Posts by MultiSport Canada Ambassadors

How does your thyroid affect your endurance training?

— By Raúl Andrés Pérez

Being a triathlete is demanding, and to meet your goals in races you need to ask a lot of your body in training. So what happens when we (triathletes) suffer from a condition that doesn’t allow us to complete our training as expected?

For me, by the end of summer in 2010, I had had several months of being unable to complete my training because I felt so lazy (not intentionally) but I was not doing anything except sitting on the couch, I also had muscle pain frequently, cramps, and feeling that all my body ached; I had never felt those symptoms before so I went to see my family doctor to understand what my problem was.

I always was a really “active” person, full of desire to discover life in different ways, practicing all kind of sports and being happy most of the time.  It was like in the movies when all happens in slow motion and it seems you are a spectator of yourself. The doctor said that word that I never heart before —“Hypothyroidism”, describing what I had after analyzing the routine blood exams I had done.

Hypothyroidism, also called underactive thyroid or low thyroid, is a disorder of the endocrine system in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. It can cause a number of symptoms, such as poor ability to tolerate cold, a feeling of fatigue, tiredness, constipation, depression, and weight gain among others.

This was not good news at all for me. My doctor gave me a prescription and said, “We’ll see how it develops from now on”. You will have to take this medication for life. ..  After a few seconds of silence, I still did not understand anything. The doctor handled me a few brochures with related information about the thyroid. That day, started my battle against this “athletic killer”– not literally a killer, but it is very easy to give up and let the symptoms step over you.

Once I got home and started to read all the info received, I called my mother and asked her if she had ever been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. Unfortunately, it was in my DNA — my mother had when she was younger.

In time, after taking my medication for several months; I started to feel better, closer to the person I used to be, but never ever the same “me” again.  Since then, the battle continues every single day of my life, every morning I start the day taking medication (… and … do not forget it, it will be a bad day).

It’s a challenge to get through busy days of work with enough energy and then try and fit some good training in as well. Only in time, after so many years, I have been able to rethink my approach to life and continuing to be an Ironman triathlete. My advice for anyone with this condition — absolutely don’t give up training or racing! It’s probably better not to, probably it will be a reason to be excited about yourself having some clear objectives and goals to complete. Additionally, if we stop training, we tend to put on weight more easily and lose it more slowly than others despite the medication. Some people have knee problems to beat, we have thyroid problems. Don’t let the thyroid win 🙂

If you’re anything like me, you’ll wake up one day and have a bad training session and then realize, “hang on, I’ve been having bad training sessions for 6 weeks now”… and then it all clicks. If you get to a point where your training is not progressing, you’re falling asleep during the day for no apparent reason, feeling fatigue after a good night sleep, you’re putting on weight changes despite no alterations in training/diet or you have other factors that led you to look for diagnosis, go and see the doctor again and again, and insist until agrees to check your thyroid with the corresponding blood exams. A big number of people (women and men) are underdiagnosed since it is easy to get confused with other similar conditions. Unfortunately, it’s going to get worse over time (assuming you don’t want to have it surgically removed).

Some of the symptoms of hypothyroidism

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Muscle cramps and frequent muscle aches
  • Weight gain or increased difficulty losing weight
  • Coarse, dry hair
  • Dry, rough pale skin
  • Hair loss
  • Cold intolerance (you can’t tolerate cold temperatures like those around you)
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Memory loss

It’s been almost eight years now that I‘ve been battling hypothyroidism and despite all complications, I was able to complete my first full Ironman – 140.6 miles – at Mont Tremblant in 2016 (this is considered one of the most challenging races) and also six other Ironman 70.3 races and about 20 Olympic distance triathlons.  Currently I’m training to participate in Ironman Frankfurt this year. Hopefully I will be able to finish it. My thyroid does not control my life. It is me the one responsible for my own actions. I won’t quit. I won’t let my thyroid control me.

