Making Gains in Triathlons

Member Spotlight

NAME: Joel Hoekstra

AGE: 47

HOME: Minneapolis

What is your fitness background?

As a kid, I lacked coordination, so I avoided team sports. But a friend persuaded me to run cross-country in high school, and I found I liked it. I wasn’t amazing, but I did well enough to run Junior Varsity and place in race or two. In college, I did some biking with friends, but it was purely recreational.

Why did you start working with Tr3s?

On my 44th birthday, I decided to see if I could match my best 5K time from high school. I had been running regularly, but not really pushing myself. To my surprise, I came pretty close to my personal record. That made me wonder how fast I could go if I actually trained and had goals.

About that time, I also decided to get into triathlons. It seemed like a good way to add some cross-training to my workouts and perhaps sidestep the kind of injuries that can come with running every day. After two years of following training plans out of a book, I decided I wanted something more tailored to my particular abilities. I wanted a coach who could push me a bit. A running buddy introduced me to Luis.

What has been the focus of your work with Coach Luis?

Luis is all about core strength. It doesn’t matter if you’re swimming, biking or running, you benefit enormously if you can engage your core—that’s what Luis emphasizes. Even in running, which is my forte, I feel like I can sprint faster by consciously tightening my abdominals, glutes and other core muscles, which he taught me. It’s like having a solid surface to push against, rather than a soft squishy one. And core strength is essential to swimming and biking too.

How have you progressed?

Last summer, after training with Luis for several months, I raced a handful of sprint- and Olympic distance triathlons and found my times in all three sports had vastly improved—sometimes shaving 10 minutes off my overall time. That’s a pretty big leap, so I was very happy. In a couple of races, I even managed to place in my age group. I never would have pushed myself to that level without Luis’s training plans.

What are your fitness goals for 2018?

I haven’t signed up for anything yet, but I’m planning to do several of the same triathlons I did last year. And of course, I’m also considering a half Ironman. We will see. Fitness-wise, I’m surprising even myself these days, so anything is possible.

A Structured Approach to Speed

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