Those who’ve been following Brittany’s athletic career as she advances toward the highest level of triathlon know she has dealt with repeated health setbacks recently, so I decided to check in with her to see how she’s doing and what she has planned for the season.
Thanks for being available for this, Brittany. What's going on with your health?
I took all of November/December off from training due to respiratory infections and recovery from Reactivated Epstein–Barr Virus which I was diagnosed with in March 2021. I even left my engineering / project management job to focus on getting healthy, seeking joy, and getting back to some training. I also began working as a brand consultant for Varlo, a start-up multisport apparel company, and this role and my team has been such a positive change for me.
On December 23rd I had nasal / sinus surgery to correct a deviated septum and remove polyps caused by repeated infections. Though the recovery was uncomfortable and felt like a sinus infection for the first four weeks, this has been a game changer in my breathing and overall recovery. It is amazing to be able to properly breathe out of my nose!
I returned to light training and minimum running as of January 7th. I used an Eleve hyperbaric chamber in the recovery process four times per week and meditation daily. My body was very tired and so I needed lots of sleep and nutrition. Because of this I had to skip or alter training frequently, but my coaches (Justin Trolle and George Heidinger) were very adaptive and helped create the perfect custom plan for me. We also frequently adjust workouts on the fly and the focus has been on quality over quantity as well as adaptation to training. I have implemented a Whoop band to track my metrics and I share this data with my coaches.
It was a slow rebuild for six weeks with focus on nutrition in January/February. After my key sessions and every session in the gym, I like to make a protein smoothie with Enduro Bites protein powder, almond or oat milk, cinnamon, and ice. I blend it all together and it tastes like a blended chai! I have continued quality work in the gym three times per week along with mobility and nasal breath work daily. I began working with Jackie Miller from BritFit and she has helped me a lot with mobility and nasal breathing. I lost a lot of mobility and muscle mass with so much time off, so focus was on getting stronger and more mobile before adding back to triathlon-specific training. We added in a little speed work to simply prime the muscles for some smaller races in March, but we needed to be careful to avoid injury.
In March I raced the Clermont and Sarasota Elite Draft Legal Super Sprints to knock the rust off. My training load was limited to 15 hours per week. Running mileage only up to 20-25 miles per week, and swimming 12-15K per week.
By the end of March, I started training on a TT bike to prepare for some non-draft racing, which we plan to add in this season as well. It has taken time to get comfortable and dial in the fit, but I feel like it is starting to come together. I have also began hitting my first longer distance sets in pool and solid long tempo runs, which are my favorite kinds of workouts.
During April I'll focus on continuing the work in the TT position and building bike volume while working strength and mobility.
I'm working towards the Herbalife LA Triathlon on May 15th. This will be my first elite non-draft race since 2016, and I am excited for the challenge of racing a different format. I think the non-draft work has also enabled me to build some more base, which I have lacked due to the extended off-season for me.
For June and July I'll continue to focus on World Cups and Continental Cups with the goal of getting a discretionary selection to the Commonwealth Games in July.
Ironman Boulder 70.3 is a possibility, along with some draft-legal races in August. I’m choosing not to put any pressure on myself at this time and to instead listen to my body, keep building consistency in training, and race when my body is ready to do so. I can honestly say I am loving the process and can feel the improvement over the last few months, which is a great feeling after a tough 2021 season. It’s key to always keep looking ahead and pushing forward!
I am also excited to make my second attempt at the Pikes Peak Ascent in September. This race was a bucket list event for me last year, but with my competitive nature, I am motivated to improve on last years’ time and to learn about myself in the process. Further down the road this fall, I'm looking at more World Cups, Continental Cups, and some non-draft races if they fit in the schedule.
Wow, you have a lot going on! Your willingness to step away from triathlon-specific training to address underlying health issues should pay dividends. A lot of athletes wouldn't have had the patience and foresight to do this.
Thanks for taking the time to chat. I'm excited to see your progress through the season.
Your hard work, belief, perseverance and positive attitude will bring your success. Thanks for sharing your story Brittany.
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