Hope this provides some guidance and help to any other fellow triathletes in a similar case like me eight years ago.


Just steamed, please

— By Angela Hofstra

“Would you please ask the kitchen to just steam the broccoli and not add butter or salt”.  “That’s how it is done, maam”.  “Really, just steamed?”.  “Yes, ma’am”.  Despite the promising conversation the broccoli was dripped with fat and salt, and didn’t get eaten by me. This is a common conversation between restaurant servers and me. Fortunately, although the servers often look at you oddly, most restaurants, even in the southern U.S., can manage to serve simple steamed vegetables if you ask.  Your colleagues might look at you oddly too, until they realize you are the one not gaining weight while travelling for business.

Fresh vegetables, simply steamed, are my go to “starter” — or appetizer, as we call it in Canada. This is a “survival tip” I learned from a consultant friend who travels extensively, and so “simply steamed” is how I request my vegetables to be cooked when the main course at a restaurant includes a “side”. As an athlete, I want healthy fuel whether I’m at home or away.  As a toxicologist in the agricultural industry, I don’t worry about trace amounts of pesticides; I eat conventionally raised food including things produced via genetic engineered (GMO).  What I do worry about is all the hidden sugar, salt and fat in food when I travel.

Here are some other quick tips I follow when travelling:

  • When away for just one or a two nights in one place, accommodation with cooking facilities isn’t always an option.  A travel set of plastic cutlery and a hotel room with a microwave make the grocery store a viable option for dinner.
  • Vegetables in a microwaveable bag plus some sushi works for me.
  • If no microwave, then a salad.
  • If there’s no grocery store nearby, the bigger drugstores often have food sections including some healthy microwaveable options.

Having solved my dinner woes, if only I could get tea made with boiling water while in the States!


— By Randy Cornelisse 


Has anyone ever told you that no matter what you’re doing, it should be fun, or there’s no point? Let’s put that oft-used statement into perspective. I have completed a few triathlons and half Ironman events… not fun! Not because of the distance, but because they kept the swimming portion in. I’m not a fan of “the swimming”. I don’t like to get into the cold car in the winter, hop in the always cold, eye-burning, nasal drip-instigating pool and practice endless, mind numbing, tedious end-to-end drills, which I never seem to improve on. Don’t misunderstand, I am not bitter, it is a fact. I was told by my lovely girlfriend, Danica, that after two years and a couple swim clinics I was the only person she ever knew that actual got worse. Needless to say I am back to duathlons. My motto is “Swimming is for Suckers”…or quite frankly those that enjoy it, or are good at swimming, but you can see how that wouldn’t be a catchy motto.

I’ve led you to believe that I am not detailed at all, but I do write out my workouts a couple weeks ahead of time and I do keep a log of past years workouts to compare. They are all however written in pencil and can be adjusted to suit the circumstances. Right now you may be wondering what those circumstances could be. The usual of course; maybe a nagging injury that needs to be nursed, an appointment, kids or of course an unusually loooong drawn out winter, that never wanted to quit and kept coming back for more, like your ex-wife’s lawyer…but I digress.

