|Bob Babbitt:||Our guest, the hottest guy in the sport of triathlon now, he’s won Ironman 70.3 Panama, Oceanside, Memorial Herman, then he just won the North American Pro-Champs. Mr. Lionel Sanders joins us. Lionel, how the heck are you?|
|Lionel Sanders:||I’m good Bob, how are you?|
|Bob Babbitt:||I am wonderful. Man, you are on a roll.|
|Lionel Sanders:||Yeah, it’s slowly, slowly coming along.|
|Bob Babbitt:||Talk a little bit about the transition from last year. You finished up the season with a 14th in Kona and then moving into this season what do you think led to the massive improvement?|
|Lionel Sanders:||I learned a lot of lessons. Last year was the Ironman year, so I devoted myself to learning a lot of lessons at that discipline for that distance. Fortunately a lot of those lessons were that I think 70.3 is probably really good when you’re focusing on that in particular, good for your Ironman. I put my orientation completely on Ironman, I think I got worse both at Ironman and at 70.3. Now I’ve went back, and my focus is on the 70.3 and I think … I haven’t tested it yet, but I think it’s actually going to improve my Ironman performances as well. There’s that and then just changing my training philosophy a bit. I was doing a lot of race pace stuff and now this year I’m much more polarized. Then I’m just trying to get as much speed out of the power that I’m pushing on the bike as I can. I’m getting a lot more aerodynamic. I’m getting a lot better equipment and better equipment choices. Then I started working with, after Kona, I started working with Gerry Rodrigues from Tower 26.|
|Lionel Sanders:||He’s been helping me with my swim, so that’s coming along as well. Everything is just coming together.|
|Bob Babbitt:||Are you doing most of your training in the sauna?|
|Lionel Sanders:||I’m doing a lot of that. That’s something I started to do before Kona last year, but I saw a lot of value in it, so I’m doing the heat training where I’ll … My training room is 90 square feet, so I’ll shut the door, I’ll get the humidifier on, get the heater on, and I can get it up close to 100 degrees in there with close to 100% humidity. You can literally … Sweat will be dripping down the walls it’s so humid in there. I found that that actually has a real performance enhancing effect, even in more temperate conditions. I’ve also been going from those conditions into the sauna with my winter clothes on and I’m finding that not only is that good for increased vascularization, but also for your mind. It really trains your mind really well because it’s just so uncomfortable in there. For me to stay focused for 20 or 30 minutes in those conditions, I’m finding that’s really helping me stay focused even in more desirable conditions. For instance what we had in Oceanside.|
|Bob Babbitt:||Oceanside, right. In St. George you’re dealing with cold and wet, but that’s … You’re from Canada, right? What’s the big deal?|
|Lionel Sanders:||That was a polar extreme there. I’m probably on the heavier end of things, so I knew that those conditions, when it started to get … I think the temperature started around 50 degrees and just went down. Then it started to rain and it was overcast and it was cold water. Sure, it’s not comfortable. I prefer to exercise in 60 to 70 degrees, but I knew that it was probably going to be advantageous for me. I certainly wasn’t complaining.|
|Bob Babbitt:||What I love about that race, it’s a North American Championship, you’ve got Tim O’Donnell, Michael Raelert and Sebastian Kienle. It’s sort of this hall of fame gathering of really, really good guys. You’re 4:30 down out of the water. What were you thinking? I’m 4:30 down to not guys who are just swimmers. You’re down a couple of minutes to Ironman World Champion Sebastian Kienle and 4:30 down to Tim O’Donnell, who was on the podium in Kona last year and Michael Raelert, who is a multiple time 70.3 champion. You’ve got some fast guys in front of you.|
|Lionel Sanders:||Yeah. My biggest thing in St. George was that back in 2014, that was my first time going against the best guys in the world. It was just a massively humbling experience for me. I ended up finishing 18th place, 10 minutes behind Jan Frodeno and I lost time in every single discipline. I was just a miserable person to be around. A few days later, I came to my senses and I was like, “My god, is this the person you’re becoming? Is this what triathlon has become for you?” I woke up there and I said I’m not going to do triathlon for these reasons anymore. I’m not going to win at all costs and if I don’t win I’m going to be miserable. I changed my orientation. I said I’m doing this for fun. If I cross that finish line ever again and I feel like that, I’m not doing triathlon anymore.|
It didn’t matter if I got a flat tire, it didn’t matter if I had a 4:30 minute deficit out of the water. Nothing mattered because if I got a flat tire I had two tubes and two CO2s, I was going to change that tire and get right back on and continue to hit as hard as I possibly could. When I heard the 4:30 deficit, of course I’m like, “This is going to be tough to contend for the win,” but it didn’t change my race plan whatsoever. My plan was to go as hard as I could and that’s what I did.
