Ever wonder what it's like to be in the focused mind of a world class athlete? Find out what it takes physically and mentally to compete in the IRONMAN triathlon. Triathlete Eric Engel is an inaugural member of the Super Squad - Superfeet's Ambassador program. In this interview, he gives us a glimpse into his world, his training and his motivations.
In your opinion, what does it mean to be an IRONMAN?
Being an IRONMAN has changed my life in so many ways. I grew up playing soccer my whole life and once I got to college, there was a void. Triathlon filled that void. I took a triathlon class at UW-Madison and haven’t looked back since.
Last fall, I completed my 5th IRONMAN at the World Championships in Kona, which has been a goal of mine for the last seven years. You don’t truly know what it means to be an IRONMAN until you get to cross that finish line and hear your name called. Those few seconds make the sacrifices worth it.
What has been a significant moment from your recent IRONMAN St. George event?
I had an amazing time at IRONMAN St. George a few weeks back. I had never been to Utah before, but now I’ll definitely be making a return trip. It was absolutely gorgeous, and a nice break from the cool weather back in Wisconsin.
My favorite moment from the weekend was actually post-race. I had the opportunity to meet one of my idols, Mirinda Carfrae. I was able to see her out on-course and get the chance to chat with her after, and snap a picture! Watching Mirinda these past couple years has inspired me to try to push myself to new heights.
Social media has drastically changed how athletes can interact with both fans and spectators. How has blogging and connecting with the running community impacted your running career?
I started my blog back in 2013 to document my IRONMAN training leading up to a hopeful Kona qualify race at IRONMAN Wisconsin. Over the past two and a half years, I’ve been inspired by the impact my blog has had on other people and been truly amazed by the support I’ve received from friends, family and complete strangers. I feel very grateful to be able to document my training, both highs and lows, with so many people following along.
What drives you more in your career: the competitive landscape or the active lifestyle?
Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you: I’m super competitive. Triathlon can be a very individual sport and I spend a lot of time training alone, so I need to find different sources of motivation. On race day, it’s easy to get caught up in the competitive landscape with other Age Groupers, but I do my best to stick to the plan laid out by my coach, Blake Becker, and know that if I hit my goals, everything else will work out.
Do you have any career goals you can share with us? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I have some long-term goals in the sport of triathlon, as well as my career. If I continue to make gains and progress, I hope to take a shot at the professional landscape. I still have a ton of work ahead of me if I want to make that leap, but I’ve been watching pros like Ben Hoffman and Heather Wurtele make meteoric rises in the sport. Their hard work and dedication makes me want to work even harder towards my own goals.
At the end of last year, I set out two main goals for the 2015 season. The first is to win my AG at IRONMAN Coeur d’Alene next month and qualify for Kona. The second is to win IRONMAN Wisconsin. Fortunately for me, there is no professional field this year at IMWI, which gives an amateur the opportunity to take home the title. I lived in Madison for seven years and can’t imagine a bigger high than running down the finishing chute and taking the title this September.
Taking on a triathlon or IRONMAN race can be a pretty daunting experience, what advice would you give someone thinking about signing up for their first triathlon or IRONMAN?
I believe that almost anyone can complete in an IRONMAN race. With that said, it will require tons of dedication, sacrifices and hard work. When the training gets tough, look deep and try to remember WHY you are doing this in the first place. To lose weight, to remember a lost loved one or to prove others wrong? Whatever it is, find that motivation, smile and keep going!
How did Superfeet come into your life?
I work for Endurance House, a triathlon specialty store located in Delafield, WI. Endurance House offers a wide variety of triathlon products and services, including shoes, swimming gear, bikes and more. I had never worn inserts before starting at Endurance House, but our Superfeet rep came into the store for a demo and I haven’t taken them off since. I have Superfeet BLUE in all my work shoes, CARBON in all my running shoes and BLACK in my cycling shoes.
How have Superfeet insoles changed the way you compete in triathlons?
I didn’t know what I was missing out on until I started using Superfeet. Running has also taken a toll on my body throughout training. I was so sick of injuries popping up; knees, shins, hips, etc. Superfeet insoles help provide balance, comfort and support when I’m putting in long training days.
Congratulations Eric. We look forward to hearing about your next IRONMAN and more. If you have questions or want to know more about any of our Super Squad members, stop by our Super Squad page or drop us a note in the comments.