'Zinc Out Loud!' with 3 twenty-something Timex professional triathletes
Lives: Boulder, CO
Timex Team Pro
A few badass accomplishments:
- Completion of 6 Ironman’s with a personal best of 8:29 (done at 20 years of age)
- Youngest male amateur to go to Kona at age 19
Zealios: So how did you get started in triathlon?
Sam Long: Oh that’s always a good story man! I only started about 4 years ago. Growing up I did a lot of sports, I was a big skier, played football and competed in swimming, but only the breaststroke.
April of my senior year I had a ski accident jumping off a cliff and I tore my ACL. I was running track at the time and thought I was pretty serious at running, but in hindsight you probably aren’t all that serious if you’re jumping off cliffs. So after the accident I couldn’t run for 6 weeks and that threw my track season. And that was the first year they had Ironman Boulder (in August) and I thought I’m gonna do that. So I had 4 months to train and I attacked it with precision and focus. It was rough, I was working a full time job that summer and was getting up at 4:30am to train. I did race and I ended up doing really well. I came in 6th for amateurs and 16 overall.
Z: Wow! Pretty crazy you only had 4 months to train for your first full Ironman.
So you huck yourself off cliffs and we’ve heard you’re a really good mountain biker. What do you do when you’re not training and racing triathlons?
SL: Well, I count mountain biking as training for triathlon, but in the winter I love skiing. I still jump off cliffs even though I shouldn’t... but they’re much smaller cliffs now. I like catching up with friends and reading. I’m always trying to learn something.
Currently I’m trying to launch my own personal training business and coaching.
Z: That’s awesome. You recently graduated college from University of Colorado, congrats. Being fresh out of college, do you feel like you manage a good balance between being a 22 year old and being a professional athlete or do you find that one of those takes over?
SL: That’s a really great question. To be honest, it’s really difficult. 22 year olds like to have fun and go out, that’s what all my friends do. I try my best to keep that balance.
I live in my parent’s basement right now and my mom is awesome. Some nights she’ll come down and say you’re not going to bed at 9pm, here’s $20 bucks go out on the town and don’t come back before midnight!
Z: Ha! That’s a pretty cool mom!
SL: After finishing an Ironman I usually give myself 2 weeks to let loose because I know I’m not going to be 22 forever. And I probably only have 2 more years to get away with being a hooligan.
But come a month out before a race you don’t see as much boozing.
Z: Well it sounds like you a have a good balance. And you’re right, you’re only 22 years old once.
Have you heard of Malcolm Gladwell and his 10,000 hour rule on how someone must engage in an activity for 10,000 hours to master any given task or activity?
SL: I am familiar with Malcolm and have read all of his books.
Z: So, if we look at all of your combined training and racing hours, how do you think you stack up to reaching that 10,000 hours?
SL: First off, I’ve often wondered if triathlon requires 30,000 hours since there’s 3 different sports.
I’m kind of a high volume guy and I sometimes get criticized for it but I see that as the only thing to help me catch up for my age. So I do a lot of longer days but at lower intensity.
So hours...I need a calculator!
[Sam literally grabs his phone to start calculating. See…]
SL: Okay, I train on average 30 hours a week for 50 weeks a year. And 4.5 years I’ve been in the sport means I’ve logged maybe 5,000 hours.
Z: At that rate you’re going to hit 10,000 hours around 25 or 26 years old. And that’s way ahead of the ‘triathlon curve’ that shows many triathletes peak around their early 30’s.
So, how does that make you feel about competing with those athletes that are much older than you and “in their prime”.
SL: It’s mixed feelings at times. First off, it’s a really cool sensation for me because I’ve looked up to these guys as an age grouper and looking them up online, well actually I still look them up! But it’s more of a competitive analysis these days.
It’s intimidating because anyone competing at my age is competing in a youth 23 category or in the NCAA and competing against others in the same age group. When I look at a start list, I never say I can’t beat anyone, but looking at some of the guys, I know the only way I’m going to beat them is if they have a bad race. If they’re on their game, it’s unlikely I’ll be able to beat them. It’s all about being patient.
Z: That’s smart. Everyone wants to go out and win races, but that might not be an achievable goal at this time.
What are some of your goals this season?
