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5 Questions with Pro-Triathlete Meredith Kessler

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Ironman Champion sits down with Rudy Project to talk about Pain, Strategy, and Training in San Francisco

First of all, a big congrats to you on your win in St. George – 70.3 National Champion! You’re obviously in great early-season shape. Is that ever something to worry about, or can you maintain a high level of racing fitness through IM Arizona in November?

Thank you so much! I absolutely cherish races where everything comes together – will never take those for granted! My coach, Matt Dixon, and I, under the PurplePatch philosophy, have developed plans to allow me to attempt to go into each race without being too over cooked. When I had a full time job working ample hours a week, it did take me a lot longer to recover because I had to be a work on Monday and sit behind a desk for many hours a day or whatnot. The biggest change since I did become a full time pro is being able to properly rest a day or two after the event and ease back into normal training. I am able to use my Recovery Boots (KEY to helping the legs bounce back a bit faster), Arctic Ease cooling wraps (vital to handle inflammation), eat and hydrate properly, and get the actual semi rest (even if on the computer working – just at your own pace or with the aforementioned things) that your body needs to rebuild.

The purplepatch philosophy that Matt does (with me) doesn’t entail multiple days off since we believe that the engine needs to stay active even if the workouts are not as intense. For me, keeping the body moving helps with the recovery aspect. The days after a race do call for some light workouts but you are usually training with intensity again by the end of the week. If you follow the plan then you can do your normal training going into a race, and then the race becomes an extension of your workout – again, just one continuous progression!

 

Do you have a favorite discipline (swim, bike, or run)? Why? Least favorite?

If you would’ve asked me this question three years ago, I would’ve said swimming because I have been doing it since I was a kid and it is my ‘thinking’ time. Although I am still partial to swimming, I have grown to appreciate the subtle nuisances of the other two disciplines. As we all know as triathletes, it is important to strive to be proficient and consistent in all three!

 

 

I’ve heard you say that ‘it’s important to become comfortable being uncomfortable’. Do you have any “tricks or strategies” that you’d be willing to share? Do you think that an athlete can develop mental toughness, or is that something that you’re just born with?

These are tough questions and one age groupers and pros are struggling with on a daily basis. How far can you push your mind and body? What is your pain (or ‘discomfort’) threshold and when is it prudent to draw the line?

I do believe mental toughness can be developed but it isn’t something that will happen overnight. I have witnessed many athletes have that ‘a-ha’ moment in their training where they realize they can push through the mental blocks grandfathered into their psyche. It is a long process where you have to put yourself into situations that your mind and muscles are not accustomed to or you will plateau in triathlon. In my particular situation, with a background in team sports, I have been toeing this line for many years and this has helped me in the sport of triathlon. However, in order to improve, I am still figuring out ways to push myself to achieve goals.

The saying ‘getting comfortable being uncomfortable’ (GCBU) is something that Matt has really engrained in me over the last 7 years under his umbrella. I have come to learn that THIS is where the magic happens and where the real gains are made. GCBU applies to all facets of life but, it is something triathletes must face on a regular basis, but NOT in every workout. One example is when I was an age grouper, I used to swim for hours, like a hamster on a wheel, but there was no getting out of my comfort zone. Two years ago, Matt persuaded me to attend early morning purplepatch sessions two times a week to swim with elite age groupers and pros. This led me to a place where I was being pushed by swimmers who were far better than me which was what we needed to take that next step in my triathlon evolution in the swim. I was definitely uncomfortable (still am in these sessions!) but my mind and muscles, over time, learned to deal with this welcoming change to my workouts.

 

Is living in San Francisco an advantage or a hindrance, in terms of your training? All those steep hills and of course, that old adage “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”

There is no place like San Francisco – I feel so blessed to live in such a lovely city!  I think because we do the majority of my training in San Francisco, there are certain race conditions I love to tackle. The first is I enjoy courses with hills because this is what I practice on and are accustomed to living in SF. I also thoroughly enjoy cold weather races since I train in the cooler 50-70 degree temperatures in the micro climate we inhabit in the bay area.

If I know an upcoming event will be taking place in hot weather conditions, I have absolutely learned that I need to prepare for that or my cold weather body will not adapt adequately! I have had trouble in the past with unusually hot weather conditions because of the environment I train in. So, the short answer to your question is the conditions can be an advantage or a hindrance depending on the specific race so you have to monitor the weather weeks in front of the event to know what you should prepare for or target races that suite your strengths.  Ultimately, you don’t want weather to be a factor in your racing so one must learn to be able to cope with all typer of weather and temperatures as you never know what could happen on race day.

On a side note, I enjoy being close to family, friends, and the purplepatch crew on a regular basis in the Bay Area. It allows me to maintain balance in my life so your mind is not constantly being bombarded by thoughts of training and racing. You need other activities, like a girls’ dinner or time with the husband, to stay grounded and clear your head for the next day. Living in San Francisco for the past 12 years provides this haven where I’m surrounded by people I love so I nourish this luxury daily and it helps to fuel me in my day job.

 

Why are you a Rudy Project Athlete?

The answer to this question is short and sweet. Rudy Project sturdy, innovative and timeless helmets have saved me through multiple crashes in 2012 and the glasses ooze performance, yet are on the high end of style. Rudy Project is fantastic to work with because of their meticulous attention to detail in their products and their dealings with their customers and athletes.  Rudy Project truly provides the finest personalized customer service not only to their professional athletes but to ALL of their customers. I have seen this first class service in action and feel very fortunate to be a part of such a respected brand and company.

 

 

 

About RACE

Running and Cycling Enterprises (“RACE”) is a distributor of award-winning, high quality products for triathletes, cyclists, runners and other athletes who demand functional products that allow them to compete and train more effectively.  RACE currently distributes Rudy Project in North America and the Caribbean. For more info, visit: http://www.runningandcyclingenterprises.com

 

About Rudy Project

Rudy Project designs and manufactures hi-tech sunglasses, digital prescriptions/Rxes, helmets, goggles and gear by applying the most advanced science and technology. Designed and crafted in Italy since 1985, Rudy Project has grown quickly as a premier brand throughout North America.  Rudy Project has won Outside Magazine’s prestigious “Gear of the Year” Award, twice, for its cutting edge frame and lens technologies. Rudy helmets were recognized as the #1, most worn TT brand at the 2011 and 2012 Ironman World Championship in Kona, HI and the Wingspan time trial helmet was selected as Triathlete Magazine’s “Best Aero Helmet” in its 2012 “Buyer’s Guide.”  Of late, Rudy Project has prided itself for providing the absolute best prescription eyewear for athletes and outdoor enthusiasts around the world.  What sets Rudy Project apart is unparalleled customer service standards, cutting edge products and technological innovations, and proprietary, award winning lens technologies including ImpactX™, Polar3FX™ and RPOptics™.  Rudy Project offers a Lifetime Replacement Lens Guarantee and an industry leading 3 year frame warranty. Learn more about Rudy Project at www.e-rudy.com

 

 

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