05 Jul Interview with Squirt Ambassador Bradley Weiss, 2 x Xterra World Champ:
Squirt Cycling Products: How did you find your niche / passion for training and when did it get serious?
Brad Weiss: With a relatively late start to the sport of Triathlon I had my introduction at the age of 19 when my father entered myself and my two brothers into a local sprint distance race. At the time we only owned mountain bikes so despite this being a road race we took part on our MTB’s which was rather fitting with my eventual shift to professional off road triathlon racing / XTERRA. Having competed in predominantly team sports such as Rugby and Cricket while growing up I developed a very keen sense of healthy competition and loved pushing myself physically. My love of Rugby soon got me into the gym, and I really thrived on the structure a gym program gave to my week, both the short- and long-term strength/power development was incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. Throughout high school I maintained a strict gym program which allowed me to compete in the sport of Rugby at an extremely competitive level. Soon however I realized Rugby was no longer the sport for me and I was on the hunt for a new release for my competitive drive. Stumbling across the sport of Triathlon was a complete accident but would change the path of my life forever. I quickly fell in love with the sport as well as the community surrounding it and simply could not get enough despite being a rubbish swimmer. The initial development was fast and incredibly addictive, slowly creeping my way up the results sheet until eventually I was good enough to compete for a position on our national age group team. My first international trip was in 2011 where I competed at the ITU age group world championships in Beijing, China ultimately finishing 3rd in the 20-24 age group. Watching the professional race that year solidified what I already knew, I had to make this sport my life goal!
Squirt Cycling Products: Introduce us to your support team and give us a glimpse of your training regime.
Brad Weiss: Over the years I have built a phenomenal team around me who have completely taken over the day-to-day decision-making process allowing me to focus on the simple task of executing each training session, to the best of my ability, and leaving the bigger picture in the hands of the true professionals. Ernie Gruhn has been guiding my triathlon journey almost from the very beginning. Ernie is an incredible mind with an unprecedented feel for what an athlete is capable of, having coached some of the worlds highest performing athletes including the likes of Elana Meyer. I know I am in the best possible hands with Ernie guiding the ship. Despite him being predominantly my running coach Ernie remains influential in both race selection and periodisation allowing me to be at my best when it really matters. Ernie is an incredibly conservatitive coach never pushing us too hard and ensuring we remain smooth and in control of each session. There is no glory session, no workout which will take you from zero to hero. I wish it were the case but as the saying goes, “consistency is key”, and there is no coach more fixated on consistency than coach Ernie.
After winning the 2017 XTERRA World Championships I made the decision to switch my focus from off road XTERRA triathlon back to the on-road format, Ironman 70.3 distance in particular. I knew I needed help in making this a successful transition and immediately reached out to Dr Mike Posthumus who welcomed me with open arms and has been one of the biggest assets in my corner ever since. Mike coaches a host of professional cyclists under the Science2Sport Coaching platform based out of the Sport Science Institute in Cape Town. Despite his limited experience in Triathlon coaching specifically, Mike was the perfect person for the job and has been incredibly influential in my career ever since. Using the Training Peaks platform Mike is able to carefully map out my year and ensure we are always heading in the right direction without accumulating any unnecessary fatigue.
While Mike takes care of all my cycling requirements from the day-to-day programming to overall load management and periodisation, I have recently started working with Warwick Cross as my strength and conditioning coach. We have been implementing a velocity-based strength program which incorporates both speed and strength elements to ensure I am both the strongest and fastest endurance athlete while maintaining a big focus on injury prevention. With a background in strength and conditioning in the gym, for Rugby purposes in my early days as an athlete, I believe I have brought over a massive competitive advantage into the endurance sports world and it’s one I don’t plan to neglect any time soon.
Squirt Cycling Products: How does yout mental state, sleep, nutrition, etc, affect training and performance and what do those elements look like in the life of Bradley Weiss?
Brad Weiss: These are all incredibly important factors when breaking down what constitutes a successful professional athlete and how they ultimately perform come race day! The world of professional sport has become incredibly competitive and to perform at the highest level there’s so much more which goes into it that just a good program.