SL: I wanted to do well in XTerra, Ironman and half Ironman and cycling races. I want to win an XTerra. I want to be top 3 in Ironman this year. I wanted to be top 10 in St. George and I was 9th!
I do have this long term goal to run a sub 3 hour marathon in an Ironman. So far I’ve run a 3:03 and 3:01, so I’m close! I’m pretty determined I’ll get that at Ironman Whistler.
The other goal is to improve my swim to the point where I’m not way back in the pack and it’s coming along really well.
Also, since finishing school in December, I wanted to see the world and meet a lot of cool people. So far I’ve gone to Australia, traveling all over for races and I’m going to be living out of my truck for the next 5 weeks traveling to Ironman Whistler.
Z: That sounds amazing, traveling and meeting cool people is a great goal to have. What advice do you have with other young triathletes getting into the sport?
SL: I get a lot of DM’s from others asking how I’ve gotten to where I am. The hardest thing for me has been to learn to be patient and respect the process and love all the little details. Like what are you doing for sleep, nutrition and massage? Everything you do matters even though it may not show for 10 years!
Z: It’s awesome to see how you’re taking that process and growing. We love seeing you out at the races and watching as your career progresses.
As always, our last question, what is your favorite Zealios product?
SL: That’s tough. I have 2!
The Sun Barrier is great. I love the small tubes, it’s my favorite. It rubs in well and lasts a long time. I’m out there for 7 hours and I don’t have to reapply like I do with other sunscreen brands.
And Betwixt is by far the best chamois cream I’ve ever used. It even smells good! I accidentally ate it once and thought wow that even tastes alright.
Z: Well, we don’t recommend you eat it, but I’m glad you like it!
Thanks Sam! Always awesome catching up with you and good luck at Ironman Whistler!
Follow Sam @samgolong
Lives: San Francisco, CA
Timex Team Pro
A few badass accomplishments:
- 2017 Ironman 70.3 Texas - 1st Overall Amateur
- 2016 Ironman 70.3 World Championships - 2nd Age Group
Zealios: How did you get started in triathlon?
Laurence Delisle: I was competitively swimming for UCLA and during my 4th year I slipped walking to class and broke my shoulder. It was too late in the season and I couldn’t red shirt, so my swimming career was over. But I didn’t feel like I was done competing. Since my brother had competed at Kona several times, I talked to him and the tri team at UCLA and they seemed like a great group of people. I felt tri would tide me over and I fell in love with the sport and people.
I ended up being pretty good too. I got 2nd at Nationals and everyone was like “you should go pro!”. I don’t even know what I was doing! Eventually, my brother said I should go pro and I found Matt Dixon at Purple Patch Fitness and he said I needed wait to go pro. I was like, thank god!
Z: That’s really amazing, it is great to hear how people got started in the sport.
This is your first year as a pro. When we first met in person (eating delicious banh mi sandwiches in SF) you shared that you and Matt outlined goals you had to meet before going pro, what were those goals?
LD: One was to run injury free. That was really difficult for me coming from a swimming background. Also learn how to use my bike, things like handling corners and cresting a hill.
For the swim I had to develop more of a triathlon stroke. My stroke is completely different now.
Z: What kind of goals have you set for yourself in your first year as a pro?
LD: Two things: First, my coach said this season doesn’t have expectations. It doesn’t mean low expectations, it means just go and race. And I haven’t been able to do that, it’s really hard! You make these expectations for yourself when going amateur to pro.
Second, is a personal goal to be real to the people who follow me. I want to show the highs and the lows and the in betweens. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies. Just because I’m a pro I still have days I don’t want to the go to the pool. I love teaching and I’ve tried to integrate that into my social media.
Z: We have enjoyed your instagram and YouTube videos on swimming. I’m actually working on my flat back!
LD: Ha! Yes!
Z: It takes a lot to be a professional athlete. Besides the athletic side of being a pro what have you found as a surprise?
LD: Definitely, brand and marketing is a huge thing now days and sponsors look at that. You see some athletes who’s instagram is a marketing platform versus a real representation of who they are.
Nutrition also plays a factor into everything and I didn’t realize it. What you eat and how much. The things you put in your body are so important. How is this food going to help me get better or fuel me for the next thing or recovery. I’m much better at it now.
