TJ Tollakson, Professional Athlete

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By Lateefah C. Viley

1. How did that first win in Kirksville, MO feel? Did it seem surreal?

Winning for the first time was absolutely amazing. I didn’t go into the race expecting to win but thought I had a chance. Without question it was one of my best performances because once I was in the lead out of the water I was racing for the win and winning always brings out the best in me. After this first win I really gave some consideration to the possibility of turning pro. I thought if I could win a race on my current training, how fast will I be if I take my training up a notch?

2. What is your current exercise routine? How often?

A big training week for me is about 30 hours of actual workouts and would include about 25,000 meters swimming, 300 miles of cycling, and 50 miles of running. I am working out 2-3 times everyday. My nutrition is so important when I am training because I need to consume from 5,000 to 10,000 calories a day depending on my training. EAS has been a critical part of my exercise routine providing me with the necessary fuel and supplements to not only make it through my rigorous training schedule but thrive while training and make sure I recovery quickly and can train just as hard tomorrow.

3. What foot injuries are common among triathletes?

A lot of triathletes have plantar fasciitis, and stress fractures. These are common injuries because triathletes tend to weigh a bit more than the average runner and they are logging big miles on tired legs.

4. When you were competing did you have any foot injuries?

I’ve had a stress facture in my left foot a couple of times and was forced to take some time off of running to let it heal.

5. How many miles do you have to run in a triathlon? How many miles on the bike? Do you know if the distances are the same for women?

I compete in Olympic Distance and Half Ironman Distance races. The Olympic distance race includes a 10K (6.2 mile) run and the half ironman distance includes a half marathon (13.1 mile) run. Women compete at the same distance as men. The bike portion of an Olympic distance event is 40K (24.8 miles), and a half ironman bike portion is 56 miles. There is a new series of races this year called Ironman 70.3 which is sponsored by the Ironman brand. The race is named after the cumulative distance of the race in miles and is exactly one half of the usual Ironman distance event. A 70.3 race is a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and a 13.1 mile run. The new series will conclude with the Ford Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Clearwater, FL, on November 11, 2006.

6. Do you wear the same footwear for your bike race and run? Do you feel that wearing the right footwear is important?

I wear cycling shoes on the bike that are designed to be attached to the pedal and provide a stiff sole to ensure a pure transfer of power from my foot to the pedal. I transition to running shoes (racing flats) for the run portion of the race to allow for a lightweight performance running shoe to increase my speed.

7. Do you wear orthotics while competing?

I do not wear orthotics while competing but I do use an engineered foot bed in my cycling shoes to help support my arch and keep my toes from “falling asleep”. I train with a pair of custom carbon arch supports in my running shoes to provide more cushioning in my arch area and prevent plantar fasciatis.

8. Do you have any suggested exercises for your feet, ankles or lower legs in order to maintain strength and prevent injury?

I enjoy getting my feet massaged after a tough day of running. I broke my fibula about an inch above ankle in high school playing soccer so I am always stretching out my ankles doing small circles inward and outward to help stretch out the ligaments and tendons. Stretching your calf muscles plays an important roll in keeping your feet happy and healthy ensuring proper blood flow muscle recovery. Make sure you properly replenish your fuel after a workout with a recovery drink like Myoplex or EAS Race Recovery to refuel your body with the necessary protein so you can take optimal advantage of the training you just completed.

9. Do you have any advice for young or up-and-coming triathletes in terms of foot health or footwear?

Train in comfortable well supported shoes on the run, not necessarily the latest and greatest of the footwear industry’s gimmicks. Use a solid arch support in your training shoes to be proactive about injury prevention. Stretch your legs and ankles on a regular basis. When your feet are sore have someone massage them and apply ice. You need to be proactive about foot health because you depend on your feet to get you through all of your training as a triathlete. Take care of your body so you can train and race at your best. Thank you!

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