“At a certain point, if you haven’t been running the muscle are gonna not, like after so many miles. So, yeah, I mean, the second half, I went into the race knowing it was going to hurt like a ton, and I was pretty well mentally prepared for that. And yeah, I mean, I certainly slowed down but I refused to let it beat me down mentally or anything. So, I was in a really good headspace for that portion of the race at least.”
JESSE: Welcome to the smart athlete podcast. I’m your host, Jesse Funk. My guest today is a pro triathlete. He’s been racing since 2017 as a professional. He started much earlier than that actually racing. His focus is predominantly long course, I think he’ll tell us more about moving towards full Ironman instead of 70.3’s. And interestingly, he’s also an operating room traveling there’s Welcome to the show, Adam Feigh.
ADAM: Thanks, yeah,
JESSE: And then as you’re telling me before we got going you’re on baby duty today. I’ll say baby but she’s not really a baby baby.
ADAM: Yeah, she [??? 1:29] now.
JESSE: So, if you’re gonna pick her up, anybody watching on YouTube, the baby might come in frame. Don’t be distracted [??? 1:40] answer questions, in any case. Yeah, thanks for coming on. I know at least from my own training, I do about half the hours that you do now, things are always hectic. So, I appreciate you taking the time out of training schedule, and work to talk with me.
ADAM: Yeah, sure. There’s not a whole lot of training schedule right now. It’s that time of the year to really chill out.
JESSE: I kind of saw– It seemed like– Do you have another race in December, is that correct?
ADAM: That is– yes. I certainly won’t be in peak form for it but head on out to Indian Wells and see what happens in a half. I’m gonna try a few things in a block coming up, try to really get a good swim block in and yeah, see what happens on not perfect fitness.
JESSE: Yeah, so it’s kind of like an experimental test race almost.
ADAM: Yeah, I mean, even if you’re not completely 100% ready for a race, you can still learn a lot of things from it. I’ve certainly done more races than is necessarily ideal in the past couple of years to sort of get that learning curve out of the way and it’s worked. I’ve made a lot of mistakes and I’ve learned from a good amount of them. It doesn’t mean you can’t make the same mistakes again.
JESSE: Yeah, well you try your best. Yeah, it’s like, you do something– I mean, obviously you go into the race as a plan. It’s not like, you’ve never had done triathlon before. And then you figure out where things went wrong, the temperature was too high or too low or the humidity or whatever affected you and you’re like okay, I need to account for this other minute thing before the race. It’s all this big learning environment.
ADAM: Yeah, there’s so many factors that go into half and full distance racing that the more that you can mitigate and plan for is the better.
JESSE: Yeah, I know the very first half I did was at, Eagleman. I think you raced Eagleman this last year, early in the year.
ADAM: With a significantly better result this year than two years prior.
JESSE: Yeah. So, you know that course has zero shade and I was just unprepared for how much like a beating the sun was going to give you at that distance.I was absolutely toast. I ended up in a medical tent at the end after finishing because I was just dehydrated. I missed like a water bottle pick up. It was a total mess. I had to learn from there so I didn’t end up just crazy out of it by the end.
ADAM: Yeah, yeah, we got lucky this year with some nice cloud cover, rain and a ton of wind. So, it’s completely changed the race, really.
JESSE: Yeah. Do you– I mean, to deal with those things, what are you doing to prep? Are you thinking okay, we’re going to do, you know, if there’s going to be a windy course like I don’t know about ocean side. But I know like Santa Cruz is almost always going to be windy since it’s right next to the coast. Are you like all right, let’s do more like high power intervals, or are you do anything specialized to deal with those conditions? Or is it just let’s see what happens on race day?
ADAM: Yeah, I mean, the best way I think to approach most races is just to show up in the best fitness that you can so you can handle anything that the course throws at you. I mean, there’s some special circumstances like extreme heat or climbs where you’re really gonna have to grind out [??? 5:17] something. But generally, the best idea is to show up with your best fitness. And I have a coach that sort of plans everything for me. So, I mean, we talked about the best ways to go into races and such. But he’s generally the one that helps me make the smart decisions rather than going crazy in one direction and forgetting what the big picture is and what the most important thing leading into a race is, which is being the fittest and fastest person on the day as long as you [??? 5:52] other limiters that could pop up. Yeah, but as far as like wind or something, I mean, as long as you have appropriate gearing then you should be able to shift appropriately and you can handle a bike then it shouldn’t be an issue.
JESSE: Yeah, yeah. So, I mean, I know for me that having a coach takes a lot of weight off in terms of, you don’t have to try to figure out both inside your head, I don’t feel good or I do feel good. And then how do I incorporate them into workouts. How do you guys kind of figure out that? It seems like you have an almost like year round race calendar. There doesn’t seem to be like a whole lot of an off season. How do you guys cope with that and also still build forward, so you don’t like accumulate too much fatigue?
