Lionel Sanders hosted a private press conference for media and sponsors this morning, and as always, he was the ultimate open book.

From eating habits and weight loss to over-training dealing with critics, Sanders didn’t shy away any questions just three days before the biggest race of his professional career. Here were some of our favorite sound bites from the reigning runner-up.

On what he’s learned from Jan Frodeno throughout his career…
In 2014 I went to the 70.3 Ironman North American Championship in St. George and thought I was one of the contenders and had a massive eye-opening experience. Jan won and I finished 10 minutes behind. I was a miserable person to be around after that. It took a few days but I realized that only one guy can win and what’s the point if you’re going to be miserable when you don’t. I saw Jan and the way he carried himself at races and eventually I was able to change my perspective and realize the point of racing is just to give your absolute best in all three disciplines. I attribute a lot of that change to Jan. It’s a lesson I continue to live by. We could sit here for five hours and I could tell you all the lessons I’ve learned from Jan.

On his respect for the German athletes’ style of training and racing…
They’re just hardcore—they’re meticulous. One of the things I really like is that it’s not about the show side of things; it’s about having great machinery and what the performance looks like. People think they produce great bikers but the truth is they just produce great all-around athletes. In Canada triathlon is still kind of a niche sport, but in Germany, it’s mainstream. They take it as seriously as we take hockey. There’s an appreciation for the sport over there and it’s that appreciation that helps produce such great athletes. If there’s anything I can do for triathlon in North America, it’s to bring triathlon more into the mainstream like that.

On what he took away from the moment Patrick Lange took over the lead last year…
The big thing I learned is not to change too much. If you divide my time into Patrick’s time, I think I lost by about half a percent. That means I got 99.5 percent of it right. I succumbed to the second-place syndrome of making big changes before I realized that there isn’t too much I have to change. I realize that you really want to be one percent better next year. That’s how I’ll go about things for the rest of my career—just trying to get a little better at each sport each year. And then get a little smarter about nutrition—that’s been a big part of this season. I’ve learned about my sweat rate and how to go about replacing it. The second half of last year’s run I pushed myself to a level I’ve never been before, but the reality is the machine wasn’t given the appropriate nutrients to function properly. I lost one minute to Patrick over the first 10 miles and 13 minutes to him over the next 16. So I think that’s the biggest lesson: Have a good nutrition plan and stick to it so you can show what you’re truly capable of.

On how his eating habits have evolved…
I was one of the worst in the world for a long time. Most of my meals were frozen foods and if it wasn’t that, I was usually eating fast food. I just wasn’t healthy. I wasn’t sleeping well, I’d get headaches—I just wasn’t eating like my competitors. What it came down to was finding a balance. I have a very polarized personality. I’d say, “That’s it, no more junk food—all salad and fruit.” And then I’d lose 10 pounds in 12 weeks and I’d start to deteriorate.” I’ve had to find the right balance and how to get the calories I need. I’m back up to about 160 pounds, which I feel is a good weight for me.

On the benefits of coming out to the Island a month before race day this year…
I feel like I could live here. I did my final run workout at 1:30 p.m. yesterday and it felt good—the heat wasn’t bothering me at all. It’s about becoming one with the conditions. When you come here a week and a half before, you’re doing panic training because you feel like you’re not adapted to the conditions and you feel like the only way you can adapt is to train. Coming here allowed me to get over those insecurities. I’ve already done a long day here where I swam the whole course, biked the whole course and then ran 25K, and I was good. I felt like I still had another good 17K in me. It’s helped me get mentally ready and become one with the conditions.