Q&A with Triathlete and USAT Endurance Coach Lauren Updyke, MA

Posted April 29th, 2013 by Brian Hock

Q. Where do you live?

A. I live in Westerville, Ohio (USA) which is a suburb of Columbus.

Q. What is your profession?

A. I am a full time endurance coach, writer, wife, and nugget manager. I am helping my mom publish a children’s book she wrote years ago but never set out to publish it. I blog, write articles for local magazines, and creative write. Not sure it will ever be something I make money doing, but I love it. I spend a lot of my time coaching and training but other than that I’m a wife to my wonderful husband, Nate, and nugget manager to my twin ‘nuggets’ (step sons) Aidan, and Grant. They are hysterical and remind me life is too short to get too upset about any one thing.

Q. How do you like to coach? Who do you coach now?

A. I coach full-time. I am so lucky to be able to do so. How do I like to coach? Well I am not sure how I would explain it but I’ll try. I only take a set number of athletes each year. It allows me to focus my energy appropriately on those athletes. I’m a big believer in using a power meter on the bike to really get the gains you need as an endurance athlete. I think that heart rate training on the bike and run are also really important for that athlete looking to make bigger gains. I think there is a time and place for perceived exertion only, but I think there is a small percentage of people who can successfully manage their own efforts and not injure themselves, overtrain, or undertrain. I coach mostly age group athletes who are aiming at placing in their age groups, take significant time off of their PR’s, qualify for World Championships, etc. We all want to get better, but I’m looking for athletes who have the drive to give it 110% as I will as their coach. I currently have a variety of different distance triathletes, XC Mountain Bikers, Cyclocross and Road Racers, and Runners. Basically anything that requires endurance, I coach it. My background is in exercise science, coaching, personal training, and fitness management so I have the knowledge to bridge a variety of sports.

Q. How is running/training in Columbus or specifically in the area you live?

A. You know, it is really really great. You’d think Columbus is kind of a smaller city, nothing too huge to our name but honestly we have a phenomenal community. There’s a fantastic 15 mile run I have that has a bunch of rollers on the front end and then goes through Westerville on the back end. It’s nice. You get a little country and a little city. Riding from my house I can also get hundreds of miles in different directions on my bike. Hills (ok baby hills if you live out west), flat, wooded, corn fields, you name it. We also have several stores and training facilities that support the endurance community. I teach at a studio called Triformance Swim Bike Run. We’re excited to see how the studio grows!

Q. How did you get into triathlons?

A. Wow, this is in an incredibly long answer. Actually I wrote a blog entry about how I got into triathlon and why I still do it. I got into triathlon because I needed a way to basically stay active and get out of bed! I suffered from some depression and eating disorder issues in my younger years and was always playing sports. Once I realized I could still compete as an adult, I was so excited. When I started I was not really that fast. I was a slooooowwww runner but over the years I’ve busted my butt to get where I am. I think that is why I am so grateful for the sport – I have gotten to a place I never thought possible when I first started.

Q. What about triathlons/running do you love?

A. I love the combination. I also love to race. There’s something so fun about hopping out of the water, your adrenaline pumping and then you get on your bike and take off! I love going fast on my bike – I think people who stop cycling as they grow up are missing out. There’s something thrilling about going 40 MPH downhill with nothing between you and the air. 

Q. Tell us about your experience with triathlons? What about it do you love? Any advice you can share with new triathletes?

A. Oh man, my experience? Hm, my first tri was years ago I believe in 2005 maybe? It was a super sprint. It took me 45 minutes to do I think. I loved every second of it. I was such a newbie though. I had a balloon on my bike because I thought that’s just what you did to find your bike. Ha. Silly Lauren. I love that triathlon gave me a way to manage my depression. It gives me something external to work on. It’s also become my career so it’s fun to be able to do something I love and call it work.
My advice for newer athletes is to ask questions and as many as you can but KNOW WHO YOU ARE ASKING. Find someone with knowledge of physiology, the sport, and has gone through several different types of races so you know they have a broad view of the sport.

Q. You were recently selected as honorable mention in Triathlon USA rankings. What is the selection process to make the list? Is it strictly on time/places?

A. Yes I was for the second year (thanks for asking!). It’s a strange system and it does not necessarily demonstrate how strong an athlete is sometimes. I have some really fast, talented friends whose ranking does not reflect their talent. They rank you based on your results in relationship to others in the race. They explain it all on USA Triathlon’s website. Honestly, I am just flattered to be recognized for doing something I love.

Q. Have you run an Ironman Triathlon? If yes, how was it or what do you love about it? If no, why not?

A. Ohhh have I done Ironman. Yes. I have. I have completed 5 and am headed toward my 6th this year. I wasn’t fast when I first started. I couldn’t really get a race together and once I did my third I figured it out a bit. Plus I had some great guidance from a great friend and coach Kathleen Hughes (badass IM AG champion and Columbus local). I love the mental challenge. I am working on my goal to qualify for Kona. I will get there and hopefully it is sooner rather than later but I will do whatever it takes to get there.

