by Cody Beals

Ed. Note—Wattie Ink. professional Cody Beals just keeps on doing it, heading to Mont-Tremblant last weekend and not only coming away with the W, but doing it in style, beating his own course record from the previous year AND a resurgent Lionel Sanders. Don't miss Nathan Killam standing on the 3rd step of the podium getting soaked in champagne, too. We asked the record-setting Canadian some questions about what he does in preparation for his races, and for his training in general. First of all, though, a few facts about his race:

  • Overall time: 7:58:34 (new course record, breaking my own 2018 record)
  • Swim: 50:36 (2nd out of the water)
  • Bike: 4:20:52 (2nd bike split)
  • Run: 2:42:28 (new run course record) 

Do you have a set schedule you do every morning before a race?

I deliberately avoid elaborate routines and rituals around race morning. These routines are inevitably disturbed when you travel and race in different countries, time zones and unforeseen circumstances. The key for me is to stay relaxed, flexible and able to roll with whatever situation arises.

Ideally, I'll wake up about 2.5 hours before the race starts. I'll have a large breakfast consisting mostly of carbohydrate with a little protein and fat. My go-to foods include whole wheat bread, oats, milk, banana, yogurt, peanut butter, raisins and dates, but I often mix it up. During breakfast, I review last minute details such as my race plan, complicated sections of the course, self-talk phrases and visualization. As I make my way to the race site, I like to listen to a playlist that gradually builds in intensity to get amped up for the start!

Is there something you do in racing or training that you view as sacred but someone else might think of as strange? Would you mine sharing it with us?

I almost never set alarms to wake up. Obviously, this is luxury of my lifestyle as a full-time pro triathlete, but I also deliberately structure my days to avoid early morning commitments. Among the local training groups I occasionally join, I'm notorious for sauntering into practice whenever.

I've suffered from insomnia on and off since I was a university student. I've always viewed sleep as my greatest limiter and the most important factor in my physical and mental health. Even as a pro triathlete, I've often struggled to average more than seven hours of sleep per day. I consider sleep to be my paramount priority and the best use of my time. From my perspective, sleeping through training sessions is always a positive trade-off. Avoiding alarms is just one component of my fanatical sleep hygiene!

In general, I rarely schedule training sessions and limit other hard commitments. I prefer to evaluate how I'm feeling every morning and plan the day accordingly to maximize my productivity—whether it's training, desk work, housework, social plans or downtime. My most productive and enjoyable days flow spontaneously while still fitting within the framework of a broader plan.

Something you wish all age-group triathletes did or understood:

Just say no to watches in the pool! The pace clock is the only device you need.

Piece of gear/purchase (other than big ticket items such as bikes/wheels) that you couldn’t live without—doesn’t have to be racing/training related:
In keeping with the theme of sleep, I'm going with a sleep mask and ear plugs! I'm absolutely addicted. I stock up on $1 sleep masks and $0.20 foam ear plugs and stash them everywhere. I can't imagine a better bang-for-your-buck in terms of recovery aids and performance enhancers.

Book/movie/music you have recommended most to others and why:

The "Remembrance of Earth's Past" trilogy by Liu Cixin blew my mind! It's the first book translated from Chinese that I've read and I appreciated the subtly different perspective from my usual Western-centric reading. Post-apocalyptic and dystopian novels have always fascinated me. This trilogy is a long haul, but it builds to a mind-boggling finale. The author's ideas around "cosmic sociology"—how alien societies interact—are profound and terrifying!

The most important thing you’ve changed in your approach to the sport in the last eighteen months:

This year, I had to deal with the first significant injury of my entire two decades in endurance sports: achilles tendinopathy. This injury partly stemmed from a nasty illness this spring, which in turn was triggered by poor management of stress and training load. This entire debacle forced me to reevaluate how I assess and manage stress from training and all other sources.

One of the key changes I made was taking more recovery days off training and other work-related activities. In some past years, I could count on one hand the number of days off I took! This year, I've integrated far more planned recovery days. I've also become more comfortable calling an audible when unplanned recovery is warranted, without the feelings of anxiety or guilt I used to have.

As a result, I seem to be adapting to my training load better than ever, despite training a little less overall. It's made me appreciate that I was chronically overreaching to varying degrees in the past.