One of my favourite things about triathlon is that some of the best in the world at the sport show up at the same races you do. With many Ironman and Challenge races having pro fields, it’s quite possible that you could look at the next bike rack over in the transition area, and spot one of your pro triathlete role models preparing to race. That’s something that doesn’t happen in many other sports.

My interest in triathlon started at the end of 2013, and having reached several of my running goals in early 2014, I knew I wanted to take on a new challenge. I’d become a loyal listener to triathlon podcasts, started following along with race results, and had picked out a few girl crush pro triathletes who I found particularly motivating. One of them was Angela Naeth.

Pre-Kona 2016 interview with pro triathlete Angela Naeth

Photo credit: Redbull

I first reached out to Angela in fall of last year after having heard her speak on a podcast, and only half expected a response. I was shocked when she wrote back, and eventually we got to talking about Challenge Bahrain, the race I flew home to watch in December 2014. (My full recap from a spectator’s perspective is here.) Angela was also there (racing, not spectating!) and had an awesome 5th place finish. We met up afterwards, chatted about all things triathlon, and she put me in touch with her husband Paul, who coached me to my first 70.3 triathlon goal this year at Challenge Penticton.

Angela has had a stellar 2015 race season, and she was certainly (and continues to be) a huge source of inspiration for me in my own training. She’s currently in Kona, gearing up for the Ironman World Championships on October 10th. Last week we caught up over email for a little pre-Kona interview, and here’s what she had to say!

Q: Firstly, you’ve had a totally KILLER season, and congratulations on your win at Ironman Texas in May, Timberman 70.3 in August, and your 2nd place at IM Racine in July! What’s your favourite moment from this season so far, and how did you celebrate your win in Texas?

A: Thanks so much! It has been a great year indeed! I’d have to say my favorite moment so far was the last 50m of Ironman Texas, knowing that I was going to be heading to Kona and that I executed a perfect race. It’s when you get these moments in your journey to your goal that makes every day prior that much more amazing. I love it.

As for celebrations, I celebrated my Texas win by heading to an awesome Redbull Endurance camp! Perhaps not the most traditional way, but Redbull peeps rock and I was stoked to be heading to the mountains with them to learn more about my body and human potential.

Pre-Kona 2016 interview with pro triathlete Angela Naeth

Q: Previously you’ve dominated in the 70.3s but this year you’ve been concentrating hard on Kona. What made you decide to switch your focus to the full distance?

A: Kona has been my goal for as long as I remember. I love the half distance and it’s all part of the bigger picture – focus on 70.3s for the first few years, get some solid racing done at the Ironman distance, then onward to Kona!

Q: You’ve been coached by Jesse Kropelnicki of QT2 this year, and clearly, things seem to be going well! Can you describe some of the key changes to your training and/or nutrition that you believe have led to the biggest improvements?

A: Jesse and I work very closely on all aspects of my life, and that, has been the biggest game-changer. The training schedule is there but the real nuts and bolts of any coach/athlete relationship is getting into the mind of the athlete and also providing the tools they can then confidently use come race day. Jesse has me prepared.

Pre-Kona 2016 interview with pro triathlete Angela Naeth

Photo Credit: Aaron Palaian

Q: You’ve just spent some time at training camp in The Woodlands, Texas with the QT2 folks. How are you feeling after a couple of weeks of super intense training?

A: Awesome! I love working with other athletes, and I love having my coach right there on the pool deck and on the roads. I really soak it up! We had some solid training days and I’m now just putting the icing on the cake here in Kona. The Woodlands was a great intro to the humidity. When I arrived in Kona, I already felt well-acclimatized.

Q: Everyone has great training sessions, but everyone has less-than-great ones too. How do you stay motivated when things start to get tough?

A: The key is to let each workout ride out. You’ve got to have the confidence that it’s the building of one workout to the next that creates changes. I always focus on what I did well even if the workout was lackluster, and always look at one area I can improve for the next workout. It keeps the motivation rolling.

Pre-Kona 2016 interview with pro triathlete Angela Naeth

Photo Credit: Aaron Palaian

Q: One of the things you’ve become known for is your strength on the bike. Can you give an example of what one of your favourite bike workouts looks like?

A: I love climbing and big gear workouts. If there’s any chance for me to ride uphill, I do it. Nothing special about that – just point your bike uphill and get to the top.. and repeat! ?

Q: What are 5 of your favourite training must-haves?

A: Redbull, Pearl Izumi cycling kit (best bibs ever!), my Scott bike and Shimano shoes/wheels.

Pre-Kona 2016 interview with pro triathlete Angela Naeth

Q: Being a foodie, I need to know: What’s your favourite post-race meal?

A: A large juicy burger!

Q: Let’s face it – you and Paul have definitely earned hot couple status in the world of triathlon, and both of you have put in some solid race performances. But this year, you’re the one who’s competing in Kona. Have you briefed him on all of his sherpa husband duties? ?

A: His main duty is to cheer loud and have fun! He’s been with me all year and knows how to support like no other. No further duties required!

Pre-Kona 2016 interview with pro triathlete Angela Naeth

Photo Credit: Aaron Palaian

Q: If you could give just one tip for each of the 3 triathlon disciplines to age groupers looking to become better long-distance triathletes (like me!) what would those be?

A:

  • Swim: Swim often and enjoy the process. Use tools if they help you enjoy swimming. The key is enjoyment first!
  • Bike: Ride where you love! and do epic stuff. Going for a 50-100miler or climbing a bypass will give you confidence and passion for being on two wheels like no other!
  • Run: I always try to run somewhere that allows me to soak in some greenery. Use it to clear your mind and enjoy each step of the way.

Pre-Kona 2016 interview with pro triathlete Angela Naeth

And there you have it! If you guys would like to give Angela a shout out and wish her good luck for Ironman World Championships in October, you can tweet her @angelanaeth or check her out on Facebook and Instagram. I’m already super excited to sit down in front of my computer on October 10th and watch the live streaming race coverage allllll day, and can’t wait to watch Angela dominate like she’s been doing all year long.

OK, over to you! Tell me…

  • Do you have any pro athlete role models that you look up to?
  • Anyone else getting crazy stoked to follow the race on October 10th? Even if you’re not a triathlete I highly recommend tuning in. It’s impossible to not be inspired!