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Less than three years ago, Kendra Goffredo didn’t know how to swim, hadn’t ridden a bike in 15 years, and was coping with a running injury—not the most auspicious circumstances to tackle a triathlon, let alone an Ironman. But after her brother-in-law issued the challenge to race Ironman Arizona to raise money for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF), an organization that has supported her family (her father has battled the blood cancer for the past 7 years), she found a profound purpose. A former Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador and Nepal, Goffredo brought her appetite for adventure and intrepid personality to her training. She linked up with tri clubs Team Z and Ignite Endurance near her Arlington, Va., home, went to her first Masters workout, and began rehabbing her foot and learning how to bike train. She raced her first Olympic (now almost two years ago) and loved it, but her first taste of success was at the Musselman half in Geneva, N.Y., where she beat all the guys she’d been trying to chase in training. “I thought, ‘Oh wow, maybe the longer the better,’” says Goffredo. That hunch was spot on, as she finished fourth in her very first Ironman (10:27:58). Today, the 30-year-old consistently finishes atop the podium in any long-course race she starts.
Here she offers four tips from her own rapid-rise journey in the sport.
Be consistent and structured with pool training
“I’m one of those people who literally could not swim across the pool,” says Goffredo, who now finishes the half-iron swim in about 35 minutes. “I noticed a big difference when I went from swimming twice a week to 3-4 times per week,” she says. “It was just consistency—getting in the pool more frequently. Going longer has also been productive. She’ll average about 3,000 yards per workout, but three times each month she’ll log 5,000-6,000 yards. Another key tactic is starting each swim with a specific set in mind. “I really need to have something written down before I get into the pool, otherwise my breaks are too long and I end up chatting with other people,” she says.
Be like a yogi: Set an intention
An avid yoga practitioner, Goffredo applies the principle of always setting an intention to her triathlon training. “Maybe it’s a recovery ride and it’s just to stretch my legs out, or to breathe and feel lucky that I can cycle, or just being grateful that I’m not still at work. Sometimes my intention is to put in serious work so I can get faster.”
Train with people who are a little faster
Goffredo also credits her dramatic swimming improvement to training with a friend who is a bit faster than her. “It pushes me, and I know that’s made a big difference,” she says. “Also, I’ve found guys to bike with who accept me as one of the crew, and they push me and give me tips. I’ve figured out the days that I should join them and days that I shouldn’t.”
Make it about more than you
Goffredo draws substantial motivation and personal gratification from the fact that she’s swimming, biking and running for a cause that means something to her. “I’ve been able to have success, which has meant that people are interested in what I’m wearing or what I’m writing about on my blog (Chitoandkgo.com), and I see that as a unique opportunity to do something for the greater good,” she says. “Through this platform, my family and I and our supporters have been able to raise $65,000 for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. It’s brought meaning to what I do not just on race day, but when the alarm goes off and there’s that decision that I have to make to get out of bed, I remind myself that I’m not just doing it for myself.”
Want to Get Sponsored?
Sometimes it’s as easy as asking. Goffredo identified companies who make products she enjoys and uses, and simply asked if they’d be interested in supporting a passionate endurance athlete. Of course, the stellar results didn’t hurt her case, but many times companies are looking for athletes who will be well-rounded, articulate brand ambassadors. Zoot Sports, Smartwool and Nalgene are three major brands that have thrown their support behind Goffredo and her cause.