I love numbers and I love to break things down and analyze them. Each triathlon season I try to tackle a new variable and learn as much as I can as an athlete and coach. Over the past 14 triathlon seasons I've completed several VO2 max tests, sweat loss tests, threshold tests, wind tunnel testing, running stride analysis, and lactate tests. This season I decided I wanted to dial in on my metabolic efficiency. I have been very fortunate to have worked with the Korey Stringer Institute in the past. I've completed several of the above tests out at the IM World Championships and at the Timex Camp in the NY Giant's Performance Center under their supervision. Each time I have worked with the professionals from KSI, I have been very impressed with their attention to detail and their thirst for knowledge. It's a very friendly staff to work with. That can be important when you are being poked, prodded and hooked up to machines. Chris Thomas_1I have been very interested in learning about my metabolic efficiency ever since I returned to the Ironman distance in 2010. I have participated in over thirty five 70.3 distance races and I really have the nutrition aspect down for that distance and for shorter races. However, I have competed in the Ironman World Championship race seven times and I am still trying to figure out the best nutrition game plan for that combination of heat, wind, and humidity. Every athlete is unique. I see this all the time as a coach. Some younger athletes have lower heart rate thresholds than athletes ten plus years older even though in theory the younger athlete should have a higher threshold. There are athletes that can consume whatever they want during a race and their GI systems are totally fine throughout. While there are other athletes that have very sensitive guts. I, personally, fall into the later category.
When I race, I triangulate three factors: heart rate, power, and perceived effort. I know my zones and I test frequently to make sure things are realistic and accurate. However, I have never identified my carb to fat burn ratios. My goal was to learn about several factors during the testing process. The first factor I wanted to determine was the intensity level that was the most efficient for training. The second factor I wanted to learn was how many carbs do I burn while at ironman effort and does my fat burn rate change as the intensity rises.
We built my effort throughout the test until my carb to fat burn rates crossed over. At this crossover point, I was in between my 70.3 and olympic distance effort levels and my combined burn rate was up at twenty calories per minute. I was definitely ready to get off the bike at that point in the test as I had not been allowed to eat anything in over 6.5 hours.
While I did have a few hunger pains by the end, I had another great experience testing with the KSI team and I have learned many things that I look forward to using in 2014.
Career Highlights: 2009 USA Triathlon Amateur Athlete of the Year, 2012,2013, 2014 USA Triathlon Masters Athlete of the Year, 2014 USA Triathlon Olympic National Championship Masters Champion, 4 X Ironman 70.3 World Championship Age Group Winner (2008, 2009, 2012, 2013), 18 X 70.3 Overall Amateur Champion, 9 X Ironman World Champion Finisher (4 X Top 10 in Age Group), 2015 American Zofingen LC Champion, 2nd OA IM Maryland
I started competing in triathlon in the summer of 2000. I had always been intrigued by the sport since the early ‘80s when I would watch the Hawaii Ironman on TV. I got into running at a young age (6yrs old) as my father was a big marathon runner back in the late 70’s, early 80’s running boom. I did my first 10-mile road race when I was 10 years old. I also played ice hockey throughout my childhood and I stopped running my sophomore year in high school in order to completely focus on ice hockey. I did not run again until the fall of 1999. During that race, a friend of mine mentioned that he competed in sprint triathlons, short duration races lasting around one hour. I was immediately interested and I signed up for my first triathlon in July of 2000 up in Falmouth, Ma. I was immediately hooked. I loved the competition. I especially liked the aspect of the three sports and how one could continue to practice and improve in each sport. I believe all three sports compliment each other. I also really enjoyed the idea of challenging myself to see where I could get. So, while triathlon is a competition, I see it more as a race against yourself then others. It is a very addictive sport, but I think it’s probably one of the healthiest addictions that I know of. The training is also a great stress relief. I worked in New York City for the past 5 years and down on Wall Street for 2 years. The commute and the lifestyle can get pretty stressful at times. The training really helped me de-stress and stay focused. I have three little boys and I really enjoy sharing the sport with all three of them. I don’t care if they ever compete in a race, but I do believe it’s important to expose them to healthy opportunities in life. I would say that the hardest endurance scenario I’ve faced was actually the first half ironman I competed in up in Laconia, NH, which was the Timberman race. I’ve completed four full Ironman events, but that half ironman was my first attempt at the distance. I feel, in hindsight, that I just was not properly trained for the event. It was an incredible eye opening experience. I don’t think I’ve been more tired then the moment I crossed that finish line. However, the human mind is fascinating, as I was looking forward to the next race less then 24 hours after.