Cam Dye is having one heck of a year: five, count 'em five, first-place finishes thus far (Lifetime Minneapolis, REv3 Knoxville, Rev3 Wisconsin-Dells, Columbia, TriRock Philly), with several big races left on the docket. He's currently fifth in the standings for the Life Time Tri Series - with a big race at Oceanside remaining - and this week, he's prepping for the Hy-Vee 5150 US Championship, taking place Sept. 1 in Des Moines. In between finishing renovations on his new house, spending time with his wife Natalie and their son Liam, he lent his expert advice - and humor - to answer five questions posed by our Facebook fans earlier this month.
1. What wakes you up in the morning, gets you amped to put in the grueling miles and keep going even when your body wants to quit? - Ashley H.
Well, usually my son wakes me up in the morning, or if I am lucky, the alarm clock.
Seriously though, there are two things that keep me chasing my dreams of professional triathlon; my desire to be the absolute best I can possibly be, and my family. The burning desire to compete has been with me as long as I can remember, and triathlon is the venue with which I currently fulfill that need. I have always wanted to be the best that I can be, and have always believed that would mean the best in the world. I am not there yet, but I am getting closer every year, so the desire to improve still burns.
The second part of the equation is the fact that triathlon is not only my passion, but also my profession, and therefore I have to be able to provide for my family. So far, triathlon has given me amazing opportunities and I hope that I can continue to work hard, win races, and provide for my family while at the same time chasing my dreams. Honestly, there could be no better motivator to get out the door in the morning than the thought of your kids.
2. How do you know when to back off on the training to prevent an injury? What are some of the clues your body sets off? - Jeffery L.
This is a great question, and I think just by asking this you hit on the importance of listening to one's body when determining when to push on and when to pull the plug. For me, there are a couple things I try to look at when evaluating a new/lingering pain or discomfort.
First off, is it a new thing, and is there any reason why I should be feeling it? For example, is my back tight because I lifted a bunch of boxes last night? If I can't justify it, then I continue what I am doing for a few minutes and see if it gets worse. Generally, if a pain is getting worse, then whatever I am doing is the cause and I pull the plug on that session. I am always of the mindset that there are few, if any, sessions that would be better to push through and be laid up for a few days or weeks as opposed to just cutting it short, taking a day off and then getting back to training.
Secondly, I always try and think back to the issue and if it is one that I have experienced before. As endurance athletes we are very much creatures of habit, so usually if you really think about it, you will remember that your knee has hurt like that before, and remember that it was just from a really tight IT band. Then you know how to treat it. Always listen to your body and, if you are like me, err on the side of caution.
3. What do you eat the day before and day of a triathlon to prepare? - Lisa W.
This is a popular question and I will share all, but do keep in mind that everyone is very different when it comes to food, and I almost exclusively race short-course. I also have an iron stomach.
Day before the race:
Breakfast - a massive quantity, usually eggs, bacon, pancakes, toast, coffee and basically anything else that looks good.
Lunch - usually a sandwich, turkey or Italian. Subway or Quizno's are in most places so these meals are just convenient.
Dinner - pizza, either BBQ chicken or Hawaiian. It's a bit of a superstition.
Fluids - tons of water, and lots of First Endurance EFS in one of Nathan's Fire & Ice bottles to make sure I am well hydrated. Fluids are easy to keep up, but hard to catch up, so don't get behind.
Breakfast (right when I wake up) - 2 packets of brown sugar instant oatmeal (which can easily be made in a hotel coffee machine), bottle of First Endurance EFS
Pre-race - 1/2 of a First Endurance EFS gel flask and some FE pre-race capsules on the way to swim start
As I mentioned I mainly do short-course races, which for me means 2 hours or less. When I do a longer race, I will give up pizza for a more standard chicken and pasta, and will focus even more on hydration. I will also add a bagel or muffin on race morning to start off the day with some extra calories.
4. How did it feel to win the Rev3 Knoxville race after coming up short several times before and what have you learned from those previous losses that set you up for the win this time? - Dan L.
Winning is always an amazing feeling, and this one in particular with my wife and son waiting at the finish line was extra sweet.
As you said, after coming in a close second the two years before I had a bit of a chip on my shoulder and had definitely circled the race on the calendar, but frankly there was nothing specific I needed to do differently. I had swum and ridden really well the two prior years and just came up short on the run. But knowing that, my strategy was the same because I know that it is my best way to win a race and that I just needed to run a little bit better.
5. What do you do when you want to quit? - "Running My first Marathon AFTER Marlboros and Obesity"
I remember why I am doing it. I think about my family and how my racing is what puts food on the table. I think about my son and how I would never ever want him to be disappointed in me. I think about the fact that I love to race and train, and that this has always been a dream of mine, and I knew going in pain and suffering was part of it. Then I try and refocus on something specific, like my breathing, or my cadence, or my running form, and really try to nail that. The mind will go a million places during a race or training session and the trick is just pulling it back to a productive place. Remember why you are doing what you are thinking about quitting, and it won't be tough to find a reason to keep pushing.
Wish Cam good luck on Facebook or send him a Tweet at @CamDyeTri!