Last week I had the opportunity to spend an entire weekend working out along side four time World Ironman Champion, and current world record holder, Chrissie Wellington at the Muscle Milk Fitness Retreat and Oakley Learn to Ride at Shore Club in Miami. Intimidating? To say the least. Not only were we attending yoga classes, personal training sessions, and stand up paddle boarding classes side by side, but Chrissie led an hour long cycling class followed by a run on the hot, hot, hot Miami boardwalk. It was intense!
As an editor at SHAPE I have the privilege of interviewing pro athletes all the time. I even get to work out with their trainers but this was my first time actually exercising side by side with a world-class athlete. I learned so much more about what it takes to be a top competitor through this first hand experience than I could from a hundred interviews.
Here are three things I learned working out alongside a world record holding IronWOMAN!
1. Go longer, go harder
When Chrissie led our Cannondale cycling class, we did intervals of high and low intensity, which was incredibly challenging for a non-cycler like me. Each time she’d countdown, ‘three, two, one, and slow it down,’ I’d be all the way at my rest pace the second the ‘o’ in ‘one’ entered her mouth. Chrissie, on the other hand, pushed hard all the way through for just a few seconds past the moment she told us to slow down. And this seemed to be true of everything. There’s no slacking off until it’s over when you’re a champ.
2. Be a morning person, it’s a must
The morning after the Muscle Milk Fitness Retreat and Oakley Learn to Ride ended I decided to get up early to work by the Shore Club pool before my flight. Who’s the first person I see? Chrissie Wellington coming back from her a.m. swim session in the ocean. Next thing I know she’s doing pushups on the poolside furniture. And our last conversation went a little something like this:
Me: I’m not a morning person
Chrissie: (laughs) Don’t become a triathlete!
Looks like scheduling and self-motivation are a must!
3. Admit what you’re not good at and do it anyway
Chrissie killed it on the bike and left me in the dust on our run but she definitely struggled with some of the yoga poses and strength training moves we learned at the retreat, and she was the first person to admit it. A lot of people might move to the back of the class, or skip exercises that are too challenging but time and again when instructors gave her an out the record holding Ironman said, “no, this is good. I need to work on this.” Being a champ isn’t just about being good at what you do, it’s about overall physical mastery.
Left: Chrissie leads her first ever spin class on the Cannondale SuperSix elite road bike. Check out her interval cheat sheet!
Right: This bike might be too good for a novice like me. Nothing like having a world record holding Ironman jump off her bike in the middle of class to help you out.