This paragraph is about specifics. Swimming — really, we’re still talking about swimming? Don’t do it! Swimming should only be done if you’re floating and there is a nice beach, in a tropical location! If however you ignore my sage advice and insist on swimming and are just starting, or are simply a horrible swimmer, like me, go to some clinics. Swimming is all technique, of which I have none. You can easily get hooked up with some clinics through MSC or your local pool. Running — you might be thinking that this guy must love running, because he’s a duathlete and runs twice in a race, well surprise! I don’t really like running. Quite often I find it a lot of work and quite tiresome. Come to think of it I believe it is almost as silly as swimming. If I’m always coming back to where I started, why am I leaving in such a rush in the first place? Track they say will make you faster. That’s true, but all people faster than me also know that fact and they aren’t getting slower. This makes me think they do a lot of track. The only reason I’m running track then is not to catch them, but to stay ahead of the runners behind me, who also know that track will make them faster. This all seems like a vicious circle, that we could end, by just agreeing to never do track again. Have you ever driven your car along your run route, to put water and fuel out, prior to your run and realized that it seemed like a ridiculous long way to run? If so you might be a marathoner, but that’s another article. Biking-Your thinking to yourself surely this is it, he loves biking, wrong again! Admittedly I look pretty cool, all decked out in my multi colored spandex, on a bike the costs more than my first car and everyone normal, that I know(I don’t really know a lot of normal people) asks “does it come with an engine”? Ha ha ha oh man that’s the first time I’ve heard that one. I have tried saddle after saddle, to find the most comfortable and ergonomic for my body. Makes me laugh just thinking of the fun times that it brings to my mind, but at least a saddle usually comes with the bike, as opposed to pedals. Really no pedals? Isn’t that like a car without wheels, Peanut butter without jam? Did you know any day I ride its’s windy? No really it’s always a head wind of a least 20kph and it shifts every time I change direction. They say hills will make you stronger. I don’t know who “They” are, but I don’t like hills and I thought this was supposed to be fun.

This all brings me to the title of this training article,Multisport…Why”. Obviously, because it’s fun! Have you not been paying attention? Put all these sports together, whether it is triathlon or duathlon, and it becomes fun. I know, I don’t completely get it either, but it does become fun. The fact that there is a great sense of camaraderie in the sport and that it’s great for your overall health and lifestyle adds to it. Don’t get me wrong, for sure individually each sport can be a real downer, but together they are like peanut butter and jelly or a new bike that comes with pedals. After all why do it if it’s not fun?

Reverse-engineer your happiness

— By Ken de Jong

When it came to motivating myself to get out there and have a better life, the direct approach just didn’t seem to work. I could pick a decent challenge, or I choose a weight loss goal and meet it, but I couldn’t sustain the change in lifestyle that I was truly after.

I therefore decided to reverse-engineer the process. That is, to put all the pieces in place –- but work from the end product backwards to where I would be starting.  Here’s how I did it:

  • End product? I wanted to be fit, get out and do an activity every day, eat a healthier diet, get better sleep and lower my stress
  • Next, I picked a sport that I enjoyed (or hoped I would enjoy). I chose triathlon because I liked to change things up and didn’t want to get bored with one activity
  • Next, I chose a big enough event to be my motivator. I started with a half Ironman. It seemed daunting, but I knew I could do it if I trained properly. The added motivators were the registration fee (not cheap and non-refundable) and announcing my goal on social media (this makes you accountable and you tend to get more spiritual support when your friends know you are attempting something difficult).
  • Next, was finding a training program. This is not easy because it has to suit your personality and your life. Mine was out of a book (Ironfit) and I liked it because it sent you running and biking for a time period, not a distance (swimming was by distance). If I needed to walk a bit, that was ok – as long as I put in the time.

The result? I committed to each day’s assigned training and trusted that it would see me finish the half Ironman (which it did).  I was out there every day (actually there is one rest day a week), which got me the fresh air that helped me lower my stress.  I improved my diet because I now saw food as a “fuel” and wanted the best quality.  I naturally started sleeping better because of the increase in activity and fresh air (although my shift work lifestyle still wreaks havoc on my sleep from time to time).

The best part is that two or three years later, I now have the “change in lifestyle” that I was seeking. I don’t view my training as “training” – I view it as a chance to get out and enjoy the world and reset myself.  Many people still quiz me about my races that are coming up – but the truth is, the races and the ribbons are not the true prize – the new life is!

2017 Ambassador Post-Race Reports

If you are wondering about what kind of race conditions you will find at a given race, our Ambassador Team reports might be of interest.

2017 Welland


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2017 Ambassadors Articles

Articles, tips, reports and useful resources from the Ambassador Team.

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