Here is my pretty recent interview with the legendary XTerra Triathlete Conrad Stoltz. His responses were so excellent and eloquent that I decided to just publish the whole lot word for word! (This was an e-interview since I live in QUITE the different time zone!)
Make sure you check out Conrad’s Blog at http://www.conradstoltz.com/. He’s an excellent writer and I’m sure no one will contest that he’s worth listening to! Anyway, lets get down to it:
What does your training consist of?
If I tell you that, Id have to shoot you. Seriously, here it is: http://www.conradstoltz.com/a-short-story-about-my-training/
Can you recommend any specific type of training for newbie triathletes?
Definitely stay away from quality training. Its a widely known fact that aerobic training (under 75% max) shows the most benefit in endurance sports and general fitness. Unfortunately newbies love to smash it and often manage to do themselves in. The overtraining leaves them despondent an they lose interest in the sport
Even as a world class athlete, I tread very lightly when it comes with quality. Too much high intensity training is a great way to throw away a season.
Just have fun. Too many people get caught up in results and times.
Do you have a specific Diet for training or racing?
“If you can dig it out of the ground, pick it from a tree or if it runs around on feet or hooves, or swims in the ocean, its probably good for you. If it comes from a factory, I usually wont eat it.” Thats a Caveman-ism. The mainstay of my in season diet is potatoes.
Another Caveman-ism: “High speed, low air, big gear, no fear.”
How did you go from an Age-Grouper to a Pro?
I went from high school scholar to pro! I was a really promising athlete as a school boy- often winning local triathlons overall. (I was 3rd overall at SA Champs in Mykonos (1990 I think) when I was 16)
Conrad in his new kit the day before the XTERRA World Championship. Many thanks to Rich Cruse for the photo!
How did you first get sponsored?
It was an uphill battle. Especially in South Africa in the 90s. I was a shy Afrikaans boy, and back then sponsorship was reserved for rugby, cricket and Nick Bester. As an Olympian (in Sydney I broke away on the bike, and ran in 2nd till 7km) and 5 time SA Triathlon champion and also 5 time All African champion and I could barely make a living. I earned R4000 a month in 2000 - back then about $500 US – which is why I decided to race in the USA. (During the 90s I raced 6 summers in France, but countless injuries and overtraining hamstrung my performances)
In the US I could make what was to me a “fortune” just from prize money alone. My 1st full season in the US, I was unsponsored, and made $55 000 in prize money. Ok, it was my best season ever- but I couldnt have imagined that kind of money in my wildest dreams. During my 1st 10 years as a pro I lived form hand to mouth, slept in train stations, police stations (Life On the Road) bought used bikes from Simon Lessing and other pros, lived off cereal out of the box when traveling. The Rand was really weak and racing the ITU circuit was really global.
To get sponsored: I won XTERRA Worlds in 2001 and went from almost completely unsponsored, (I have been with Oakley since 93) riding borrowed bikes, to full sponsorship – my uniform was completely sold out! Thats the tough part about triathlon. The no 1 athlete gets it all, and the no 8 guy has to work part time and use old equipment to scrape by.
I wish it was more like golf- at least all the pros should be able to cover their expenses.
Can you explain the difference between a normal road tri and an Xterra? Also, why did you choose Xterra?
The training and effort of an XTERRA is similar to a 70.3. You have to pace yourself well during the race, and the training is more aerobic and strength based than Olympic distance racing.
Of course there is the skill factor. And the fear factor. And the fun factor. I’ll never be able to race on the road again. Its just too boring. (Understand I have been racing on the road from 1988 to 2004)
What is your favorite race?
XTERRA Richmond Virginia
What made you start with “29ers”? Can you explain that initiative?
A “normal” MTB wheel is 26″, and a 29er is 29″- the same as a 700c road bike. Someone at Specialized said I would like the 29er. I tried one and fell in love right away. It was a heavy, middle end specced bike, but I loved it none the less and hopefully I can help create a pro level racing 29er.
The larger wheel rolls better over rough terrain because the approach angle it smaller. It also has a larger footprint which means more traction etc. The way the bike handles generally gives riders more confidence on the downhills.
Read more about my view on 29ers here: http://www.stoltz29er.org/
How is your family life and how do you balance training / competing with family life?
I spend 2-3 months on my parents farm in Mpumalanga in the off season. I love it there. I’m an only child, so being away for so much is hard on my folks. My dad is a cattle farmer and my mom renovates old houses and serves on the ITU.
Traveling so much and living out of a bag is tough on relationships. Amber (my girlfriend – Amber Monforte ) is a nurse here in the US and we train quite a bit together. She races XTERRA, IM and won Ultraman in just over 25 hrs this summer.
What are your plans for the future?
Win a few more XTERRA world titles. I would love to become more involved in product R&D. I have been lucky enough to be quite involved with Specialized. I have done a lot of tire testing over the last 3 years and helped test the current Specialized Epic while it was still in production. My favourite is the Avia AVI Stoltz I designed. A great honour.
Blogging. During the best month this summer I had about 12 000 hit on www.conradstoltz.com. For now I dont get paid to do it, but I think there is a great future in blogging. I love writing and taking pictures. I have many many great stories and would like to write an autobiography someday.
I would love to spend most of my time in SA and travel to the US during the summers to consult.
Do you have any tips for budding Triathletes? Something maybe you wish someone would have told you. Or specifically for the swim, bike, run transitions and equipment?
Make sure you enjoy the whole process. That way it will become a lifestyle.
I think thats one of the reasons why I have such a long career. I really enjoy whet I do. I haven’t overtrained in more than a decade, and apart from some trauma injures, I havent really been injured. If you are not enjoying it, you are probably doing something wrong. Too tired & bad mood? You are probably training too hard. Too nervous before races? You are taking it too seriously. Relax, breathe, enjoy it, its only sport.
Swim: Have an expert fix your swim stroke. Make sure to have frequent follow up to make sure the good technique becomes ingrained. Otherwise you will just be a really fit slow swimmer. (like most triathletes)
Bike: The more hours in the saddle, the faster you get. (within limits)
Run: Have the right genes! Otherwise, how many years can you string together without major injuries, interruptions or overtraining?
Periodization. Have a clear plan of when you take time off. ( I take 2-3 months “off” -maybe 4- 6 hrs a week instead of 22-25 during training season) Plan clearly when you’ll do base training, when to add some intensity (you need less than you’d think) and when racing season is.. You cant be fit, fast, lean and motivated all year long. It physically impossible and i bet you’ll start hating it after a while.
Jama cereal and drink mix
As you can tell, Conrad has a passion for XTerra like no other and also quite a talent for writing! Don’t forget to check out ConradStoltz.com!
Conrad is also part of a “virtual Triathlon team” at TriathlonTeam.org along with other Pro Triathletes including Aleksander Sorensen-Markovic, Dan Hugo, Dejan Patrcevic, Fraser Cartmell, Gavin Noble, Igor Nastic and Will Clarke. Do take a minute to check out their sites!
I hope you enjoyed my interview with Conrad. Do YOU have any questions for him? Do you have a burning question you’d love a Pro Triathlete to answer? Post below!