Oh and sleep! It’s really important.
Z: So do you have any advice for all the other young athletes who might be interested in trying triathlon?
LD: Start with a sprint and have fun! Also, get involved with your local tri community. If you don’t know your local tri community reach out to me and I’ll help!
The local teams will have wetsuits to borrow and people to go on runs with you. It’s supposed to be fun! And if you end up hating it you can walk away.
Z: Lastly, what’s your favorite Zealios product?
LD: Sun Barrier! It’s the only sunscreen that works and stays on for an entire triathlon.
Follow Laurence @laurencedelisle
Lives: Boulder, CO
Timex Team Pro
A few badass accomplishments:
- Recently took 1st place at the 2018 Challenge San Gil AND set the run course record
- 2017 Challenge Iceland 70.3 1st place
Zealios: How did you get started in triathlon and did you ever do other sports?
Justin Metzler: I started doing triathlons when I was 12 or 13 years old. My dad used to play football and used triathlons as a way to lose weight and stay active, so I began racing and training with him. But growing up I did play a lot of traditional sports like soccer, football, baseball and the sport I focused on the most was basketball. I’m a tall guy, 6’4” and always thought I was going to be in the NBA. But getting to high school and seeing how seriously competitive it was I stopped playing.
Z: Wow, so you’re 25 and have been racing for 11 years! You don’t really have the traditional path to triathlon, without a background in any or even one of the disciplines. Do you find that you gravity towards one of the disciplines or do you like all 3?
JM: You know, I was really green when I joined the sport and developed the skills to swim, bike and run and I like to think I’m a well rounded triathlete. Many people ask which one I like best and I say it changes as I focus on the one that I’m trying to improve in.
I think triathletes 25 years old and younger are going to be well rounded triathletes because like myself they’re pure triathletes and not runners, cyclist or swimmers.
Z: You’re right, you do hear of a lot of triathletes who have to drastically improve their swimming or cycling.
JM: The days of being an uber biker or a super strong swimmer are over and you’re seeing a general trend that if you’re not well rounded you’re not going to make it in the top 10. The gaps are just too big to only be competitive in one of the sports.
Z: You went pro at a really young age, how old were you?
JM: I raced amateur from 2006-2012. Then 2012-2013 I was a very competitive age grouper, but super young at 18. When I first started triathlons, it was just fun with my dad doing ‘long’ 6 mile runs where we ate gels and have a big breakfast. Ha! At 19 my focus and ability to train made me think I could take it to a higher level. My parents helped find me a coach and helped me with buying all the necessary gear.
So at 19 I turned pro. Looking back I was nervous, but I wasn’t being challenged by the age groupers.
Z: Very impressive, this is your 5th year as a pro and you only just turned 25. The sport of triathlon has grown and progressed as a sport so much and people are getting into the sport earlier. It’s fun to watch.
So what are or were your goals for the 2018 season?
JM: I wanted to be on the podium (top 5) at Oceanside and St. George and it just didn’t happen.
I raced Ironman Boulder with the intention to podium because I felt the fittest I’ve ever been and was in a good mental space. I think we messed up a few things a few weeks before race day and I just didn’t have it.
So I told my coach “all I want to do is feel good and race to my potential.” After Boulder I thought to myself, what do I need to do to feel good? I chose a smaller race in Mexico, Challenge San Gil and I was able to win.
Now I’m back training and tackling a full Ironman in Whistler and I don’t care about the outcome I just want the most out of my body. I want that to show on race day.
Z: Do you have any advice for young triathletes who are thinking about taking triathlons more seriously or anyone thinking of getting into the sport?
JM: Yes, hire a coach! It’s the biggest bang for your buck. Training and physical development is the most important thing for anyone starting triathlon and more impactful for someone younger. Hire someone to oversee your training program so you don’t over do it or under do it.
Z: And last, we gotta know what’s your favorite Zealios product?
JM: It changes by the season. In the winter, the Betwixt, that saves me when I’m on the trainer for hours.
It gets pretty warm in Colorado and skin cancer runs in my family so we have the Sun Barrier big pump at our door to lather up before going outside.
Z: Love it! Thanks for your time Justin. We’ll be cheering for ya at Ironman Whistler!
Follow Justin @bigmetztri