Boulder, Colorado’s eternal blues skies and magnificent mountainscape have made it quite the alluring spot for world-class triathletes and this year, Fitmark Ambassador Dan Cox will be one of them.
If you’re wondering what Dan has been up to since he appeared on ABC’s The Bachelorette (Season 9), well, when he’s not training for his next triathlon, he’s running a few Total Nutrition stores, three in Las Vegas and one in Palmdale. This year, he’ll travel to beautiful Boulder, Colorado, to compete in the Ironman Triathlon on August 2nd.
This challenging Full Ironman course starts off in the Boulder Reservoir at the foot of the spectacular Flatiron Mountains. After the swim, Dan will make the first transition to a scenic 112 Mile Bike course that promises to be a challenge with the effects of the rolling hills and altitude. Dan will then transition to the full Marathon, 26.2 mile run to finish the total 140.6 mile race.
If you take on a race like this, you need to be in top physical condition. How does Dan do it? We asked him a few questions about his training and nutrition.
How did you first get into competing?
“It all started with a charity bike race for Best Buddies. This is a charity that I’m actively involved in that does great work for people with intellectual disabilities. I was very physically active at the time, but not as much from a cardio standpoint, but was a swimmer growing up. So I thought, Why not!
After putting it off and putting it off, I decided to buck up, bought a bike and started training. That was five years ago, and I’ve been competing ever since.”
How many triathlons can you do in a year?
“I used to do 3 Olympics and a couple of half’s, but this year I’ll do a full and a half. I like to do different races each time and travel, see different parts of the world.”
Do you have a training partner?
“My buddy and I usually do the same races, but he lives in California and I’m in Las Vegas. About once a month we’ll get together and train for a weekend, and it’s great to have someone there to keep you motivated. There are some days I don’t feel like getting on the bike and putting in the saddle time. But when you have someone else to talk to who is training for the same race, they can help motivate you those days.”
What does your training look like?
“During the week, I’ll focus on interval training and high intensity training. On the weekends, I train for endurance, increasing the hours from 3 to 6, weekend over weekend.”
There’s a lot written about the swimming component of the race being the scariest part. Why is that?
“So many people fear the swimming part and think it’s the hardest part of a triathlon. Don’t let that put you off trying a triathlon. When you think about it, swimming is the shortest part of the race and the least impactful on the body. Also you could finish last in the swimming and still win the race. There’s so much less training needed for swimming that you shouldn’t fear it at all. For me, it’s like a warm-up.”
What advice do you have for the start of a race?
“I’ve been doing this for five years and swimming is my strongest leg. So at the beginning of the race, I’ll stand off to the side where it’s less crowded and let everyone else go first. When you’re up front, there’s a lot of crowding and you can get kicked or hit by numerous arms and elbows, and get your goggles knocked off. It’s enough to affect your performance. I may lose 15 seconds at the start, but I know I’ll make it up by not expending energy fighting the pack at the start. It’s just something I’ve learned over the years.”
How do you train for the bike race?
“With bike training, you have to put in the hours. With running, you can get great workouts in under an hour, with biking it takes longer to build up, minimum 1 ½ hours. You have your saddle time and your interval training. Last year was the first time I trained with a power meter and it changed everything. Knowing my cadence and output helped me increase my power for my races.
And then there’s training for running after biking…transitioning. Brick training is essential to teach your legs how to run after repeating a bike movement for so long.”
Tell us about how you train for the running part of the race.
“For running, I’ll do track work. For example I’ll do a 10-minute warm-up and then do sprint intervals – sprint for ¼ mile, then moderate pace run for ½ mile, then sprint for ¼ mile, etc. This kind of training is for speed. There’s no way you can get faster at running by simply putting in the time and increasing your long miles. You have to get your heart rate up and train your legs to move faster. And I will run for total time; ie do this workout for 30 min or do a long run for an hour. I never set total distance workouts, only time workouts.”
Do you do any muscle conditioning?
“About 3-4 days a week, I’ll do some weight training and metabolic conditioning. From a mental standpoint, it’s a nice break to head to the gym to lift weights and not worry about doing any kind of cardio.”
Tell us about your nutrition program
“Everybody is different, but I keep my nutrition consistent. It’s a healthy balance of protein, carbs and fats, and I’ll mix up the sources. I carry my meals in my Fitmark bag. I have the Shield and it goes everywhere with me. It helps me stay on track.
I keep my supplements consistent too. If I change it up too much before the race that can really affect my performance. Before training, I’ll take Cordygen Cordyceps, Engaged Pre workout and Amino Action BCAAs and during, I’ll take Intra-Fuel, which is a mix of Carbs, BCAAs and electrolytes. Then post-workout, I’ll have some glutamine and an all natural Iso Naturals protein shake. During the day, I’ll take Vitamin B, C, D, Calcium and Magnesium. For endurance athletes, we’re constantly working in a depleted state, and this can lead to cramping, fatigue and muscle breakdown. Even if your diet is perfect, you need to supplement with essential nutrients to help your body recover and repair faster.”
What about race day?
“On race day, you have to eat on the fly. I’ll start with a healthy breakfast of oatmeal, muffins and eggs. During the race I’ll consume about 5 drinks each worth about 400 calories, and lots of meal bars (400 calories each) and bananas. During the Full Ironman race, you’ll probably burn 10,000 calories or more.”
What are your top 3 Fitmark bags:
We want to wish Dan the best of Fitmark luck on race day and we hope to catch up with him again soon for some more expert advice.
The Fitmark Team