An exclusive interview to Giannis Psarelis
Triathlon World : When did you start sport and triathlon?
Mackenzie Madison : I was mostly involved with music and dancing for 9 years. I played piano/ clarinet for 7… I was not involved with anything athletic. It wasn’t that I actually disliked sports, it was that I was horrible at them so I didn’t have much fun with it and was the last person to be picked for a sports team. So needless to say I really wasn’t into the whole athletics thing as I wasn’t really supported throughout it. It finally hit me when I was twelve and in 6th grade that being last in the P.E. mile was the last time I was going to be there. I wanted to improve myself and be better. So I decided to run a mile everyday that summer. I got down from an almost 14 minute mile to a 7 min mile by running every single day. I enjoyed getting faster and faster. I enjoyed the challenge and seeing success. I was starting to have fun with what I dreaded every single year- running. Then towards the end of the summer, my father asked me to do a triathlon with him. So I did, and low and behold at the sprint triathlon, I got 1st place female overall. I was hooked on the active lifestyle, the challenge, the constant problem solving.
Triathlon World : What are your sport goals for 2012 and your career as well?
Mackenzie Madison : Everyone wants to win a race, but it’s definitely a possibility for 2012- winning an Ironman and a 70.3 event. And with that, I’d like to be able to compete with the best at the Ironman World Championships this year. Last year I tore my hamstring and had surgery never accruing enough points to be able to race. This year it can definitely be a reality. I am only 25 years old, therefore I have a dozen or so years until I actually peak in my career. In order to hold onto that and continue to improve as I have so much each year, I’m going to be patient and work my way up to becoming one of the most solid, seasoned racers on the circuit. I’d like to have a fun, long and very accomplished career. I honestly can’t say how far I’ll go or where I’ll end up. But that’s the awesome part, there’s so much yet I have to experience.
Triathlon World : What have you studied and how your studies help your sports career?
Mackenzie Madison : This is something I definitely have going for me. I acquired my undergraduate or Bachelors in Kinesiology with a Pre-Physical Therapy emphasis and a Minor in Coaching from Iowa State University. I also ran Division I Cross Country and Track for 4 years there. Talk about learning what it takes to compete as a junior in running up to the ultra-competitive level at college. I then went on to get my Masters in Exercise Physiology from the University of Oregon. I also coached for many years throughout my educational experiences. I also did tons of research on elite cyclists, hydration, heat acclimation, glycogen replenishing. On top of that I am very experienced at completing lactate threshold tests, VO2max tests at the research level and deeply analyzing the results. I’ve done this for quite a few professional runners and helped their coaches out. It’s awesome because by looking at my data, I can tell exactly what’s going on more in depth, what I need, or how to adjust according to it. I have my own coach/ exercise physiologist/ physical therapist with me every workout, race, and well all the time!
Triathlon World : Do you have a coach and what is his philosophy?
Mackenzie Madison : I am my coach. My philosophy is to listen to my body, enjoy what I’m doing, be confident in it and be open to suggestions and be subjective at times. I pay attention to the details only to paint the bigger, masterpiece picture. And that painting is never completed and always changing.
Triathlon World : What is a typical day for you? How many hours per week are you train and how you split them around the three sports?
Mackenzie Madison : A typical day goes for me as follows:
– 5-6 AM wake up and swim 2 hours ~6-7k total
– Eat, hydrate, prepare for the next workout
– Longer ride with hill tempos, cadence work or threshold tempos 4-6 hours
– Shorter Brick Run about 45 min or so and 6-7 miles
– Eat, hydrate, shower, stretch
– Go coach the U of O Tri Team, answer emails, coach my athletes, write articles that I’m working on, do domestic things
– Try to go to bed around 9. Then I do it again! J
Triathlon World : What are the most common mistakes that age group triathletes are doing?
Mackenzie Madison : – Focusing on volume over quality and intensity and focusing on form over fitness. Form is important, but you can’t have good form (swimming, cycling or running) if you’re not strong enough. We all break down eventually; eliminating when it happens reduces poor form.
– Pushing through injuries and not taking the time to do the little things: foam roll, ice, golf ball or look at other issues that could be causing the pain
– Overdoing it with their nutrition being exactly to a T and having to have everything so calculated and according to numbers. You’ve got to be willing to have a fluff factor for everything; otherwise nothing will ever go your way.
Triathlon World : Do you train alone or with a group? What are the benefits for each case?
Mackenzie Madison : I do both! On days where you have intensity, especially swimming, you get other people to really help you tap into the speed and accomplish things that you never really thought you were capable of. But, you should be able to self-derive that same motivation and effort. It’s lonely sometimes out there during an Ironman or you can’t always go with people on long rides, runs, or speed work. Being able to be a self-sufficient athlete and not always rely on others is key. It’s what ultimately makes you a better athlete.
Triathlon World : Sport equipment technology has penetrated in triathlon very intensively the last years. How much does it influence the sport result?
Mackenzie Madison : A TON! One word really: Time Trial Bikes! My BMC Time Machiene
Triathlon World : What instruments do you use in order to measure the intensity of your training?
Mackenzie Madison : I use my Garmin with heart rate, etc., my CycleOps Joule. And honestly, since I’m pretty good at judging how hard I’m going, I know if I’m really trying or where I need to be most of the time or what effort I need to be at for different workouts. But that’s why I have the other things there to clarify and add more info to what’s going on internally.
TYR, BMC, PowerBar, K-Swiss, Garmin, CycleOps