|Bob Babbitt:||Then you end up first off the bike. Sebastian Kienle is behind you. He’s like a minute back, and for the first eight miles or so of the run he stayed right there. Were you getting splits and seeing where the other guys were?|
|Lionel Sanders:||I could hear people saying … I think I came into T2 with about a 45 second lead and by the time I came out it was only 25 seconds. I lost some time there and it basically stayed at 25 seconds for as you say, 8, 9 miles. I knew Sebastian obviously was coming to win the race. I hit that first six miles very hard. I didn’t really hold anything back. I was trying to be somewhat patient, but I certainly was trying to drop him. I’ve done enough running to know that you snap that elastic as fast as you can and sort of break them as quick as you can. I couldn’t do it. I knew we were going to have a good race on our hands. I went into the race with the intent … with the hope of having a great race and I think you can’t push yourself to the best of your ability without the help of others. As much as it hurt and I wanted him to blow up, I was quite delighted that he didn’t blow up and that he was running really, really well. We had a great race.|
|I crossed the six mile or so, the first turn-around and my dad and my family were standing there and my dad starting yelling at me, “Who wants it more? Who wants it more?” I remember thinking to myself, “I don’t want this anymore whatsoever. I am in so much pain right now. I don’t care.” As I’m getting better at pushing myself I sort of have this next layer even beyond the actual verbal mind that’s happening, and it was fun because it was exactly what I wanted.
I continued to push on through that and I think at about mile 9 or so there was another turn-around. We had a little out and back section again to tack on the necessary distance to make it the full half, and I think by that time the gap had opened up to about 45 seconds. I knew I was starting to put some time in, so I made sure to not slow down whatsoever or give anything back.
In all honesty, even at about 12.5 miles I looked back and I just couldn’t get a sense. Your brain just does not work well in that situation.
|Bob Babbitt:||No, it doesn’t.|
|Lionel Sanders:||I look back and for all I knew he was 200 meters behind me. I had no idea.
|Bob Babbitt:||Would you look at St. George as the biggest race, the biggest win, of your career?|
|Lionel Sanders:||Yes, most definitely. I’d say it’s the best race of my career. One of the big things I did on the bike in particular was I was patient. I knew to have any shot I was going to have to be patient. That’s been one of my weaknesses. My personality is the type where I just want to hit it as hard as I possibly can. That race, that run is so grueling and so cruel if you are not prepared for it. I was very patient and I think it was probably my best executed race I ever did. It certainly, thanks to Sebastian, is the hardest I’ve ever pushed myself. The run times don’t do it justice. I most definitely think that would have been a 1:10, maybe even sub 1:10 run on a flat course. It was the best I think I’ve ever pushed myself.|
|Bob Babbitt:||When you run 1:13 on that course that’s really special, because you’re right, it’s a brutal course.|
|Lionel Sanders:||It’s very challenging. Fortunately I was mentally prepared to suffer more than I’ve ever suffered, but if you’re not mentally prepared it will just break you. I think for a lot of guys, including myself in 2014, it’s just such a humbling race. I think that’s the beauty of St. George. It really is just such a very honest course. You’re not going to do well on that course without being in great shape.|
|Bob Babbitt:||For our listeners who don’t know the Lionel Sanders story, they know that you’re on a roll right now and you’re obviously somebody who comes from behind a little bit. That’s getting better, but you usually come out of the water a little behind and you ride and run better than pretty much anybody in the field. Do you draw on the fact that you have overcome more than most people out there? That you had a substance abuse issue when you were younger. You didn’t become a pro until 2013?|
|Lionel Sanders:||Yeah, 2013 was my first pro race.|
|Bob Babbitt:||Talk a little bit about the struggles you had before you became a professional athlete.|
|Lionel Sanders:||Towards the end of high school and into college, as many young guys do, I was getting into partying and all that stuff. This is where your personality comes out. I got into it a little too extreme and it started to get to the point where I couldn’t get out of it. I started to need that kind of stuff to feel much of anything. Then, once I started to get like that, I started to get ashamed of myself, my self-esteem started to drop and I started to develop depression and having other psychological issues. For lack of a better term, I started to hate myself. I’d brush my teeth and I wouldn’t look at myself in the mirror because I was just ashamed of what I was doing and what I was becoming. I progressed down that path for about four years and I dropped out of school and basically all I was doing was making enough money to support my addictions.|
