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This past week in the Team Triathlete community, Skye Moench joined us for an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on all things triathlon. Moench, the top American finisher at May’s St. George Ironman World Championship, covered a lot of ground with Team Triathlete members, discussing everything from training volume to race prep to her beloved purple bike.
Here’s this week’s roundup of the best questions for Moench. Remember: any O+ member can access Team Triathlete for all the giveaways, swag, community, and expert Q&As. Join Team Triathlete for more expert Q+As with coaches, physical therapists, pros, sport psychologists and more!
WINNER! Team Triathlete member Alex H. of Ann Arbor, MI will soon receive a free pair of FORM smart goggles valued at $228, simply for asking Skye Moench a question in this Team Triathlete AMA! Join today for exclusive access to upcoming AMAs and giveaways.
Skye Moench Answers Your Tri Training Questions
How important is it to train well past the distance of the race for the swim? I know as a pro, your mileage on bike and run are far more than an age-grouper, but would love to get your perspective around training distance as it relates to the pro level. -Stephen G.
Moench: I think swimming far past the distance in the swim is more about being very swim fit versus just being able to do the distance. I think going beyond the distance is a confidence builder, but for me as a pro, I need to be so fresh coming out of the water, regardless of how hard the swim portion was of the race. Also, I do not come from a swimming background, so keeping volume up for me seems to be very important! I’m probably working a lot harder swimming the same pace as a born swimmer.
What is your race day eve protocol? And what kind of intensity do you put into that final shakeout before the big race? -Joshua I.
Moench: On race eve, I eat eggs and white rice with soy sauce for dinner, and some ice cream for dessert. I am in bed 8-9 hours before I have to wake up, and hope I get 6-7 hours of sleep. I also like to run through my race plan on my head, practice transitions in my head, etc. one last time!
As for the shakeout: I do my last bit of intensity three days out, two days out I usually have a rest day, and day before is just 20-40 min easy in each swim, bike, run.
Is there anything you tell yourself during a race when things don’t go right (like a flat tire or muscle tightness), and you need to completely reset your mindset? -Kristen K.
Moench: I don’t have a specific mantra that I tell myself in these situations, but I have a mindset in racing that helps me get through the unplanned. I stay positive. That doesn’t mean I don’t acknowledge that something isn’t ideal (like a flat tire or lost nutrition), but if something goes wrong, I just problem solve the best way to remedy whatever my situation is, and then keep going. I work really hard to stay present in the very moment I’m in – not think about how much I’m behind or how much longer I have, etc. it’s always just what I can do right now to have my best race.
After your crash a few years back, what did you do to overcome trepidation on the bike, specifically at the higher downhill speeds? -Jason B.
Moench: Great question! Because I crashed at end of September, I didn’t even have the chance to get back outside on the bike until mid-March, 5 and a half months later. Getting on the bike I felt no anxiety, but descending mountains and hitting a bump or something definitely triggered some anxiety! I rode my brakes pretty hard descending for several months, but I gained confidence the more I was outside. I slowly got back to “normal” as I reminded myself how many times I had descended safely before my crash. With that said, there is no shame in riding brakes in training. I don’t take risks descending.
I’m curious how you balance the off-season. Do you do other sports? Lighter load? Keep it the same? I find I get a little worried about losing fitness, but I also really need the break and to spend time on other things and with the family. It’s so tricky to balance! -Alex H.
Moench: I totally understand where you’re coming from! It’s hard to not “feel” or “look” as fit in the off-season, but the break really is so important. I find the mental part is what I need the most. For me, the off-season is just way less pressure. Mentally, the pressure is off because races are months away, and that alone makes a big difference for me. My training is less – I usually get two weeks completely off, then start doing some smaller sessions to get moving, just what I feel like, etc. Then I’ll just do two sessions a day for awhile before really ramping up and getting back to three sessions a day. So yes, lighter load, not stressing about trying to be race fit, and taking time for family and other hobbies. Stringing together some lower volume weeks and months puts you in a good position to ramp back up!