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Q&A: Triathlon Coaches & Athletes

June 23, 2016

triathalonThis weekend is our 6th annual PT Solutions Allatoona Triathlon in Acworth, GA.  The race consists of a 500m swim, 16 mile bike and 5k run through Lake Allatoona and the downtown Acworth. At PT Solutions, we pride ourselves not only on treating endurance athletes but being endurance athletes. Many of our therapists participate in their own events and competitions when they are aren’t helping others recover and get back to competing. This month in honor of our upcoming triathlon, we’ve talked with our triathlon coach, Brett Daniels, and clinicians, Jack Jones and Brendon Engle, to hear about their personal triathlon careers.

How many triathlons have you completed?

Brett – PTS Sports Coach – Since I started doing triathlon in 1998, it is way too many to count.

Brandon – PTA at PT Solutions of Aurora, IL: I have competed in over 30 total triathlons. Five IRONMAN triathlons, ten half IRONMAN races and numerous sprint and olympic distance triathlons.

Jack –  Physical Therapist & PTS Sports Coach in IL: 20

What inspired you to compete in your first race?

Brandon: I always wanted to do a triathlon and watching the World Championship on TV motivated me to do one.

Jack: A friend asked me if I wanted to try it out with them. It was a group of 6 of us all haphazardly trying to learn to swim and bike for about 8 weeks before The Sandestin Triathlon back in 2011.

Brett: I was deployed to Kuwait and they were having one at the fitness center at the Marble Palace. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

What inspires you to race event after event?

Brett: The feeling of accomplishment, fellowship, and competition.

Jack: I am inspired to train and race because it gives me motivation to challenge myself physically and the solitude of training helps me clear my mind.

Brandon: I love the individual competition of the race.  The race lives and dies with just me.  Its different than a team sport, which I have played my whole life.  If I do well its because of my effort, and if I do bad I only have myself to blame.

Describe your typical training schedule each week. Do you train alone or with groups?

Brandon: I typically train 12-18 hours a week, usually between 2-3 hours a day depending on the week and if I have a race coming up.  I typically swim x2 per week, x3-4 bikes and x3 runs.

Jack: I usually train in groups with masters swim a couple times a week. I help lead a cycling group Wednesday and Saturday morning and generally run on my own.

Brett: Currently, I am recovering from a nasty bike crash last fall so my typical week is anything but right now. When I am healthy and training, I try to swim 3-4x a week, bike 3-4x, and run 5-6x. The longer workouts are on the weekends. I like to train with groups especially in the swim (motivation), and bike (safety) but I normally do most of my training solo.

What’s been your favorite race and why?

Brandon: My favorite race so far has been Ironman Wisconsin.  It is an amazing town, great support, beautiful course, a well run event all around

Jack: My favorite race so far is one not too popular amongst others, Kansas IRONMAN 70.3, now run by Legend Endurance in Lawrence, KS. Also, I love the Ironman Wisconsin course in Madison. They are both so grueling and challenging. HILLS. BIG NASTY HILLS!

Brett:  Ironman Chattanooga 2014. I finally put it all together and had a good race.

What’s the farthest you’ve ever traveled for race?

Brandon: Last year I was lucky enough to travel to Whistler, Canada in British Columbia.  My wife and I made a vacation out of the trip.  It was for Ironman Canada.

Jack: I once traveled to Perth, WA for a sprint tri and got my wife and mother-in-law to race too! We used rented commuter bikes, had flat tires, helicopters circling to spot sharks and we all survived. Technically, we were there for by brother-in-law’s wedding, but details aren’t important.

Brett: Couer d’Alene Idaho. Awesome town and race.

What’s the race (or race location) of your dreams?

Brandon: I’d love to some day compete in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.  I would have to qualify for this race.

Brett: I would love to race in Europe and Australia.

What’s your best advice for first time triathletes?

Brandon: Best advice I can give is to just have fun.  Any triathlon you do requires a lot of mental toughness, sometimes more than physical toughness.  Try and enjoy every aspect of it.  The swim, the bike, and the run.

Jack: First timers should focus on finishing and having fun along the way. Don’t think too much and don’t buy anything fancy. Just race!

Brett: Don’t go out too hard and enjoy the day. Don’t worry about places or finishing times.

Do you have any odd rituals you’ve picked up while racing?

Brandon: The only ritual I have is I always eat a banana and peanut butter sandwich the morning of my race.

Brett: Not really. I am not superstitious.

How does your family get involved with your races?

Brett: My family comes to the bigger races. Both of my kids have also done triathlons of their own.

Brandon: My wife has been super supportive of my racing.  She comes with me to all my races and keeps me motivated to train and work hard.  Without her support, racing and training wouldnt be possible.

Jack: Family is always cheering, last race, IM Louisville, my 5-months pregnant wife was worried I was not looking too good and ran 5 miles out onto course in boots to find me in the middle of a not so nice neighborhood late at night. I had thrown up a few miles after seeing her last and was running 8 min/miles when I saw her running up the road. I stopped, found the race director with a golf cart and convinced him to take the pregnant lady back to the finish line.

What’s been your most humorous triathlon moment?

Brandon: Before I arrived at one race, I realized I had lost a skewer to my bike, which is what holds the wheel on.  Luckily for me I was able to get a spare skewer the morning of the race, just prior to the race starting.

Jack : I had a flat tire one mile from transition once and just picked the bike up and ran it in. That was funny to watch I’m sure. Also, I once had a random car drive up next to me on my bike during a race and try to hand me back a water bottle I had dropped. I lost my balance, fell slightly onto their hood, quickly pushed myself back up, kept pedaling, grabbed the bottle said thanks and wondered how I was still alive!

Brett: It wasn’t humorous at the time but it would have to be when my first real tribike flew out of the back of my truck and promptly was run over by an 18 wheeler. It ended up in a million pieces before I ever had the chance to race on it.

What were you surprised to learn about triathlons and racing that you didn’t know before you started?

Brandon: Just how much dedication and discipline it takes.  If you want to reach your potential, it takes dedication, support, love for the sport and commitment.

Brett: Nutrition is important. I bonked horribly at my first Olympic triathlon because I only drank water and consumed no calories during the race.

Jack: I learned I really enjoy the data and science behind cycling, I never would have guessed!

Anything else you want people to know about triathlons and being a triathlete.

Brandon: It is a unique sport.  It is not just running, or swimming or biking.  it takes skill in all 3 areas.

Brett: It is a fantastic sport but like anything worth doing it takes hard work over a long period of time to be good. Be patient and good things will come to you.

Jack: Go try it out, just once!


Looking to race in your first triathlon or work towards a new PR? Our PTS Sports coaches are here to help!


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