How A Life Fitness Employee Became an Ironman
Life Fitness employees strive to provide active and healthy lifestyles for others around the world. We also realize that vitality is essential in our own lives. Greg Hoots is active and then some. The IT project manager at Life Fitness has a slew of triathlons under his belt and recently competed in the 2018 Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.
Hoots caught the triathlon bug in 2001, when he swam a leg of a small triathlon in Indiana as part of a relay team. Since then, he hasn’t taken much time off from training.
“That (first) race got me hooked on triathlons and I immediately went out and bought a very cheap bike and started training,” said Hoots. “That year I went on to compete in a handful of local sprint triathlons. From there I continued training and racing, expanding into sprint and half-Ironman distance triathlons.”
In 2006, Hoots competed in his first full triathlon at Ironman Wisconsin in Madison. Despite being a rookie, he managed to finish in the top half of the field. He followed that up with three trips to Ironman Louisville and a return to Ironman Wisconsin in 2016. Hoots has competed in too many sprint and Olympic triathlons to count and nearly 20 half Ironman races.
“For my first triathlon I had no idea what I was doing,” explained Hoots. “I did a little bit of lap swimming at the local pool and I bought a cheap bike. I was a runner so I thought that I would win the race. The result of my first race? Panic during the swim, I thought that I was going to drown. I had no idea how to race on a bike and wasted so much energy. During the run I had to make up time but I was so spent from the swim and bike I just finished. I was lucky enough during the following years to train with some really great people who taught me a lot about the sport (a few Kona finishers along with a few age group world champions).”
The pinnacle for triathletes is the annual Ironman World Championship in Kona. It’s a grueling combination of a 2.4-mile open ocean swim, a 112-mile bike race through lava fields, and a 26.2-mile run. Hoots found out in late August that he was going to the October race. He put in just under two months of consistent training to prepare. He was helped by the fact that he participated in the Ironman 70.3 half triathlon in June, and that training carried over.
“The 2018 Ironman World Championship will go down as a race that I will always remember,” explained Hoots. “I was able to race against the best endurance athletes in the world in some of the most challenging conditions. More than 56 countries were represented this year in Kona. It was a very humbling experience. I typically finish close to the front of most races, but I definitely finished at the back of the pack (at Kona) finishing in 14 hours and 1 minute. While I approached this race thinking that it would be my last full Ironman, this experience has me more excited than ever to continue racing and hopefully qualifying for this race again in a few years.”
After an exhausting race like the Ironman World Championship, you'd think that Hoots would take some time off. Think again.
"After an Ironman usually I take a week or two off," added Hoots. "This year, I actually did some swimming, biking and running a week after Kona. I have a half-marathon in Las Vegas November 11, which I want to be ready for."
Train Like an Ironman
The training schedule that Hoots adheres to isn't for the timid. A typical week includes 8,000 to 11,000 meters of swimming, 20 to 40 miles of running, and 250 to 350 miles on the bike.
Tuesday: 1-hour bike before work (intervals); 30-minute run at lunch (recovery); 30- to 60-minute run in the evening (tempo or speed work)
Wednesday: 1-hour swim before work; 30-minute run at lunch (recovery); 1- to 2-hour bike in the evening (race pace)
Thursday: 30-minute run (speed or tempo) before work; rest at lunch; 2-hour run in the evening (1- to 2-minutes per mile slower than race pace)
Friday: 1-hour swim (speed work) before work; rest at lunch; 1-hour bike in the evening (hill work)
Saturday: 4- to 6-hour bike (steady state) followed by a 30-minute run (commonly referred to as a “brick” workout) in the morning; 1-hour swim at night (endurance swim)
Sunday: 1-hour swim (drills) in the morning; 2- to 3-hour run in afternoon (long slow distance)