- First Year
PB: How did you first get into the sport you are competing in?
VR: I currently compete as a professional triathlete since December 2022. In 2016, a close friend of mine raced an Ironman as a bucket list item. This was the first time I had ever heard of the sport. I had just started running and was training for my first marathon. As soon as I crossed the finish line, I told myself I wanted to do it all over again, but with swimming and biking beforehand. I had no prior experience in any of the 3 sports, but it sounded like such an epic challenge and this sport changed my life.
PB: At what point did you know you would be able to compete at a professional level, Was there a specific race or moment that stood out to you as a watershed event?
VR: Embarrassingly enough, I knew very little about the sport when I first started in 2017. I didn’t even know that it was something that you could do on the professional level. It was never a goal of mine. The goal was always to do my best and try to get on the podium as I’ve always been a very competitive person. I had been on the podium of every race I started for a few years consistently but in 2021 I started beating a few female pros which planted the seed in my head. I focused on my own races that year and figured that if it was meant to be it would happen. I had a fantastic year with the help of my coach and was able to get my elite license.
PB: What was that transition from amateur to professional like?
VR: Intimidating to be competing with women I’ve looked up to for the past few years. A little bit of impostor syndrome in that the vast majority of these women are younger than me and do this as their full time job, while for me this is a hobby. But it has taught me to focus more on my self improvement in the sport and how I can be a better athlete by comparing myself against myself versus looking for a specific result or ranking. It is also pushing me to dig deeper knowing that every second matters at this level.
PB: Professional athletes are known for their intensive training regimens. What does a typical week of training look like for you while in season?
VR: As I have a full time job, I can only devote 18-25 hours a week to training. My coach is very good at ensuring that every session has a specific purpose and that we are maximizing the benefits that I will get from all of these sessions. Consistency is key to getting better and so I make sure to make these workouts a priority, get a lot of sleep and recovery. I’ll typically swim 3-4 times a week, do strength training 1-2 times a week, cycle 3-4 times a week and run 4-5 times a week. I also see a massage therapist, physical therapist and chiropractor monthly to get ahead of any possible injury.
PB: Many recreational athletes see being a professional as a “dream job”. But even the best jobs in the world have their drawbacks. From your experiences, what do you see as the hardest part of being a professional athlete?
VR: As this is not my full time job, this is a harder question for me to answer. But even without it being my full time job, there is added pressure to perform well to keep your license and sponsors.
PB: Having good nutrition practices is a critical part of performing at your best as an athlete. How do you approach fueling yourself inside and outside of training?
VR: Nutrition is a key element to performing well. One can do all the perfect workouts in the world and not be able to perform well at a race if they fail to take in nutrition properly. Practice is key. I train with the same nutrition I race with. I get my body used to the exact amount, products and even flavours I will be using on race day. But nutrition doesn’t stop at only workouts, it continues post workouts in how we recover. I fuel my body with healthy foods, shakes and vitamins that will promote recovery and give me the energy that is needed to get after my next workout.
PB: Balance is an important term when considering all aspects of a professional athlete. How do you approach maintaining balance across the sport and non sport aspects of your life?
VR: Triathlon can be a very lonely sport and is extremely time consuming. I ensure that I meet up with friends a few times a week for a few workouts. This helps a lot with motivation and pushing each other to work harder. I make sure to set some time aside for other hobbies that I have and to see friends and family who are not in this sport. The key is being very organized and spending every minute of your day wisely.
PB: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received (and from who) that you feel is worth passing on?
VR: Don’t make any big decisions while you are on a high or a low. This was a former boss of mine who told me this. I like this advice because it applies to every aspect of our lives, be it professional or personal. In terms of how it applies to this sport, don’t decide to quit the sport or stop believing in yourself if you have a bad race. On the flip side, don’t get too confident and make an impulse decision because you’ve had a great race. Any big or life changing decisions should always be made with a lot of thought into it and not only emotionally based.