I’m changing things up a bit this week on the blog. Since the Tri-Clear Lake (triathlon event) happens to be this coming Saturday, I spent some time interviewing someone who is very familiar with the triathlon sport, Carrie Tysdahl. Carrie lives here in Clear Lake with her husband Troy and their three boys. In fact, Carrie's passion for the sport is a large part of the reason this triathlon event exists in Clear Lake. She and co-founder Jake Kopriva facilitated the inaugural Tri-Clear Lake event last summer. Carrie has extensive experience as both a triathlon/Ironman coach and athlete.
(Carrie Tysdahl, pictured left; photo credit: Troy Tysdahl via Twitter 2016)
During our chat, Carrie mentioned that after college she began to realize that she did not truly know what it looked like to work out or take care of her body. She recalled being 30lbs overweight, unhappy, and feeling as if she no longer had anything she was working towards. However, her uncle was training for an Ironman competition around that time and Carrie caught “the bug." She competed in her first triathlon in 2005 and admits it is a bit of an "addictive sport."
Early on in her training, Carrie discovered just how important nutrition is for performance—she recognized she could no longer just focus on the exercise itself, but rather needed to make her personal diet a vital and complimentary component of her training regimen. She shared some of what this dietary plan looks like with me during our conversation, noting that focusing on clean, whole foods for meals is key. I was fascinated by the complexity of it all and had no idea that even meals and snacks should be strategically timed and even rehearsed to reach optimum performance levels. Carrie also discussed the importance of individualized nutrition with me, commenting that every athlete needs to experiment and decide what works best for her. As far as performance supplements and energy products, Carrie expressed her frustration with the advertising industry. She explained how marketing has led to the misconception that a substantial amount of performance products need to be consumed in order to excel. She added that these products are simply not necessary in many cases, or at least not as the base of an athlete’s diet.
We also talked for a bit about recovery and what it looks like for her to care for her body when she's putting it under some pretty intense stress during training and competition. Carrie mentioned that (for her) recovery days are non-negotiable: “Everybody needs at least one day of complete recovery, doing no training, something like yoga, or a leisure activity.” She continued to say that good training elevates quality above quantity in her opinion. “Moderation is important. Training and competing shouldn’t consume you; finding balance is key,” she added. Additionally, Carrie mentioned that listening to her body for cues, foam rolling and massage, and reaching out for additional help if and when pain ever becomes chronic (longer than 2 weeks) as some of her self-care strategies. Prayer and visualization are two additional practices that help her move towards achieving her goals while training and competing. She explained her night-before-the-race routine of visualizing herself participating in the event. “I picture myself having a successful race, every step, every transition. I plan ahead for things going wrong. I run through the various scenarios and practice in my mind what I’ll do to calm myself and adjust my goals if needed.”
Toward the end of our conversation, Carrie and I chatted about energy bars and on-the-go options that are high calorie, full of clean healthy fat, easy to eat and compact. While whole food meals should certainly dominate any healthful diet, Carrie explained how athletes in particular do need products like energy bars and protein bars that they can consume while competing. At Simply Nourished, some of our favorite brands for energy and/or protein bars with clean ingredients are Rise bars, Primal Kitchen bars, Larabars and Ona bars. We carry these at Simply Nourished and plan to stock up for Saturday’s event.
Carrie and I wrapped up our conversation by talking about her “why.” I wanted to find out what drives her to participate in the sport of triathlon. In addition to personal fulfillment and a sense of accomplishment, Carrie acknowledged that her kids are a big part of her "why." She is passionate about modeling for them what it looks like to be healthy and take care of their bodies. She mentioned that one of her sons rode six miles with her recently, and that was really meaningful to her. Carrie continued to share how training is the one thing she sets apart to do for herself. And she doesn’t take it for granted. “As I’m running or biking I just think about how amazing it is that I can even do what I’m doing. I think about others who can’t or aren’t able to do what I’m able to do, and I’m grateful, and it makes me stronger.”
If you’re interested in watching Saturday’s event, the 750m swim portion begins at 8AM at State Beach, followed by a 12.4 mile bike ride south of town and a run from State Beach to the Surf and back to City Park, where the finish line will be located. The award ceremony is tentatively scheduled for 11AM. There are already 200 athletes signed up to participate, and Carrie anticipates even more will sign up in the next few days. I concluded the interview by asking Carrie if there was anything she’d like to share with someone who is curious about giving it a try. “If you’re at all interested, it’s a great way to challenge yourself. It is such an encouraging atmosphere to participate in, and triathlon is so much better for your body because you’re swimming, biking and running, rather than just running.”
Those of us from BE WELLness will definitely be cheering all of this year’s participants on this Saturday!