|Eventually, fortunately, I had a few rock bottom type experiences and I decided for myself to turn my life around. For me it was super interesting, because I was a runner in high school, but I hadn’t run for several years because I was partying. The first thing that popped into my head when I truly made the decision to change for myself was to go for a run. I ran every day for about a month and still felt like crap. Then, out of nowhere, and this has made me a believer in a bigger power, but out of nowhere I had the idea to do an Ironman triathlon. I had to Google even what it was. It sounded cool, but I didn’t know what it was. I Googled what it was and obviously it’s an amazing, super ultra feat to accomplish. I had no idea if I would be able to accomplish it, so I had to ask my mom to borrow her credit card to sign up for it and fortunately she gave me that.|
|I spent the next ten months training for Ironman Louisville, which was going to take place in August 2010. It just changed my entire life. Truly, every aspect of my life changed. Then I did that race, I finished and the rest is history. In that race Paul Ambrose, I remember, lapped me on the run course. I just thought he was so amazing. That someone could be running that fast that late into a race. Seven hours of exercise and I was having to walk by this time and so I was just amazed. I think that’s where the seed to be a professional was planted. Then the next three years or so I basically devoted myself to improving in all three disciplines and then in 2013 I did my first professional race. To answer your question, I always reflect back on those experiences and I think I lost my way going up to that 2014 St. George race.|
Fortunately a few days after that race, I realized that again. I’ll never forget. Now, yeah, the biggest thing for me is to remember that triathlon is such a privilege. When that gun goes off, you should be paying homage and be thankful for having the use of your legs and your arms and being of sound enough mind to do this endeavor. I always remind myself of those things. The performance and all that other stuff, the results, it’s all just icing on the cake. Just being able to do it is gift enough for me.
|Bob Babbitt:||What always impresses me is, like you said, basically mom used her credit card to get you into Louisville. I’m sure there were a lot of points during those four years where you were heading down the wrong path where you went to mom and dad and asked them for help and then betrayed it, right? You went back to what you were doing.|
|Lionel Sanders:||Yeah. They had taken out a loan because I was in school, and I was just spending the money. They trusted me, they had no idea anything was happening. I wouldn’t see them very often. I’d call them every now and then. They weren’t monitoring the loan they had given me and I was just spending it all on drugs and booze. Eventually they found out because I came home and I’m literally both crying and laughing hysterically at the same time because I’m starting to get messed up in my head. That’s when they started to think, “Something’s up here.” That’s when they start looking and that’s when it all started to make sense. Yeah, absolutely. Fortunately, being good parents, they never lost belief in me.|
|Bob Babbitt:||Did they come down when you went to Louisville?|
|Lionel Sanders:||I had no other way. I didn’t think about this very well, because I had no money for the most part, and I had no car and I couldn’t even afford a hotel room there. Fortunately they both gave me a ride and got me a hotel room. To add insult to injury, I didn’t even have a tri-suit, so my mom bought me one. At Ironman Louisville, while we were there, she bought me a two-piece tri-suit so that I could at least race. I had the bike shorts with the big chamois in them and it was a non-wetsuit swim. My swim time wasn’t very quick, but it would have been a lot slower had I worn those shorts.|
|Bob Babbitt:||Oh my god.|
|Lionel Sanders:||Yeah, I was unprepared.|
|Bob Babbitt:||You’re not there prepared, but you still went 10:14, right? In your first Ironman. Without really knowing what the hell you were doing.|
|Lionel Sanders:||I mean, if there’s anything I’ve been good at in my life it has been, when the gun goes, for some reason I turn into someone else and I go as hard as I can from start to finish. That’s what I did in that race. Once again, I was so ignorant. I had very, very little nutrition. I think I took five bottles of Gatorade in the entire bike ride. It was record highs that day. I think the high was like 113 Fahrenheit, and so I was severely dehydrated and severely bonking on the run. I had it in my head that I was going to finish that race and so I did.|
|Bob Babbitt:||Lionel, what was the lowest point for you during that point where you were in this partying mode and didn’t really know how to get out of it?|
