Multisport Mastery is pleased to announce the March 2012 Featured Athlete:
Blake Ilstrup of Redmond, Washington
We caught up with Blake in between balancing a full-time law career, two children, a wife who's an ultrarunner and triathlon training.
I think it boils down to three things: well-roundedness, a desire to get out of my comfort zone, and health.
The main reason I decided to focus on short course this year is because I really want to be a well-rounded triathlete. I’ve never been one of those people who think that Ironman is the end-all-be-all distance. In fact, in many ways I think training for – and successfully racing – short-course triathlon is harder than long-course: the workouts and races are more acutely painful, there is less margin for error, and short course racing involves more strategy and tactics. But most importantly, I think that the short course training and racing complements the long course stuff and vice versa; the different training modes and loads make for a better and more versatile athlete.
Another reason for this year’s short course focus is my desire to get out of my comfort zone a bit. As an athlete, I’m probably wired more for long course racing, and I am pretty comfortable with LSD (Long Slow Distance) training. I’ve heard teammates and training partners say, “Give Blake enough road, and he’ll run anybody down.” But what happens if you don’t give Blake enough road? I want to learn how to race hard and aggressive; to put myself in uncomfortable situations; and to find out what where my red line is and push past it!
Finally, I have learned (from my sports doctor and the hard way) that the training intensity required for short course racing is not only good for you, but actually crucial to maintaining good health – especially for “older” athletes like me. (I’m 40. Pretty old, right?) High-intensity training builds overall strength, increases metabolic activity, and stimulates hormonal processes. In other words, it makes you faster and healthier!
What are you enjoying most about the short course training?
First of all, I like how time-efficient it is – after training for Ironman, executing a short course training plan makes me feel like a slacker! Also, as I alluded to above I like the fact that I am learning where my red line is and how to truly, acutely SUFFER. But most of all, I’m enjoying the quick results I’m getting: it’s been really interesting and fun to see the training turn into noticeable strength and speed gains week after week.
What do you enjoy about being coached?
I’m one of those people who – left unattended – would train myself into the ground. Therefore, I need a coach not only to coax the best out of me, but also to save me from myself. Also, being a dad, husband and busy lawyer/biotech executive, it’s a HUGE advantage to have a well thought out training calendar ready for me every month. I am grateful for, and a huge fan of, Liz as a coach. She is super organized, intuitive, a great communicator, and above all else understands the nuances of training and racing.
How do you balance your career, family and training? Any tricks or tips for other athletes?
It’s not easy, but I am blessed to have a very supportive team – most notably my wife Sharon and my two kids, who prop me up, keep me going and cheer me on. Couldn’t do it without them! Having said that, striking the right balance means making my training as low-impact as possible on my family; therefore, I try to train early in the morning and/or take a break in the afternoon at work. For example, I have my bike set up in the basement storage cage at work, which I affectionately call my Pain Cage . I get some weird looks from my colleagues, but it’s all worth it, because it’s convenient and time-efficient.
But my main balance tip would be to HIRE LIZ and leverage what she has to offer! Keep her informed and she will help you stay organized, focused and on track.
I’m looking forward to a fun and fast 2012 season!
We're looking forward to watching Blake kick off his 2012 tri season in a few weeks. He's already started with quite a bang at two local 5Ks in which he placed in the top 3 overall!