance takes around 60-90 minutes. My recommendation is to hire a coach. Get a good training plan set and then you can work on your weaknesses should you find yourself wanting to grow into the sport. And age isn’t a limiter. My father is 66 and does them.
5. What kind of strength training do you do to keep stamina and strength for these races?
This is an excellent question that I think a lot of endurance athletes don’t take serious enough. It plays a big part. In endurance sports, you are doing 1000’s of repetitions so it’s very important the the core and stabilizing muscles are strong and flexibilty good. Without that, you run a higher risk of injury. Each year I’ve tried different forms of strength training to see how my body responds. This year, I found that a mix of pilates, yoga, and weights worked magic. Beyond that I would say the resistance training I have in my cardio workouts preps me for the type of race I do. So, for instance, if it’s a hilly bike course, I might add in lower gearing workouts or go ride hilly courses to build my leg strength.
6. You are one of the best personal trainers keeping your clients engaged with different exercises to build strength and lose weight or gain muscle. What are your top favorite routines that are different from the norm of going into a gym and just lifting weights?
Thank you, that’s very kind of you to say. I don’t necessarily have a favorite per say. I follow NASM guidelines for progression, but it’s all based on the body I’m working with. I am very passionate about what I do so I like the challenge of working with all ages, genders, special needs, people with past/present injuries, etc. If the person is motivated, I’m going to do my part as a professional to help them reach their goals. And when that happens, help them identify new goals to keep them going.
7.What is the next goal for you? Olympics?
The next goal is prepping for Age Group Worlds for 2017. I am also really considering doing Off Road Triathlon next season. I’ll keep doing this sport until I loose interest. I hope that never happens, but if it does, you’ll still see me somewhere in the fitness relm.