Q. What are your personal bests (PBs) at various distances/times and
also please list top race performances with place?

A. – 1st Place Age Group Palm Springs Half Marathon 2013
- 8th Place Age Group Ironman Wisconsin 2012
- 5th Place Age Group Ironman Muncie 70.3 2012
- 4th Place Age Group Ironman Hawaii 70.3 2012
- Honorable Mention USA Triathlon Female 25-29 Age Group 2011
- 12th Place Age Group Ironman Florida 2011
- 1st Place Age Group Lifetime Chicago Triathlon 2011
- 6th Place Age Group Ironman 70.3 Muncie 2011
- 2nd Overall Female Racing for Recovery 2011
- 2nd Place Age Group Racing for Recovery Triathlon 2010
- 1st Place Age Group Portage Lakes International Triathlon 2009
- 2nd Place Overall Female Fat Rabbit International Triathlon 2009

Q. What person(s) in triathlon inspire(s) you?

A. I mentioned Kathleen Hughes before but she is honestly one of the most inspirational athletes and people I’ve met. She is an Ironman AG World Champion and even after 7 knee surgeries is still going strong. She’s the epitome of mental strength and fortitude. She taught me a lot about the sport and a lot about being a coach and I’m so grateful for her friendship. This is going to sound super “cheesy” but my husband inspires me. He works his butt off at his job. He’s a wonderful father and husband AND still trains for these crazy endurance events. He has an internal drive that I admire. I love seeing him on a course with me. It gives me a little more oomph when I hear him yell “gooooo babaaaay” Told you. Cheesy.

Q. What is your favorite triathlon and why?

A. I love love loved Ironman Wisconsin. The spectators were wonderful. So many things actually went wrong last year when I did that race but it was 100% the most fun I have had at a race. My favorite ‘destination’ race was Honu 70.3. Hard, hot, windy, but you’re in paradise so you can’t be too bummed about the conditions!

Q. Looking back over your career, what was your best or most favorite race and why?

A. This isn’t my favorite or my best showing but I was so proud to qualify for the 70.3 World Championships. It is a hard race for sure and though I didn’t place or do anything super spectacular result wise, I met some wonderful athletes and gained the confidence I needed to say “ok, I can take this up a level.”

Q. What triathlon or race would you like to compete in one day?

A. I WILL compete in Kona (Ironman World Championship) so it’s not a ‘would like’ it’s a ‘this is gonna happen.’  :)  

Q. What is a typical week of training for you?

A. – Monday I swim 4-5.5k and do a 2-3 hr ride,
- Tuesday I swim 3-4k and run up to 14 miles and do strength/core,
- Wednesday I do a hard/speed run and have an optional recovery ride,
- Thursday I do a hard/speed ride and do strength/core,
- Friday I run easy and swim another 3-4k.
- Saturday and Sunday are my long days. They change throughout the season but it might be a 4-6 hr ride plus 30 minute run then up to 3 hours running on Sunday. Depends on the time of year for sure.

Q. How does training impact your family?

A. I am married to Nate and have 2 nuggets (step sons).  They are awesome and really patient with me. I can be crabby and tired but they all know my goal and are on board. Nate even said “I promise to encourage you when you are tired because I share your goals as my own” when he read his vows to me when we got married. I know how perfect, right?

Q. What three words to describe you as a competitor?

A. Aggressive, Happy, Goofy (I’m always making stupid faces or messing with spectators)

Q. What three words describe you as a coach?

A. Understanding, Specific, Fun

Q. How did you first hear about the Simple Hydration Bottle?

A. I believe it was Facebook.

Q. What was your reaction to the bottle after using it?

A. I was so excited. I hate having something around my waist and refuse to wear a running pack when I race BUT I use Osmo Nutrition so I need to carry the fluid with me. So, it’s a total conundrum how to carry my stuff! Last year I would just shove a disposable bottle down my bra or shorts and deal with it. Simple Hydration is so much more comfortable and easy to run with.

Q. How do you use the Simple Hydration Bottle(s)?

A. I shove it down the back of my shorts or race belt. I have also shoved it in my sport bra. That takes a little more practice but it does not bounce at all then. If you’ve got a draw string it shouldn’t really bounce anyway. If I use in an Ironman what I do is make a double ‘batch’ of OSMO and then pour it into the water cups at aid stations to get the right osmolality (the whole point of using the product). I will do this in St. Croix coming up.

Q. What races do you have planned for the 2013 season?

A. I’m excited because the only 2 ‘set’ races are 70.3 St. Croix and Ironman Coeur d’Alene. After that if I qualify for Kona or Vegas then those, if not I am going to rock out some XTerra races, some shorter triathlons, and travel to my athletes races. Oh yea! I almost forgot I get to visit Stockholm this summer and race in an Olympic tri there with my dad! So excited.

Q. Would you like to add anything else about yourself?

A. In my free time I volunteer my time for the Center for Balanced Living as a facilitator for the Eating Disorder Support Groups. I started a project about body image awareness this year and details can be found on my website at basetrifitness.com. Lastly I am part of Eleonore Rocks foundation triathlon team! If anyone out there wants to donate to this fantastic cause it would be appreciated.

Q. Who are your sponsors?

A. BikeSource, Osmo Nutrition, SkinStrong, KT Tape