skorarunning.com: Thanks for taking the time for this interview Michael! Back in May you shared with us a photo of yourself from the Texasman X-50 triathlon. This year you also did your first half Ironman at Galveston. Can you tell us a bit about those races and your first season doing long course triathlon?
Michael: This season has been an adventure for me! I was coming off of a knee surgery and anxious to get back into sports. I finally made the decision that I wanted to do an Ironman. My coach set this season up as only doing half IM distances and below. To get my endurance up and so I could get a feel for the races. I have to say it has been nothing but enjoyment for me. After my first triathlon, which was a local sprint distance I was hooked! After finishing my first Half IM I was obsessed. The culture, the people, and the challenge just left me wanting more!
I think my favorite part of training is the long runs and rides where I’m just by myself and I can get into a zone and it simply listen to my body. A lot of people enjoy listening to music but I actually prefer not to, I feel more in sync. One of the most surprising things for me was how much I started to enjoy swimming! I had been a cyclist and a lacrosse player so running and riding came easy. Swimming was a little bit of a challenge at first, but now it is a release.
My favorite activity overall is probably cycling but really it changes weekly if not daily. As for the races, the Half IM in Galveston was awesome, I got to see a lot of the top pros in the sport and it was cool to be in Lance Armstrong’s first Texas race. I finished in about 5:30, which I was very happy with. The X-50 was a lot of fun as well I ended up getting 3rd in my age group! I was thrilled because I went into that race not feeling super prepared. I slack off a little bit in training for that one
skorarunning.com: Now that you have done a half Ironman and have that experience, what do you think will be key to success at your full Ironman next June at Coure d’Alene Idaho?
Michael: I think staying healthy and not over training, as well as keeping a good workout routine. Sometimes it is hard to get up at 5-530am to get a workout in before work. Hitting the snooze button is very tempting sometimes! The big factor my coach always stresses is rest and recovery time. I think it is a very under utilized part for endurance athletes. I think for some athletes it is hard to grasp the idea of taking a day off or doing recovery workouts which can be boring but are necessary.
skorarunning.com: Few amateur athletes have a coach. What would you say to someone considering hiring one?
Michael: As for being an amateur with a coach, I think I got lucky. My coach is actually a really good friend. He is also very good at what he does and more importantly enjoys what he does. I would say for anyone considering hiring a coach to do it. You do spend a little money on it, but in my personal experience you don’t break the bank. Triathletes and endurance athletes already invest in all kinds of gadgets and tools to help improve their times. I say having a coach is one of, if not the most important tool you can have. A knowledgeable and experienced coach can help tailor a training program to your fitness level, your daily schedule, and length of race you want to, they keep you honest on workouts, and they can help structure race strategy to help ensure a finish or even a PR. I could go on about the benefits of having a good coach. I think is a extremely valuable and underestimated tool someone can get. If it were a decision between new carbon wheels for my bike or a coach for the season I would go with a coach. It’s the engine, not the bike that finishes races. Coaches tune the engine, wheels will only be as fast has you can spin them.
skorarunning.com: Who is your coach? How would anyone be able to get into contact with if they were looking for a triathlon coach?
Michael: My Coach is Harold Wilson, he is a certified USAT coach and works with Endurance Corner, which is a great group. His information can be found here. As a member of the club you also have access to an online forum that gets checked regularly by other elite coaches and doctors to answer any and all question you might have from medical and training related issues to balancing life and family issues, its an all around program. He is based in DFW,TX but has clients all over the US from Texas, California, Chicago, New York, and many more
skorarunning.com: You seem like a busy man. How do you deal with work, training, and family. Any advice for people looking to move to the next level with their training?
Michael: I’m no more busy than any other working professional, but yes balancing life and training can be quite a juggling act and I would be lying if I said I have figured it out. I’m still constantly working on it. I think one of the big parts of being successful is having a support group, I’m lucky to have a girlfriend that is okay with me going to bed at 8-9 to get up for a 5am workout, she also rubs my legs after long runs (I think its because she enjoys causing me pain), but my family is also very supportive Mom, Dad, brother along with friends.
Surround yourself with people who care and it becomes a lot easier, and remember its not always about you. I’ve learned a thank you and occasional home made breakfast for your girlfriend instead of a morning workout goes a long way. You also have to be dedicated, getting up at 5am sometimes 4am to get a workout in is not a fun thing to do, staying motivated is difficult and everyone struggles with it, even the pros, and they get paid to do it. Lastly, it’s easy to burn yourself out, I would say it’s okay to take a day off every once in a while, don’t get tied up and obsessed with your training program. Remember it’s suppose to be fun!
skorarunning.com: Where do you see yourself and triathlon in 5 years? Any big long term goals?
Michael: Where do I see myself in 5 years? I wish I had a definite answer for that one, but who knows. I know I want to continue with the sport. I love everything about it and can’t image my life any differently. I used to go out drinking and partying every weekend, now I’m in bed at 10pm and get up at 6am for long Saturday bike rides and Sunday runs. I hope in 5 years I can make it to the Ironman World Championships, that would be awesome! I also want to go to Taiwan and compete in the Ironman there. My girlfriend is Taiwanese and has family there, so I’ve been wanting to visit. I also really want to start my own business or find a job working in the triathlon community, making my passion a full time job is a dream of mine.
www.skorarunning.com: Great Michael, thanks for the interview! When you complete your Ironman next year, we’ll have to do another interview with your race report
Michael: Thanks for considering me for an interview, I’ll be more than happy to give a race report after my full in June