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A top American triathlete talks with Rudy Project about missing out on Kona this year, training in the winter and setting goals.
Andy Potts’ road to becoming a pro triathlete was a passion he pursued from a young age. After graduating from college, he spent a few years trying to figure out what he wanted to do for work, as many young people do.
“I had about nine different jobs along the way,” he recalls. “Everything from construction to coaching to (working as a) sales rep.”
It took him until he was 26—right around when triathlon had become part of the Olympics—to figure out that sport was what “ignited” him as a person. It gave the University of Michigan swimmer another way to reach his dream, as he says, and “there’s been no looking back since.” Before doing his first pro race, he had three sponsors, including Rudy Project.
Potts is known for his ability to exit the water first during races and won his first IRONMAN title in 2010 at Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Highlights for the 2013 season included wins at IRONMAN 70.3 California (3:49:45), IRONMAN 70.3 Eagleman (3:37:46) and IRONMAN 70.3 Timberman (3:53:23). Potts secured his place in Kona this year after defending his title at IRONMAN Lake Placid (8:43:29)—a feat in itself. He was the first man to do so at the longest-running American event outside of Kona. In Hawaii, he had to bow out of the world championship at the last minute due to a leg injury.
Over the span of his career, the father of two and Olympian has honed in on the recipe for success at the full- and half-distances. Part of that is executing a quality off-season, or winter, base. Now based in Colorado Springs, Potts, unlike most professional triathletes, chooses not to attend training camps in warmer climates. Instead, he works out in a shed in the backyard that he calls the “pain cave.” Tap into Potts’ secrets for a smarter winter and use them to your advantage as you ramp up for 2014.
Rudy Project: Is it mentally difficult to do all of your training indoors over the winter months?
Andy Potts: I think mentally it is challenging, but it also gives me a little bit of an edge when it comes to racing. There are fewer distractions, so you have to be focused, but at the same time, I do look at this as a job, so I don’t want to waste an opportunity to improve. I try to look at it the bright side: I don’t have stoplights and, if it’s inclement weather, I don’t have to worry about my ride. I don’t, however, have the ability to do certain things that lots of people can do outdoors like get up out of the saddle and punch it. There are limitations, but I think the advantages so far have outweighed the disadvantages.
What are your goals for winter training? Are you pushing the volume or intensity, or are you just looking to maintain your base?
Every off-season has a purpose for me and it’s changed as I have evolved through the years. I start to look at my deficiencies as an athlete and I try to analyze what I am lacking. What do I need to improve? How can I get better? I try to seek new stimulus to do just that. Whether it’s focusing on flexibility or core strength or power, or maybe my weight, there’s always something I can improve on. That’s what keeps me very interested in triathlon—my ability to seek improvement.