A new year brings a new member to Team Zealios, meet Eric Lagerstrom, a 30 year old professional triathlete and part-time #vanlifer. We Zinc Out Loud! with Eric on how to enjoy the off season and he shares some thoughts on how to deal with the ongoing stress of being a pro athlete and juggling life.
First, some quick background on Eric...
Eric jumped into the triathlon scene as an early teen and completed his first full professional season in 2013. By 2014, he was placing in the top five in Continental Cup races and in 2015 he won Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon and Beijing International Triathlon back-to-back which had never been done. Eric is racing mostly 70.3 triathlons these days while traveling around with partner and fellow triathlete Paula Findlay.
Zealios: Hey Eric, we're so excited to have you join Team Zealios and introduce you to our fans. How is the off season going for you?
Eric Lagerstrom: It’s going stellar. I’m halfway through building out my Sprinter van and I’m about to head to Canada for some backcountry skiing.
Z: What does an off season look like for you?
EL: It looks like the exact opposite of on-season. No training and no structure. Off season is basically all of my Saturdays from the whole year lumped into one month. Since pro triathletes don’t have weekends off.
Z: Do you take a period of time where you don’t allow yourself to do anything training related?
EL: I take two weeks off minimum. Except I’ll still go for bike rides with friends if I get invited and/or if the route is epic. That doesn’t count as training in my book.
Z: Do you have any tips for athletes when it comes to winning the off season?
EL: Let yourself miss training a bit and get bored. Just resist the urge to do exercise out of boredom and do something else you’ve been putting off all year.
Z: Looking back on 2019, another season of 70.3’s under your belt, can you describe your 2019 season in 5 words?
EL: Ouch, tired, YouTube, finished strong
Z: You wrote that you’ll ‘remember this season as the one that taught me the power of managing stress,’ what made this such a challenging season?
EL: The biggest source of stress is probably that I bought a house in December of last year. I’m 30 now and I wanted to have a “home base” instead of perpetually renting. The increased financial responsibility, and realizing I still needed to rent spots for winter training, world champs recon, etc., just made every race and every workout a bit more stressful. I don’t do well with that type of stress. I perform best off of the “it’d be so awesome if I was able to do_____.” mindset.
Z: Stress is something that most athletes deal with, do you have any advice on how athletes can try and manage stress better?
EL: Be realistic about what you can actually do. I tend to take on a bunch of additional commitments, both with my time and money, when I’m feeling rested. Then a day later when I’m tired, I’m feeling overwhelmed. I’d say, simplify things in your life so that they don’t seem insurmountable when you’re tired.
Z: After a challenging season, you were able to take 2nd at Indian Wells 70.3 (and not get rabies). Describe how it felt to end the season on a high note?
EL: It was a huge relief. There were definitely a few moments through this season, admittedly under some heavy fatigue, where I wondered “Am I even good at this anymore...?” So to have a race like that is really the perfect bit of ego boost to feel like working really hard during the winter is worthwhile.
Eric being chased by a dog on the course of the IRONMAN Indian Wells 70.3 race in late 2019 where he took 2nd place. Photo via @justinlau
Eric took 2nd at IRONMAN Indian Wells and gf Paula Findlay took 1st for the women. Photo via @trikate_
Z: We’ve really enjoyed following your travels and training on your YouTube channel. A lot of the videos are based around your #vanlife, what made you choose to/want to live the van life?
EL: I love projects, and vans are great never ending projects. I also grew up camping with my family in Yellowstone, so being in nature feels right to me.
Honestly, it just fits my lifestyle though. With Paula, we need to spend days outside training, we have multiple bikes, we need to road trip to training camps, it’s just the most functional, awesome vehicle.
We're really big fans of Eric's videos and even sponsored a video in his series "That Triathlon Life", check it out!
Z: In doing some research we noticed you leveled up in the van world this year. You retired the Sayonara Mitsubishi Delica and settled into a Sprinter. Do you choose the van or does the van choose you?
EL: The Delica was way cooler, let’s be clear about that. The Sprinter was just necessary because of its increased size, reliability, and A/C. But I do love it now and it’s my baby.
Z: Does your van have a name?
EL: The van. My classic RV is named Eleanor though. (Before the Delica)
Z: What were some of the top training places your van visited in 2019?
EL: St. George, Banff, Kelowna and San Diego. West coast best coast!
Z: It’s a new decade and another season is about to start, do you have any New Year's resolutions?
EL: I don’t really have an official resolution, but my goals for 2020 are to win a couple races, do a couple special projects like the Overland Triathlon, and put as much good energy into the sport as I can.
I just want to build a big enough platform with my racing and YouTube that I can have a big impact with some big dream ideas.
Z: What races can we plan on seeing you at?
EL: I’ll be at Oceanside, Mt Tremblant, Coeur D'Alene and World Champs.
I’ve got more, but those are the ones I have special feelings for. I plan on doing a gravel race of some sort as well.
Z: Those are some great races. We’ll be out at a few and look forward to cheering you on! Last but not least, what is your favorite Zealios product and why?
EL: That’s such a hard one! My gut reaction is Betwixt chamois cream, but I use the Shampoo every day. One is a life saver and the other is a serious life enhancer haha!
Now that's a man serious about his chamois cream!
Z: Ha! Cheers to a healthy and fun 2020! We’re stoked to have you on the team.
Follow Eric at:Twitter: https://twitter.com/Elagerstrom