A few weeks ago we announced our first pro triathlete partnership with Jennifer Lentzke. Originally from Canada and now living in the awesome city of Austin, Jennifer is approaching her 3rd pro season. When she’s not training, racing, and traveling, she splits her time as a registered sports dietitian and owner of TORO Performance Nutrition, LLC, her own consulting practice.
Jennifer’s road to triathlon can be summed up as – Prima ballerina, Baylor women’s cross country team walk-on, college marathon runner, first Ironman on a whim (11 hours, 9 minutes!), formal training with Hillary Biscay, hard work, dedication, and grit = professional triathlete. In short, she rocks and we can’t wait to follow her 2015 season!
Now here’s a deeper look into Jennifer’s world-
Favorite food: Salmon and peanut butter. Always and forever. And no, not together.
Favorite movie: Baz Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby
Favorite Race Course: Challenge Penticton, formerly Ironman Canada. Tough, rugged, beautiful, awesome resident support and it’s where I earned my spot at Ironman World Championships in Kona.
Favorite training/racing fuel: Powergels (I’m a liquids-only-on-race-day athlete). I hydrate with Nuun.
What’s on your playlist these days? I enjoy everything from alternative rock to pop to classical to Christian. Lately there’s been a good amount of alternative rock playing in my ears…Chvrches, Hozier, Vance Joy… I’m also a huge fan of podcasts and have been really into the Rich Roll Podcast as of late.
Describe a day-in-the-life…
A typical weekday consists of a good mix of training and working as a sports dietitian. I train best in the morning, so after a bit of breakfast and a few espressos (my vice!) I’m off to the pool for a 4-5K swim set. Afterwards I’ll have a bike or run session to complete and perhaps one of my staple core routines (completed 3x/week). Most of my training is complete by noon. After re-fueling, I then take on the role of sports dietitian which entails meeting with clients face-to-face or over the phone to counsel them on everything from day-to-day nutrition, race nutrition, weight loss, etc. I typically schedule “admin” days (i.e. days where I’m working on nutrition plans and not meeting with clients) for my harder bike/run days as I find I lack the energy to productively meet with clients (i.e. my brain is fried!). This gives me the liberty to attend to regenerating (hydrating, eating, stretching, etc.) without being tied to a client schedule. With a focus on the half-ironman distance, I typically train 17-19 quality hours per week, and devote 30+ hours per week to my nutrition business. But being that I’m self-employed my “offices” (athlete + dietitian) are technically open for business all week from sun-up to sundown!
How does recovery time fit into your training and what do you do?
Recovery time is interspersed throughout my whole day and my whole week. If I’m not training or seeing clients, I’m doing something to help my body recover. This can be as simple as drinking water periodically and eating nutrient-dense foods every 2-3 hours to spending time in my Recovery Pump boots which help enhance circulation and pump blood through the muscles to help them recover faster. I spend a good portion of my pre-workout time in the morning stretching and rolling out, which I find works well for dissipating tightness from the previous day’s session and wakes my body up in preparation for another quality training day. And I can’t forget to mention sleep! I am not one of those athletes that can get by on small amounts of sleep and then catch up every few days or so. I function best on 9-10 hours of sleep per night. This is a huge priority for me and one of the keys to my success as a professional athlete.
What are your favorite cross-training activities?
In-season I really don’t do much else than swim/bike/run/strength (does walking the dog count?!). My hard days of training are very hard, which means on easy days, I’m literally swimming, biking and running at a snail’s pace. Essentially my “cross-training” sessions are the “stupid-easy” swims, rides, and runs. This way I’m loosening up the muscles that I used the day prior for my quality session(s). I’m fairly certain Austin tourists are walking faster than I’m running or riding on my easy days!
How do you find time to balance work with training and what keeps you motivated?
Time management is huge with my jobs! To be honest, being self-employed can be one of the hardest situations for someone to manage their time, but I’ve found a routine that works for me and stick to it. I have designated times for training, eating, recovery, working with clients, sleeping, even designated times for watching TV or getting on the Internet! I find that if I set limits and stick to a schedule, I’m the most productive which in turn helps keep me motivated.
You can ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you that I am hugely self-motivated. Self-discipline is a skill I grew up honing during my time as a ballerina with a professional ballet company and it’s been so valuable for my success as an athlete and dietitian. I also gain a great amount of motivation from my husband, who is also my coach. He is the one who helps me keep “momentum” in my training and continuing to progress as an athlete. I find progress so motivating, so I make sure to keep people close to me that help me move forward and progress as both an athlete and dietitian. I try to eliminate negativity from my surrounding environment as I feel this hinders motivation and progress. I’m all about the positivity, baby!
What do you think about while you are racing? What occupies your mind during training sessions?
When I’m racing I’m so in the moment! I really don’t think about much other than what’s going on at any given moment in the race. At the professional level you need “laser-focus” to stay on task. I’m literally thinking “how’s my power look? Am I eating/drinking enough? Relax, stay calm, focus, push!” If my mind starts to wander I bring it back to the present and complete each task one at a time. Just as in training, every part of my race is broken down into mini “chunks.” This helps keep me performing well, level-headed, and keeps my emotions in check. Once I’m done racing, I like to take some time to myself to reflect on a few things, particularly the people who helped me get to the finish line fit and healthy, the race organizers who are so friendly and supportive, my sponsors who truly believe in what I do, and of course God who has given me an awesome gift in my athletic abilities. The same thing goes for training. And it’s funny you should ask, as I recently posted a blog on my website about this very topic. Feel free to have a read: http://toronutrition.com/articles/on-flow-aka-being-in-the-zone/
Do you get pre-race jitters and if so, what do you do to calm your nerves? Do you have any pre-race routines?
Of course! Pre-race nerves are a good sign for me. They mean I’m ready to race and excited about performing to the best of my abilities. Generally I find that if I can keep my mind “quiet” and find a place a bit away from the hustle and bustle of the pre-race activity to contemplate, this keeps my nerves under control. My husband/coach has a very calming disposition, so he’s especially helpful to be around pre-race. When I can have him supporting me at my races I certainly appreciate it. I typically also limit my exposure to large groups of athletes (i.e. expos and pre-race activities) as it tends to create a sort of “busy mind” effect. After the race, I’m all about socializing! But before, I’m fairly introverted. I don’t have any particular pre-race routines but I generally stick to the same routines I follow in training with respect to sleep, eating, rehabbing, etc. I find that the familiarity of these routines helps to keep me calm.
We know you are a dietitian BUT…Do you have any guilty food pleasures? Anything that you absolutely crave and devour on occasion?
Oh yes! After every race I’m a glutton for a good burger and fries. I think the best post-race meal I ever had was in Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada. I had this amazing bison burger with melted Brie cheese, baked apples, onions, and there may have been bacon on there but I suppose I was in a dream-like state eating that meal that I can’t remember. It came with sweet potato fries and homemade ketchup. Ugh…heaven!
Do you see any positive trends in women’s triathlon overall and in the pro circuit?
Absolutely! I think women are gaining ground in the fight for equality in sport. We are starting to see women’s specific races pop up around the world and a push for equality when it comes to representation of pro women versus pro men. There’s a huge push for an equal number of professional men’s and women’s starting positions at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, to which the WTC has responded with an initiative to increase women’s participation in sport. The Challenge Family of races has included a variety of women’s specific races at many of their venues (like a women’s only 5K). And in just a couple of week’s time, I’ll be racing Mercuryman 70.3 in the Cayman Islands, which has put together a women’s-only professional field to promote women’s equality in sport. Things are progressing in a positive way and it’s truly exciting to see these changes!