What’s violet and fearless?
Rachel McBride, AKA the Purple Tiger, Zealios’ newest 2018 supporting professional athlete, that’s what!
We sat down to get to know more about Rachel and mooch some spring training advice including her favorite swim technique and drill.
“By the time the holidays come around I’m $#@*ing ready to just sit on the beach and drink margaritas at noon.”
An Ironman champion, course record holder and biking beast, Rachel has competed among top professional triathletes since 2011. Rachel calls Vancouver, BC home and puts her Genetic Counselor board-certification and two graduate degrees in genetics to work in the sexual health education sector. Also add an accomplished cellist, speaks German, rainbow colored hair and tattoos to her list and you start to understand the dubbed “most interesting woman in triathlon” label she’s received and embraces.
Interview note - just an hour prior to our interview, Rachel crushed a 2 hour swim workout...
Zealios crushed a ham sandwich...
Zealios: How’s your spring training going?
Rachel McBride: Great! Getting close to my first Ironman of the season at the African Championship in South Africa. I’ve gained a solid amount of training volume and traveled to two training camps in California and Arizona. Feeling really good and ready to start my taper.
Psst… Ironman South Africa takes place April 15th in the city of Port Elizabeth which is South Africa’s second oldest city and the race takes place in Nelson Mandela Bay. Should be a beautiful and exciting race!
Z: What is your ideal length of training leading up to the season?
RM: For me taking large amounts of time off seem to leave me prone to injury. I typically take 2 weeks off at the end of the year and come January I’m back at it. By the time the holidays come around I’m $#@*ing ready to just sit on the beach and drink margaritas at noon. Also, during the holidays I like to focus on family and it’s easy to fill up my time.
Z: Margs at noon, now you’re talking! What about tacos?
RM: Really any of the foods I’m not allowed to eat during training season like dairy, ice cream, red meat, burger, milkshake. I mean, I still have a beer or glass of wine a couple times a week, but leading up to a race I make major restrictions.
Z: So, South Africa! Are you worried about animals like Lions or Tigers?
RM: Ha! Animals are the least of my worries. People are often more dangerous. My brother is joining me and we have a safari planned so hopefully we’ll see a few animals.
Z: So Tigers, that leads nicely into asking about your nickname, The Purple Tiger. Is it your spirit animal?
RM: Well, I guess it has developed into my spirit animal. I do have a strong affinity to cats.
Actually, it came about back when I was a punk rock kid in Berlin. My hair was part shaved and dyed a zebra-like pattern, well that was what I was going for anyhow. One a day a little girl saw me and said, “Schau Mama, eine Tigerlady” (translated to “Look mom, a tiger lady”). My girlfriend thought it was funny and so it began.
The nickname has allowed me to express myself more than in my genetics career and school. As a full-time athlete, I can be my own person and not censor myself and hide my tattoos.
When Wattie Ink asked what we should do for my first kit, it was easy to continue on with the Purple Tiger theme. I really love that it’s a fun character I can play around with.
“Taking this [Tower 26] approach is helpful as it simplifies the complexity of swimming for many who don’t come from a swim background.”
Z: Speaking of Wattie Ink, you were recently down in Tuscan with Chris Bagg and the crew for the Wattie Ink Training Dream Camp. It looked like a great time and following along on Instagram we saw everyone hit the pool for some intense training. What’s your go-to swim drill to ramp for the season?
RM: I follow the Tower 26 swim program which focuses on three principles of the stroke - tautness, alignment and propulsion.
In December and January I’m focused on technique work for those three components. Taking this approach is helpful as it simplifies the complexity of swimming for many who don’t come from a swim background. I also suggest using a snorkel because it eliminates the breathing component so you can focus on your stroke.
Try this swim drill:
Kick (full effort - 10 stroke max) - 50 meters
Swim (recover/easy effort) - 50 meters
Repeat for 10 sets
Tip: When kicking, trying to keep your body as still as possible to engage your core. Really fast all out little pieces help focus on the tautness in your body.
Check out the The Tower 26 podcasts #3-36. They go over the fundamentals.
Z: Podcasts, we love podcasts. If you were to create and host a podcast what would it be about?
RM: I’ve actually kind of thought about this question before. I’m not a big talker and I’m usually a quiet person so my podcast might turn out to be a nightmare, but I would probably go in a sports psychology direction. I like talking to people about mental strength in sports and endurance racing. I find that really fascinating.
Z: We would listen to that! Who would be your first on-air guest?
RM: Courtney Dauwalter, who recently won a 240 mile ultra trail race in Moab, UT. She came in first overall beating the entire field by several hours.
I’ve heard interviews with her talking about how she’s gone completely blind or hallucinates during a race. I wonder what it takes to do something like that and keep racing. Her feats are completely fascinating.
Psst… we also think Courtney Dauwalter is a badass, check out the Trail Runner Magazine article, Courtney Dauwaler Wins Moab 240.
Z: And last, we’d love to know what your favorite Zealios product and why you love it.
RM: I’ve been joking since coming back from my training camps that my sunscreen is working too well and it doesn’t look like I’ve been away. The Sun Barrier sunscreen is hands down my favorite product. I’ve spent monthly in the sun with barely a tan which means it works really well. The fact that Sun Barrier is non-greasy is important to me because I don’t want it all over my suit or hinder my ability to hold water when swimming.