|Lionel Sanders:||There were certainly some negative experiences, but I think just being ashamed of myself. When you feel shame inside, deep, deep shame, and you just feel uncomfortable in your own skin. I would say that is the darkest, deepest part that will never … you will never forget that feeling and you don’t wish that feeling on your enemy of hating yourself and hating your life. I try not to go back. I try not to go … I feel like a different person now. I’ve closed those doors now and I’ve become a new person. I would say just the deep, deep shame that I felt. I thought about this actually recently, I think I probably was just aware that what I was doing to myself, I was destroying my body. I just was not living up to my potential whatsoever. I had this great family who gave me all the opportunities and here I am just kind of pissing them away.|
|I just was deeply ashamed of myself for quite a while. To get rid of the shame I would do drugs and I would get drunk. Fortunately, finally, I saw what was happening and it was difficult, particularly from the standpoint of my whole social network. All of my personality, all of it was wrapped up in that lifestyle. To just walk away from it was very scary. I woke up in the detox a few times and I saw what my fate was and it wasn’t pleasant. There were guys who were just like me who were just a couple years further down the path. I just didn’t want to be that. Fortunately, I was young enough and I wasn’t deep enough down that path yet. I still had hope that I could turn it around and fortunately I did.|
|Bob Babbitt:||You’ve been very public with what you’ve gone through and that you’ve come out the other side. Triathlon, obviously, has played a huge role in that. Have you had people reach out to you who are facing the same type of demons who say, “Lionel, how did you do that? How can I do that?”|
|Lionel Sanders:||I’ve had a few people reach out in that regard and I definitely don’t turn people away. I certainly give people my opinion and how I went about things, but I always preface that with I am not a professional by any means in that regard. What I’ve found interesting is actually loved ones reach out a lot more. Parents, family and friends. I find that interesting because so many people tried to change me when I was in that place. It’s one of those things. You see someone and you have enough perspective to see what they are doing to themselves. They don’t really see it yet and you try to make them see it, and it just doesn’t work. That’s what I always say to those people. To be quite frank, when people would try to change me I would just become resentful about it. I would be like. “You don’t even know what you’re talking about.” It would make me angry.|
Don’t try and change them, because no one will change. You can only change for yourself. If someone tries to change you it just will never work that way. You need to want to change for yourself. I think the only way someone is going to see that is to see that they are loved and people care about them and then they start to see that for themselves and want that for themselves. Then hopefully they say, “Okay, I need some help.” Either they’ll come to you, or in my situation, I went about it my own way.
|Bob Babbitt:||Did you have any people you partied with back then who now reach out and go, “Is this the same Lionel Sanders who I knew back in the day? We were in detox together.” Any of those type of guys reach out at all?|
|Lionel Sanders:||I certainly had friends … one of big things is in my network I was the one who went really deeply. Your personality comes out wherever you are. It has rewarded me in triathlon that I’m an extreme person. I had a lot of friends in that lifestyle, but they didn’t go into it in the same way and it didn’t have the same effect as it did on me. I still have lots of friends who I used to know back then and were good friends and they also overcame those sorts of things. Yeah, I think a lot of guys are following now and are big fans. It’s cool, I think, to help inspire them to continue on their path.|
|Bob Babbitt:||What does the rest of your season look like? What I like is … It’s funny, years ago Alberto Salazar was the top 5000 and 10,000 meter guy in the world and when he became the world record holder at the marathon he told me that he started thinking, “I need to replace quality with quantity because now I’m a marathoner.” Then he lost his speed and went backwards. It sounds like that’s sort of what you did last year. ‘I want to be an Ironman guy, I’ve got to go long.’ He said, “When I was the best marathoner in the world I was training for speed. I was training for 5000 and 10,000.” It sounds like this year you’re training for 70.3 and then when it’s time to build up to the full you can do that based on the speed that you have.|
|Lionel Sanders:||Yeah. I think a lot of what I was doing and what I see others do as well, I think a lot of it’s rooted in insecurity. You have this insecurity that it’s so long I need to be able to do the distance. I want to also do big pieces of the distance at race pace in practice just to make sure I can do it. That’s all fine and dandy, I think you can get away with that for a little while, and I think I did get away with it for a little while.
