>Pip Taylor is an Australian-born triathlete who you’ve no doubt seen before. Not only is she a fixture on the race circuit, she’s a regular contributor to Triathlete magazine.
Not long ago, TriMadness had the opportunity to sit down with Pip to talk nutrition, the business of being a pro triathlete, and life in Lawrence, Kansas.
And now, this week’s “Ten Questions With…Pip Taylor
TM: Professional triathlete. Certified nutritionist. Which “job” would you say you’re better at (or maybe enjoy more), and why?
PT: Love both. My primary goals currently are as an athlete and that is how my time and energy is prioritised. Am very much looking forward though to more nutrition study and work at some point in the future.
TM: The fact that Americans are generally the least healthy eating population on the planet is well publicized. What do you think is the main culprit for our abysmal eating habits, in general?
PT: I don’t think it is just Americans by any means, but people in general are just out of touch with what they are eating. We are too easily sold a message that we “don’t have time” or “don’t know how” and I think there are very confusing messages from the food industry telling us what is and isn’t healthy.
TM: Most of the folks will read this interview are busy: kids, careers, triathlon training. What we eat often becomes secondary. How can we better balance the needs of life with the needs of training & proper nutrition?
PT: Without good health any training you do becomes baseless. The same for life in general – how can you expect to perform and function well at anything if you don’t have the foundations in place? People often get the priorities wrong – good nutrition should come at the top of the list rather than as an afterthought. The other issue is that people wrongly assume that eating well means that a lot of time has to be spent. It doesn’t. I can guarantee you that I can cook a healthy meal faster than ordering take out or sticking a frozen meal in the microwave.
TM: You’ve talked about food as being one of your most favorite things. Could you share with us your “typical” menu for the week leading up to a big race (for example, a 70.3)?
PT: I don’t really have a typical menu or day that I follow. I am always on the lookout for new and interesting things and have even been known to enter races purely for the food opportunities that come with it – whether that is a great restaurant, farmers market or anything else edible. Having said that I do of course watch what I eat – making sure that it is meeting my needs for training and racing whether that is getting to race weight, adequate recovery or fuel for a key session.
TM: What are your thoughts on some nutritional fads that athletes employ (for example, the Paleo diet, whole body cleanse, etc). Are these beneficial?
PT: Nutritional fads are often just that. I will leave that to others. I think good healthy nutrition does not need to be labelled and I don’t really think that there are any foods that are entirely evil – its all about balance. However I will say that for some people following a plan that they believe in gives them great confidence – so if they believe they are doing the best job by following a certain way of eating, even if there is little or no scientific reason for it, and as long as there is nothing unhealthy about it, then go for it.
TM: You split your time between Lawrence, KS and Lennox Head, AUS. Lawrence isn’t really known as a triathlon hotbed. What led you to chose Lawrence as your US home, versus Boulder, Arizona or San Diego?
PT: Lawrence is a great town. Its entirely liveable – not too big or too small, great training facilities, trails and roads, incredibly welcoming helpful people, great restaurants and farmers markets and also centrally located for getting across the country for races. The fact it is not a triathlon hotbed is a bonus!! Nice and quiet.
TM: One aspect of the life of a pro triathlete that folks might not think about is all the travel that comes with your job. Do you have any funny (or depressing) stories from all of your travels?
PT: Oh lots. I have been racing (and hence travelling) for the last decade (wow that makes me sound really old) and not only in the US but all around the world. The amount of time I have spent in planes and airports is depressing enough in itself.
TM: Could you describe what the “business end” of triathlon is like – what types of commitments do you have with your sponsors, how often do you do appearances, etc? How does that all balance with a full time job of training?
PT: People often think that being a professional athlete involves nothing more than training and racing. And yes for some athletes it does. But I have some fantastic sponsors and I like to think that I work hard for them outside of race day as well. I actually love this aspect but yes my days are fairly constantly busy. I wouldn’t have it any other way though – I like to be busy.
TM: What races do you have on tap for 2011?
PT: 2011 is an interesting year race wise – there is so much going on. I will actually be doing a lot more Olympic distance races again this year – it is the distance I really love and also mean that I can race more frequently. My full race calendar is up on my website http://www.piptaylor.com/
TM: We all have some embarrassing tri related event…falling at a light because we couldn’t unclip, putting our helmet on backwards at T1, taking wrong turns and missing part of a run course (OK…those are some of MY embarrassing moments). What are some of yours?
PT: Nothing. I have never ever ever had any even slightly or remotely embarrassing incidents – it must just be you!!! : ) (Really? After this many years racing I can’t even begin to think where to start!!)