Triathlon Tough

Posted in: Strength And Endurance  on Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Fit Beauty Amy Lynn Anderson reveals her training and diet secrets.

Fitness was never Amy Lynn Anderson’s goal. While she is blessed with a great figure and a beautiful face, her true focus is on what she can make that body do athletically rather than how it looks while doing it.

Anderson was never really into organized sports in high school or college. But the coaches definitely noticed her natural ability and often wished she would try out for their various teams. Instead, Anderson swam, cycled and surfed for the pure joy of it.
However, this changed a few years back while making the rounds as a buyer for a sportswear firm. Anderson attended a huge fitness clothing expo and instantly gained the attention of those in the industry. Hearing comments such as: "What are you doing as a buyer? You should be modeling!" and "You oughta be in pictures, kid," the then twenty-two -year-old Anderson just couldn't resist investigating it further.

"I've been active my whole life,” Anderson says, “and even though I had never wanted to compete in a formal fitness competition, I had been into exercise forever! After enough of that kind of feedback from people in the industry, though, I actually started to train with weights to cultivate more of the true fitness model look so I could give it a go."

Many appearances in magazines and ads later, (Anderson has appeared in American Curves, Pump, Hardcore Muscle, Corvette Fever, 5.0 Mustang, Hot Bike, Tilly's clothing ads and Reef ads, as well as having her own motorcycle poster), her next step seemed a natural progression.

"It's nice to look good in print and it certainly helped carve a niche for me in terms of work, but I needed another outlet. After I had my son, Remington Daniel, who's now three, I started talking to a stay-at-home mom in our neighborhood who encouraged me to join the triathlon club at the YMCA. I initially joined for just nine weeks and I've been a member now for a little over a year. It's a huge part of my life at this point, and a kind of continuation of my love of exercise, so it's been a natural next step for me."

It doesn't hurt that Anderson's husband of four years is a marathon runner and has helped her immensely.

"I've also had a lot of help from the club and from pairing up for partner training with some of the older women who do triathlons and marathons. They're just downright amazing and kick my butt. I can run average 9.5 minute miles, but they're running 8 minute miles!" Anderson says.

Currently, Anderson is training for her first full marathon — the Long Beach Marathon in October. To date, she's already completed a couple of sprint triathlons, and a half marathon. Quite impressively, she finished sixth in her first sprint tri (5k run, 1000m swim, 12 mile bike) and took just nine weeks to prepare herself for that inaugural event!

"We usually prepare in nine week cycles, but luckily, I didn't need more than one cycle of training to prepare," says the green-eyed blonde.

As for preparations, triathletes and marathoners train and eat much differently than bodybuilders or fitness athletes. In fact, Anderson says she couldn't hack the kind of diet required to be in either of the two sports. "I like my carbs too much and I like condiments. Doing what I do, I can have both, so it seems to suit me to a T!"

Triathlon Preparation and Training
In the off season, Anderson indulges any kind of exercise she wants. She loves to surf, cycle, run and swim. Good thing that three out of the four are triathlon-based movements.

Anderson shuffles her training schedules based on upcoming competitions. She maintains about three varying schedules, authored by her in-club tri coach, and keeps them online to follow them closely.

A sound off season schedule, leading into a competition:
Road bike twice a week.
Swim twice a week.
Run twice a week.

Mileage/distance, pace and other factors change based on the event. August 16th marked the beginning of her nine week full marathon training for Long Beach.

Based on the fact that individual metabolism varies from person to person, it's always difficult to dictate diet to the masses. As infuriating as it may be to hear, Anderson was blessed at birth and continues to be blessed with a lightening speed, inferno of a body furnace. However, because of that she must make sure that she eats enough to fuel what she wants her body to do. Cycling 12 to 20 miles a day or running 3 to 10 miles demands calories to support that activity. However, being a performance/endurance athlete has its distinct advantages to regular folk who struggle with diet and minimal exercise.

That said, Anderson is quick to add that she still does count calories and eats much less than you may imagine. Typically, it's anywhere from 1,800 to 2,400 calories per day.

"I actually count calories to ensure I get enough each day. I've always run the risk of being too lean, and when it comes to performance, that doesn't cut it!"

[Author's Note: Where was I when God passed out the metabolic goodies? And by the way, I was particularly enamored of Anderson's dedication to theme eating regimens, such as "Cookie Night" on Sundays and the "Tuesday Pasta Night" she attends with other tri queens in the club and neighborhood. Mission Viejo sounds like a pretty neat place]

Training for triathlons and marathons necessitates a certain type of eating, but it doesn't necessarily follow that it's rigid. It requires certain important elements, such as plenty of minerals, electrolytes, adequate carbohydrate loads and sufficient fluid intake.

Sample Off Season Diet
Breakfast: Bowl of apple cinnamon oatmeal w/ banana and Dr. Barry Sears' Juice Plus to drink.
Snack: A large Gatorade and Triscuits.
Lunch: Tuna sandwich or turkey breast sand with mustard and no mayo
Snack: Powerbar (before dinner and 30 min prior to run)
Dinner: Sushi, steak or chicken (occasionally pizza) and a salad with garbonzo beans and broccoli. Veggie Juice Plus to drink.

There are a few things Anderson is very strict about. One is the absence of dairy in her diet (as it causes too much lactic acid build up and affects performance), the absence of caffeine and soft drinks, and a commitment to eating every two to three hours.

Sample Diet One Day Prior to An Event
Breakfast: Bagel, Gatorade and Juice Plus.
Snack: Powerbar or Pro Media Bar (cookies n' cream), 
one gallon of water throughout the day.
*Then she begins to carbo-load from 3 until 6pm with pasta, pizza and cheesecake.

“In fact, we have parties (Long Beach is having a carb-loading party the night before the marathon) or we go out to Olive Garden and gorge on salad, bread and pasta”

Anderson says that, as in training, there is a lot of teamwork in eating, too. "We may eat until we're ready to burst, but we all sit there and chat for three hours and want the best for each other because it's not about competing against anyone, just with yourself."

Anderson’s Top 5 Tri Training Tips
1. Find support group or trainer to guide you
2. Buy really good running shoes — get fitted with right shoe by a store specializing in runner's feet. This makes all the difference when it comes to minimizing injury and blisters!
3. Nutrition is important. Get guidance from someone who does triathlons or marathons. You need to know more about how to fuel your body and learn about your own personal needs.
4. Always have a partner — 80 percent of people stick with it when they do. It will help motivate you as well as give you someone to exchange information with.
5. Have a routine and be consistent and dedicated. Make it a priority or you won't succeed

Along with juggling working for her husband's business, tending to a 3 year old, making appearances and doing photo shoots, along with tri/marathon training, Anderson is also a student at UC Irvine, majoring in Exercise Science.

"It always baffled me," Anderson says, "that people know more about car engines than they know about their own bodies. I was so fascinated by that fact, I think I just had to find out why!"