|Now the separation between your upper limits and your race pace are getting closer and closer. Either you reduce your race pace or your perceived exertion is going to go up and up and up as time goes on. Usually it’s probably going to be your race pace that’s going to go down. I’ve seen a lot of the best guys now. The ITU guys who have come over and been successful, it’s just been so ingrained in their body and their mind to go fast. That’s how you go well at 10Ks, you get a good 3K time and do a good 5K time and then you do a good 10K and half marathon. I’ve just experimented with it last year, of doing more race pace stuff, and I’ve found that it’s just not the right way to go about it. I think Jan Frodeno made a good point this last year in that he put a lot of focus on the 70.3 World Championship and all that speed just carried over to doing well in Kona.|
|I don’t think focusing on the 70.3 World Championship in the immediate forefront in your mind is necessarily going to negatively impact your Kona. If anything I’d argue that it’s actually going to improve your performance in Kona. That’s sort of the outlook that I’m using now.|
|Bob Babbitt:||What did you learn from your Kona experience last year?|
|Lionel Sanders:||I don’t know if we have enough time …|
|Bob Babbitt:||We’ve got plenty of time.|
|Lionel Sanders:||First things first, don’t try and draft someone in the swim who is a much better swimmer. That was one mistake that I made. That was a dumb idea.|
|Bob Babbitt:||You went too hard too early?|
|Lionel Sanders:||Yeah. I just made some bad decisions in regards to my swim. I wasn’t prepared for a long swim. I hadn’t been doing long enough swim sets. A 4K swim was going to be challenging in its own, let alone to then try to bike well after it and run well off of it. Don’t wear a CamelBak on the bike. It’s going to really negatively impact your aerodynamics. Don’t use round bottles and have them all full. I started the ride with three full, round bottles with a two liter CamelBak on. Because it’s a net uphill and that’s an extra 12 pounds worth of weight I was carrying.|
|Bob Babbitt:||Oh my god.|
|Lionel Sanders:||You should probably spend some money on a good bike fit, don’t just wing it and be in a very uncomfortable position that’s difficult to stay in for the entire 180K. Then it’s going to negatively impact your run. What else? There’s lots of things with regards to the training I did going into it that were all wrong. As we already touched on, the race pace stuff. Doing a lot of stuff at race pace. I also …
|I had pushed, for instance, 330 watts in practice for four straight hours and I got into the race and I think I only pushed 275. It was very, very far off from things I had been doing three months earlier when I obviously wasn’t nearly as deeply fatigued. I was running half marathons off of these hard bikes at race pace, at 1:17 half off the bike.|
|Bob Babbitt:||In training?|
|Lionel Sanders:||In training I did about 15 of those workouts. Four hours at well over 300 watts to half marathon sub 1:20. I did it every single week for about 15 straight weeks.|
|Bob Babbitt:||You won the World Championship for Ironman 70.3 about 12 times in training.|
|Lionel Sanders:||The funny part was I was also racing in between. I did five 70.3s and two Ironman races in there as well. It was stupidity and I paid for it in Kona. I just didn’t race to my potential whatsoever.|
|Bob Babbitt:||You still got 14th.|
|Lionel Sanders:||Yeah, I won’t say it was disappointing. I cried when I crossed the finish line. My mom was there, my whole family was there. It was a dream come true to even make it to Kona. I signed up for Louisville back in 2009.|
|Bob Babbitt:||Yup, you raced your first Ironman there in 2010.|
|Lionel Sanders:||I researched and the first thing that I came across was the World Championship.
