Advice from an Ironman - Eric Hinman

Hey guys! I'm finallllly catching up! I don't recommend starting a new job during the busiest time of year for your other job, hah! Oh well, I've enjoyed it, but I miss blogging! So a while ago I reached out and interviewed Eric Hinman whom I met while in Hawaii with Oakley. He's an incredible athlete and I just had to pick his brain. First I asked him to tell us a little bit about himself and then further down you can find the actual interview. Thanks!

Mae: So, Eric, tell us about yourself:

Eric: I started training for triathlon in 2010. I didn't know how to swim. I never biked competitively, I had a running background - high school circa 2002. I signed up for my first sprint (a small local race), and spent hours in the pool leading up to it learning how to swim, practicing two stroke breathing. In my first sprint distance triathlon, I side stroked, and back stroked the entire 800m. I was scared shitless surrounded by other people, flailing in the water. I thought I might drown! With a bit of luck, and perseverance, I made it through the swim, passed people on the bike, and held my own on the run. I finished 3rd - excited that I did well, but hungry to improve. Triathlon is a very individual sport - the biggest competition is yourself. I love self improvement, and was instantly addicted to the process to improve. I competed in one other local sprint distance triathlon that summer, with my sights set on 2011. I hired a coach, and began training with purpose. I started to understand the difference between training hard, and training smart. I completed my first Olympic distance, then two half Ironmans in 2011. In my second half Ironman, I qualified for the half Ironman world championships. In 2012, I completed my first full Ironman in Lake Placid. I was soooo sore, for days after!! I missed qualifying for Kona by one spot, which equated to 1 minute. It fueled my competitive drive to further improve and quality for Kona in 2013. Under the helm of my triathlon coach, Mike Corona, I trained long purposeful hours, in prep for IM Lake Placid 2013. It worked. I qualified for Kona! In Kona, I was a victim of the lava fields, heat and wind. I had an awful race. It took everything not to quit. Seeing so many other inspiring athletes on the course gave me the mental fortitude to continue on, finish the race, and get my finishers tee shirt + medal. Yet again, my competitive drive was fueled. I had to perform better in Kona - for my own satisfaction! I trained even longer, and harder in prep for IM Lake Placid 2014. I qualified again. In Kona 2014, I finished in 9:36. I was satisfied!

2x Kona Qualifier + Finisher (IM World Championships)
4x Half Ironman World Championship Qualifier
5x Ironman Finisher
10x Half Ironman Finisher

 

Mae: How did you get started? Any sports before competing in Ironmans?

Eric
: I played three sports in high school - basketball, track, and cross country.  I played one year of basketball in college (a bit too short to be a force!). I started weight lifting in college, and stuck with that through my early 20's. I really didn't have an extensive athletic background, other than always enjoying being active, and competing against myself/seeking self improvement.

Mae: So I reached out to some people online who also have some questions. Below are a few I chose. 

Do you get motivation externally or internally? What practices do you use before a big race? Visualization? Meditation? 

Eric: I get motivation internally. I am very competitive with myself. I'm always seeking self improvement in all aspects of life. I set seemingly unattainable goals, and then execute on a daily basis to reach them. My theory - if someone else has done it, I can do it with enough time and purposeful practice. I try to go through life with purpose in anything I'm doing.

I do some visualizing + meditation in the weeks leading up to a big race - the 5 hour bike rides provide plenty of alone time! However, in most training sessions, I focus on being in the present - if you think about how much longer the training session is, or how much you have to do, it's easy to defeat yourself.

Mae : Crowd Question : Do you sing to yourself, or what keeps your mind occupied during such long stretches of road on ride/run. I know we can all guilty of getting in our own heads, so what prevents you from doing that?

Eric : Mental fatigue is the hardest part of any sport (in my opinion). Like anyone, I have on days where I'm in a flow state, and off days where 5 minutes into a 2 hour session I want to quit. However, I try to go into every training session with a positive attitude, purpose, and excitement. Luckily, once I start training, I normally get "in the zone" quickly.  

Mae : Crowd Question : Do you use any sort of sports psychologist? Dr. Michael Gervais was just a guest on the Rich Roll podcast and it got me thinking about how high level endurance athletes are seemingly all employing some sort of sports related psychologists. How do you deal with self sabotage in tough events where things seem to be going poorly?

Eric: I don't. I am good at tricking my mind - for example, I set mini-goals during races. On the Ironman run (a marathon), I'll typically just focused on getting to the next aid station (one mile away) looking forward to a cup of Coca Cola at the aid station - to spike my blood sugar level, to keep going. I don't think about how far I have to go, just how far I've already gone. A positive mindset is paramount - think about past successes - I've run a marathon before, I can do this. I trained long hours, I can do this. Others have done this, I can do this.

Mae : Crowd Question : Tips for sticking to training schedule while still having a life on the road!

Eric : It's tough to balance. When I was training long hours, I structured my days around my workouts. I traveled less frequently, and avoided places where I couldn't easily get into my training routine. Ex.) I'd visit places that allowed for easy training - Austin, TX where I can easily run, bike at a training facility, and accessibility to a pool. 

Mae : Crowd Question : What kind of cross training do you do besides swim, bike, run?

Eric: I do a lot of strength training, and Crossfit (5x per week off-season and 3x per week in-season). I truly feel this has given me an edge - increasing my strength to weight ratio, building durability and muscular endurance, and reduces my risk of getting injured from the high repetition/volume in triathlon training. The metabolic conditioning workouts in Crossfit also give me a mental edge to really dig deep when my body is hurting - I can think back to all my past sessions, and convince myself, I've been through worse!

Mae : Crowd Question : What does your nutrition look like while in training? Are you counting calories or macros?

Eric: I adopted a high fat diet. Here's a typical day:
https://www.evernote.com/shard/s18/sh/63b98521-2fe9-46d9-8522-c117a04547a9/fa66f79114f2d10dcb3e3963c5cd85aa

Mae : Any pre-race rituals?

Eric: I always write a race plan. I read my prior race reports to see what I did well, and what I didn't do well. 

Mae : Best advice to someone wanting to do their first ironman? 

Eric: Find a coach. Think like a bumble-bee, and train like a race horse. Find a great coach that will help you train with purpose. Hit the workouts, don't overthink it. Put in the time + effort, and you will succeed! Discuss with your significant other - it's a major time commitment.
The training needs to be consistent.

Thanks Eric!! 
You can find his social media here:

https://www.instagram.com/erichinman/

http://www.fitner.co/eric