Sleep is the foundation for recovery and should be made a priority when training to reach optimum performance. This is a time your body can focus on repairing the repetitive ‘breakdown’ of muscles from the training effect. I prioritize a minimum of 8 – 9hrs of sleep every night, and if this is not possible because of an early morning training commitment, I will try and get a 1hr nap in during the day. The quality of sleep is even more important for me, I try to sleep in as dark an environment as possible (with no blue light infiltration) and I have gotten into the habit of sleeping with earplugs. These help to limit sleep disturbances – never underestimate the power of good sleep!
Then my nutrition philosophy is very simple, whole REAL foods are important with adequate complete proteins and enough carbohydrates to allow my body to recover from one training session to another. Complete proteins ensure I receive an adequate amount of essential amino acids (EAA), which are the building blocks of protein and are necessary for building and repairing muscles/ tissue in our bodies as well as aiding the body in the production of important hormones and enzymes for healthy bones, cartilage and blood. I try to avoid any processed foods and really make a conscious effort to eliminate added sugar from my diet, with my main sugar source coming from dairy and other whole food carbohydrate sources. I do not restrict whole carbohydrates, only processed/ refined carbs.
The topic of mental state is an interesting one. I’ve always had the privilege of having a relatively positive mindset, believing 100% in my ability, and having the utmost confidence in my team I choose to surround myself with. I honestly believe that as an athlete I need to trust and fully commit to the training philosophies of my coaches, if there is a weakness in trust, I cannot reach the true potential of the training outcomes. A coach/ athlete relationship is a two-way working relationship, and it is as much my responsibility to execute what my coaches have prescribed as it is theirs to try and draw the best from me. With this in mind, it allows me to fully submit to the process of training and the result is heightened confidence when approaching a race or even a new training block. Mental state is not something you obtain but more something you acquire and create, and in general these are the building blocks that allow me to create a positive mental state for myself: confidence, trust, positivity, and commitment.
Squirt Cycling Products: What products do you swear by and why do these impact your training and racing so much?
Brad Weiss: The products I swear by are an accumulation of tried and tested products over my last decade of racing. First and foremost is Squirt Cycling Products; there are very few products that actively work to better my equipment. Squirt Bicycle Lube is one of those products and is basically an added warranty to my bikes. The epitome of ‘dynamite comes in small packages’, it is small enough to take everywhere and there is not a single race that I compete in that I do not use this product on my drivetrain.
Additionally, I’ve come across multiple nutrition supplements along the way. Nuun Hydration is my go-to electrolyte drink, and not a day goes by that I don’t use Nuun in some way – whether it be hydrating on the bike or simply after a workout as part of my recovery.
Rush Natural Nutrition is another good favourite. A whole food source of energy in the form of a training bar. Containing high energy food sources like dates, chia seeds and nuts, it is almost an instant source of energy when training and far more effective and healthier for the gut than what an artificial energy gel can offer.
When it comes to my profession of swim, bike and run these are my favourite go-to products. I’m lucky enough to have great supporting sponsors that stay true to my beliefs as an athlete and provide some of the best products that the current market has to offer:
Swim – ROKA Sports, their wetsuits are industry leading and my current favourite product is their MAVERIK x2 Wetsuit, it literally took me from mid-pack swimmer to front pack swimmer.
Bike – It’s no secret that Specialized has some of the best bikes the market has to offer. The Specialized S-Works Epic and Specialized S-Works Shiv Disk with SRAM RED e-Tap AXS are my favourite race bikes.
Run – PUMA has a wide range of products for all levels and interests. Their recent refocus to performance products have really excited me and their PUMA Ultraride Running Shoes are my current favourite.
Squirt Cycling Products: If there are 3 elements to improve your riding what do you recommend?
Brad Weiss: Strength training, periodisation for conditioning and CONSISTENCY
Squirt Cycling Products: There’s an ever-growing market for cyclist, what do you recommend to improve performance and keep hitting milestones?
Brad Weiss: Although an ever-growing market, there is no purchasable product that will take you from zero to hero. Invest in creating a sustainable environment for yourself. There is no ‘quick fix to greatness’; it takes years of commitment and lifestyle change. My biggest advice to anyone striving to be their best is finding a way to make their training environment sustainable, if it is not sustainable it cannot be consistent. Find a way to make it enjoyable and fun for everyone involved. If it steals too much from family time, find a way to include your family. A happy environment is a successful environment and I really believe that to keep improving performance, sustainability and consistency are of utmost importance. I love what I do, and if you can find a way to enjoy the process, you’ll keep hitting those milestones and the results will show. Remember to have fun!