To just get to the race, that sort of was my first contact with triathlon and to finish it, it was a fantastic experience. Of course, you always say how close to your potential did you come? I don’t feel that I was near my potential. Long story short, I’m very excited to get back there and give it another go and apply the lessons that I learned.
|Bob Babbitt:||Recently I was interviewing Joe Gambles and Jesse Thomas, and I was asking them about the changes in the sport in the last few years. The one thing both of them said pretty adamantly was the bike now is full gas. It used to be people rode steady and hard, but it wasn’t the full on bike race. People are riding now like they’re not running afterwards. It’s almost like you’re going as hard as possible on a bike and hope to hang on in the run. You’ve only been doing this for a couple of years as a pro. Have you seen that as well?|
|Lionel Sanders:||I think we have Sebastian Kienle to thank for that.|
|Bob Babbitt:||Good point.|
|Lionel Sanders:||That was true until Sebastian Kienle came along and rode through them and put such a gap on them no one could catch him on the run. I think that’s kind of been the change, the turning point there was now you have the front packs knowing that you’ve got Kienle coming from behind. He swam up towards the front in Kona last year, but in previous years you had a whole group of guys who used to just be looking at themselves thinking no one is going to be coming from the back, and now you’ve got guys coming from the back. You have no choice. If you have any insecurity about your run or about your bike, if this guy catches us and then blows by us we’re screwed. Now I think it’s, for lack of a better term, I think it’s becoming a more honest race. It’s not going to be these bike packs of everyone looking around at each other. As time progresses, you have to bike to the best of your ability because, if you don’t, a very strong biker is going to come catch you, blow by, and then they can run too.|
|Bob Babbitt:||What’s interesting to me is, we’ve got the Olympics coming up and after the Olympics I’m assuming we’re going to see a number of those guys jump into 70.3. We’ve already seen Javier Gomez jump into 70.3 and obviously do exceptionally well. Next year when we’re looking at 70.3 you’re probably going to have a Richard Murray, Javier Gomez, Mario Mola, Alistair and Jonny Brownlee, plus obviously yourself, Jan Frodeno and Sebastian Kienle. Like you said earlier, you’re loving being in the sport of triathlon and you’ve gotten to the point where you want to race and just enjoy every second of these races. Are you looking forward to having that infusion of amazing talent come into 70.3 next year?|
|Lionel Sanders:||Absolutely. To find out what your limit is requires you to come out next to someone who is just as good as you – or if not better- and they push you. Then you find out, wow, I gave in. I couldn’t go any harder. I don’t think we’re near the limits yet in this sport. I think we’re sort of stagnated and I think it’s changing now, but we’re not near the limits yet. Those guys most definitely did it with ITU, you know what I mean? The new norm for a big ITU race, you’ve got to be running sub 30. Alistair Brownlee started coming out front pack on the swim and then also pushing the bike and running 29 something off of it. I’ve never met the Brownlees, but I did meet Gomez for a brief bit at 70.3 worlds in 2013 and the sense I get from them is, yeah, winning is fun and all, but I’m here to push the limit of this sport and I’m here to test and find out what I’m capable of.
That’s just fantastic. I think we need more of that in long-distance racing. I think we’re definitely going to get it very soon. For me to find out where I can go and the best that I can do is going to require that, absolutely. I’m totally excited for it.
|Bob Babbitt:||We haven’t had a Canadian guy win Kona since Peter Reid, the three-time Ironman world champion from Canada. What would it mean to you to win that race?|
|Lionel Sanders:||I mean it would be amazing. For me this is the pinnacle of triathlon.
I know it’s not kind to the young person, it’s not kind to the weaker swimmer, but I think those are all just mental limits that don’t necessarily exist in the real world. I’d like to find out if I could win it. For me to win it is going to require me to become the best biker and runner in the world. That is my motivation right now. I need to become the best biker and runner in the world. Everyday that’s what I’m trying to do in conjunction with, of course, trying to limit that swim deficit as much as I can.
|Bob Babbitt:||There is lots of technology out there. What do you find works for you?|
|Lionel Sanders:||I love it all. I do all my training indoors. I do all my biking on the CompuTrainer. I do all my running on the treadmill. I just discovered on the iFit software that I could map courses and I can then use Google maps, upload it to my treadmill, and then it uses Google maps to adjust the elevation up to the elevation of the course while showing me Google satellite images of the course. I ran the whole St. George course numerous times in practice without leaving my little training room.