ADAM: Yeah. I mean, certainly having times where there’s like a little break in there, like right now for me, where there’s not a whole lot training to keep things fresh for when you are pushing hard. I mean, staying in pretty constant contact with each other so I can tell – how things are going Because I mean, sometimes I’ll be not training much and just sort of maintaining and things aren’t going well in other parts of my life and I need to back off or make sure you get more sleep. Or I can be training at my highest levels, and everything’s just clicking along perfectly. And we can even add more if we want to. So, I mean, stay in close contact. I sort of recognize some signs of when things aren’t going well or when they’re about to not go well and sort of using those. And I mean, I always have liberty to pull the trigger on like not doing a workout or– I’m relatively intelligent. I love the science part of the sport. So, it’s good in that respect. It’s bad in the respect that if I try to think that I know more than he does. But yeah, it’s not being afraid to back off when you need to, and over the years just sort of trying to learn the signs of doing too much. Yeah.
JESSE: Do you have any episodes where you thought you’re fine, you continue going– How is that progression for you in terms of kind of learning those internal signals where you’re figuring out, okay, like things are not right. And then if I continue going, we’re probably going to push an injury or overload or whatever.
ADAM: Yeah. The beginning of this year was a point where I probably learned the most as far as where things– I might not necessarily be injured or something but where I just wasn’t recovering. I wasn’t in a good headspace or whether over training lead to a negative mind space or a negative mind space leads to not properly adapting or not recovering well. But yeah, I definitely had the beginning of the year where I was sort of in and out of training and racing well. I mean, I showed up to a race in Mexico and I went into it just feeling beat down from work and the training wasn’t too strenuous, it was just the way I was reacting to it. And I wasn’t in a completely positive adaptation, basically I’ll say. But I just went into it feeling beat down and yeah, it showed pretty–
JESSE: Was that Campeche that you did?
ADAM: Yeah, it was Campeche. So, yeah, I mean the hard thing with my schedule now is a lot of times, especially if I don’t plan for a race prior to when I take a contract, I’ll have to stack all of my work hours before I go on a trip to earlier in the week. And if things don’t go perfectly smoothly, then not a great way to go into a race. So, I just sort of had a lot of stress. I mean, three flights to get to Mexico and then not knowing how to speak Spanish and–
JESSE: Like trying to get around, can’t talk to anybody. Were you by yourself? Did anybody travel with you?
ADAM: I was, yeah, I was by myself. So, it makes it easier and harder. I do like traveling by myself when I can, just cauz I can be a little bit more selfish or take care of yourself a little bit more. You don’t have to worry about other people’s plans or their needs. Which normally you want to be able to have fun, spend time with other people and there’s certainly time for that before races. But having that selfish attitude a little bit before the race is sometimes a good thing.
JESSE: Yeah, I mean, you’re kind of focusing on what you want to eat if you want to take a nap or whatever it is. I know I have kind of my own rituals pre-race and I often have a travel companion now and she kind of learned to just go with the flow because sometimes I’m right on schedule, whatever I want to do. And sometimes it’s like, no, I think we need to do it a little bit differently. So, yeah, not having to I’ll say negotiate with somebody else, even though that’s not actually the case can definitely be helpful.
ADAM: Yeah, but it’s also being alone the whole time. You know, you start to get wrapped up in your own thoughts too. So, it’s a double edged sword but, yeah being able to know how it affects you both ways it’s good.
JESSE: Yeah. So, I think I was reading on your blog you did Chattanooga, that was the most recent race, that was just two weeks ago now?
JESSE: And then you were in Wisconsin a few weeks before that. I seemed like you hadn’t realized or planned on doing two races quite that close together.
JESSE: So, how did that all play out because I think you said you felt like your legs were pretty trashed after Wisconsin and then going to Chattanooga, how did that– Walk me through that kind of like three week period or whatever that was?
ADAM: Yeah, it certainly wasn’t the ideal plan but I think it went well, relatively well for like how my prep was leading into them. So, the kicker, the thing that led into that happening was I went to Lake Placid to do that race. The other time where it was there shortly after the race I did in Ireland things didn’t go well. Things got a little stacked up between work and stress after that race, and then started having a little niggling injury in the hip. And then Lake Placid came, got [??? 12:45] there where my DI2 battery died, so I went into a very hilly bike course. So, I went ahead and pulled the plug on that one, which I didn’t really want to do. I don’t like DNFing a lot. But yeah, it did allow me the opportunity to add Wisconsin, which wasn’t too far out from that race. And then I was iffy on doing Chattanooga after that, since it was only three weeks after Wisconsin, but I have a lot of family in the southeast and I knew a lot of people going.
