Pro Knows Best
Words of tri wisdom from Aussie Pro, Mitch Robins
After his back-to-back win at Tri United 1 last Sunday, Australian pro triathlete, Mitch Robins, along with his good friend and rising age group star (he also finished first in Men’s 40 to 44), Nuno Romao, were gracious enough to join us for post-race lunch at Meat Plus inside Subic Bay Freeport. These guys eat, sleep, and breathe the sport so having the opportunity to talk triathlon with them over a recovery meal was priceless. Here’s what I’ve learned during the one and a half hours or so that we spent chatting over lunch.
1. Pro racing is different from age group racing. Pros race for a living so their main goal is to win, which is why it’s more about tactical racing and strategising for them rather than trying to hit a certain time goal. According to Mitch, racing is more like a chess game for them because the goal is to cross the finish line first. Sometimes, they ride at a slower pace than what he can manage because they have to watch each other’s moves. But at the end of the day, the athlete who is able to execute the best game plan wins. Talking about his race experience at Tri United 1, during the swim, instead of exerting extra effort to reach the shore first, he opted to stay in the lead pack and just draft behind one of the strong swimmers. Unless he gets a prize for winning the fastest swim split, there’s no reason for him to expend unnecessary energy overtaking the group. After all, the race ends after the 10K run, not after the 1.5K swim.
2. Home-court advantage makes a difference in a technical course. Mitch and fellow Aussie, Lachlan Kerin matched each other’s pace on the bike but because Mitch lived in Subic for a while and new the roads like the back of his hand, he probably rode the course with more ease and less hesitation compared to his competitor. You can save several seconds on every turn and if you multiply that by the total number of turns along the course, that’s basically free speed that he didn’t even have to work for. Maybe Mitch is really a better runner than Lachlan or his racing experience allowed him to gain extra seconds with his quicker transitions. Whatever the reason he won that day, knowing the course and memorising as much of it as you can, makes a huge difference — both for pros, as well as age groupers.
3. Pros have cheat days, too, but what you eat during the two weeks leading up to race day could determine your tummy’s fate on race day. While waiting for his lunch to arrive, Mitch and I were chatting about nutrition and how his superfood supplements from The Healthy Grocery has really helped him stay on top of his nutritional needs. Naturally, I asked him how the products taste like. Although he admits that some ingredients like spirulina, wheat grass, and turmeric taste nasty on their own, he’s managed to find ways to mask the less than desirable taste by mixing it with more palatable ingredients into a smoothie. He’s also big on focusing on his gut health so he takes probiotics first thing in the morning to help prep his digestive system and clean it of unwanted toxins that have accumulated from the previous day. After that long discussion on healthy eating, his lunch, composed of a Meat Plus Burger with fries and a Seafood Burger with coleslaw, arrives. It was quite refreshing to watch him wolf down his much-deserved treat, especially after a hard day’s work. And with a metabolism like his, he can burn all those calories in a flash!
Century Tuna Ironman 70.3 Subic Bay Pilipinas is Mitch’s next stop on his series of races this season. He’ll be facing some tough competition in the likes of Tim Reed, Craig Alexander, and Tim Van Berkel, to name a few, but he’s still hopeful that it’s still anyone’s game. He just wants to focus on managing a solid performance this weekend. If everything falls into place, maybe he’ll find himself doing even better than his second-place finish last year and standing on the top spot of the podium. I wonder what his next victory meal will be…
Coach Kaye Lopez is a Makati-based multisport coach, who collectively refers to her group of athletes as FIT+ Academy. She is an ITU Level 1 certified coach and former member of triathlon, cycling, and duathlon national teams, and has more than 15 years of knowledge and experience in multisport.She is also the editor-at-large of Multisport magazine and online editor of MultiSport.ph. When she’s not coaching, she’s out doing her own swim, bike, and run training, or practicing yoga. Check out her website at www.fitplusacademy.com.