I’m a huge proponent of the use of technology. I love it. I use my power meter. I’d say actually it’s come to the point with the power meter that it might even be a bad thing because if I lose my power, I’m distraught. I’m so lost. A few times I’ve lost my power and I don’t have a great sense of what type of power I’m pushing and I’ve come to find I push a lot less power. I use the power meter to push myself more than without it.I use the GPS too. I use the Garmin Foot Pod to log my running because I do it all on the treadmill. I use Training Peaks to analyze my data and I love it all.
|Then I’m using the humidifiers, the heaters, sauna and heat lamps. That’s a new addition. One of things I learned in Kona was about the sun. I did all my training indoors and it was super hot. I had the dew point well above 75 for every practice. Yet Kona was still grueling and the piece I neglected was the sun. The sun heats your skin up ridiculously more than just the temperature. My new addition is an infrared heat lamp above the treadmill. It’s just like the sun. It makes you feel like you’re burning alive inside, just like you will feel on the Queen K in Kona.|
|Bob Babbitt:||Training indoors, do you not miss riding in the wind? Like you said, the sun, the conditions that come with being outside, you don’t feel a need for that?|
|Lionel Sanders:||I’m an outdoors guy, most definitely, I love the outdoors. The biggest reason I ride my bike indoors is because I don’t want to die.|
|Bob Babbitt:||I totally understand that.|
|Lionel Sanders:||I’ve been hit four times when I was riding. I was hit four times in four years. One time I woke up in the back of the ambulance front teeth knocked out, strapped to the board. I was all beat up. I just don’t want to die riding a bike.|
|Bob Babbitt:||I don’t blame you.|
|Lionel Sanders:||I do everything indoors, the bike in particular. The running I got into … I had an injury one time where I bowed my knee in on some ice and I got a bursa sac inflammation and so I said, “Enough of that, I’m not running outside through Canadian winters anymore.” Then I just discovered the treadmill is just a fantastic training device. It’s so good on your joints. I can run so much more on the treadmill. It’s really good for pushing you too. If you don’t have a training partner you just put the treadmill at 12 miles per hour and your incentive is you’re going to fall off the back if you don’t run fast.|
|Bob Babbitt:||Don’t die.|
|Lionel Sanders:||Yeah, don’t die. What better incentive is there? My job is to do my best in races, so of course I’d love to do some riding and running outside, but this is my best way to perform my best. I definitely push myself to use the indoor stuff more. That being said, I am finding I lost some time in fairly recent races due to not having the greatest bike handling skills. I also think I had a bit of fatigue happening on my accessory muscles in my legs from running corners in races because on the treadmill all I do is run straight, I never turn. I am starting to incorporate a little outdoor training. There’s a 1.2 kilometer track where I live that was built for biking. It’s got a little hill, so I’m incorporating a bit of that in. It’s just so cold here for 8 months of the year it’s difficult to get out and use it and have any quality. I’ve just starting to get to the point where I can use that. Then I’m also starting to do one or two runs outside too, just with some corners so I can strengthen those accessory muscles.|
|The problem is I’m in Windsor, Ontario and there are just no bike lanes, nothing. People are just not expecting a bike to be traveling at 45, 50 kilometers an hour. One time I had the right of way and someone was doing a left-hand turn across traffic. I’m traveling at over 40 kilometers an hour and they did a left-hand turn in front of me. Then they realized how fast I was going, panicked, stopped in the middle of the street and I just slammed right into the side of the car. There are just so many issues. It’s just not worth it to me.|
|Bob Babbitt:||I agree.|
|Lionel Sanders:||I think the workouts are better quality indoors, quite frankly.|
|Bob Babbitt:||Lionel, thanks so much for taking so much time. I always find it fascinating when people have a great back story like you have. It means more. When you go to a race and mom and dad are there, and they were there at your lowest point, they were there when you were going through hell. Now your dad’s out there at St. George yelling for you. For them and for you, the bond must be stronger than ever before.|
|Lionel Sanders:||Yeah, most definitely. I’m just so grateful that they stood by me and never gave up on me. To have my dad in St. George with me this year was fantastic. I think we shed a couple of tears there at the finish line. It really does feel a bit surreal. I feel like a different person now and just very grateful that I’ve had my family and friends standing by me.|
|Bob Babbitt:||I love it. You’re a great role model Lionel. Congratulations on everything you’re doing!|
Listen to the Lionel Sanders Babbittville Radio interview.