I like the race so I sort of gave myself some time after Wisconsin to make that decision. And yeah, I decided to go for it and then pretty much call that the end of my season at least as far as peaking goes. But yeah, I mean, leading into Wisconsin, that that nagging hip injury kept on like it maintained a lot. It didn’t really get worse. If I tried to run it would get worse. So, basically, I decided not to run. And that’s not the best plan leading into an Ironman. But it’s better to be lower in fitness than to show up injured and not be able to race. So, yeah, I mean, the month leading into Wisconsin I ran a total of I think it was like 20 miles. And it was like, I think basically like three, two or three mile runs in the [??? 14:23] leading into it. So, definitely not ideal and that made for my likes being completely trashed after the race.
JESSE: Yeah. I mean, what was some what’s the headspace there because I’ve done races I’ll say unprepared before like, early season stuff for like we talked about you’re not in peak fitness yet. But I think for at least, the average person or even not average person, going into an Ironman and saying, hey, let’s do all this, then run a marathon and we’re gonna have almost zero run – Obviously, that’s going to be tough on the head once you get to the run and your legs are like, I don’t want to do this. What’s going through your head as you’re in that marathon after you’ve already completed the other 112 miles or whatever at that point?
ADAM: Yeah, so for like a quick synopsis into Wisconsin, the swim went not quite as well as I hoped, but it doesn’t make a huge amount of time in the pool anyways and my biking, I mean, with my [??? 15:31] prior month I was able to bike a ton, or at least a ton more than I would normally be able to. So, I knew my bike fitness was good and I was able to ride pretty hard and luckily break a lot of people before we got to the run, which was the plan. And then actually getting off the bike I felt pretty good. Better than I’ve ever really felt in an Ironman getting off the bike, basically sprinting through transition. And the first half of the run it’s [??? 16:00] course, the entire first loop felt pretty, pretty easy, honestly. I mean, I maintain run fitness pretty well without having to do much running. At this point, I run naturally pretty well, but I knew what was going to happen. And it’s exactly what did happen. And it’s right after the first loop coming up on mile 14, that’s when the legs just started to completely die. I mean, I just didn’t have the muscular endurance for it. So, it didn’t matter how slow I ran the first half and I mean, I felt like the first half I ran pretty darn slow to try to mitigate that. But at a certain point, if you haven’t been running the muscle are gonna not, like after so many miles. So, yeah, I mean, the second half, I went into the race knowing it was going to hurt like a ton, and I was pretty well mentally prepared for that. And yeah, I mean, I certainly slowed down but I refused to let it beat me down mentally or anything. So, I was in a really good headspace for that portion of the race at least.
JESSE: Yeah. I think it’s good to do that kind of mental prep beforehand. I know I found myself over the years, sometimes on a run, and you’re just hurting really bad and you’re like, why am I doing this? And that obviously doesn’t help your psychology as you’re trying to go forward you have this negative spiral going on. So, that’s why I’m always curious, what’s going on everybody’s head just because I’ve been the weather’s the same for everybody, the course is the same. It’s our preparation and our mental preparation that varies. So, I’m always interested, are you saying positive affirmations to yourself? Is it just a natural mode of being where you’re like, this is just how it is, we’re just gonna suffer for a while?
ADAM: Yeah, I mean, it helped a lot to pretty much know what was going to happen. I knew that the entire race for me was just about going to be decided in the second half of that run, and that it was going to hurt. So, I mean, really Wisconsin ended up being hard swim and a hard bike ride. But I mean, it was relatively easy compared to that second half of the run. You could almost say it was like a half marathon race with a lot of fun stuff before it. I mean, if you’re doing things right in Ironman bike ride, if you’re well prepared, you shouldn’t be absolutely gutted, ideally. It should certainly be hard at times. But yeah, I just thought that ride was the most fun ride I’ve ever done in a full race or in a race in general.
JESSE: Yeah. It certainly doesn’t hurt to have fun. That’s like a really common theme I get with most of the men and women I speak to that race or do whatever they’re like it’s not just suffering. I do it because I have fun. And then if you can find that kind of, I’ll call it like lightning in a bottle in the middle of a race, usually you have a better day because you’re enjoying yourself instead of just being grinding it out just to finish. You did finish in the money in Wisconsin, I think, correct?
ADAM: I did. Yeah, I came in fourth. I ended up coming off the bike in second and then the eventual winner passed me at about mile six and he was strong all day for sure. I mean, especially on the run. I’d say he was the only one on the run that brought it home like he wanted to. But I think that’s [??? 19:45] firepower from the – And then a friend Kevin Portman passed me and got a few minutes on me by the end of the run as I was fading pretty much. But yeah, – paid top six. So, yeah, ended up getting some money from that one.
JESSE: Is that your– No, it’s not. Okay. I was gonna say is that your best full finish so far?
ADAM: It is as far as placement. Yeah, that’s the highest placement I’ve had in the full. I’ve gotten third in Eagleman 70.3 earlier this year, but yeah, general– Well, it depends on the race. But fulls are certainly hard to step onto that podium, which I’m hoping to next year.
JESSE: Yeah, for anybody that wants to go to Adams website, which we’ll plug here at the end and you can see his kind of places progressing from year to year. So, it wouldn’t be surprising to see you do that this next year.