3/1/17

Athlete Spotlight: Nicole Manning - Balancing triathlon training, a social life and a High School education.

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Name: Nicole Manning

Age: 17 

City/State: McLean, VA

Primary sport: Triathlon

How many years in the sport: One year

What Trimarni services have you used: Nutrition consult, sweat testing

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Describe your athletic background and how you discovered your current sport?

Growing up I swam competitively and played a little water polo, but swimming was my main focus. I would say that I was a decent swimmer. I was pretty involved in athletics in middle school, but running was not something I enjoyed -- I would do anything to avoid it! A common phrase for me was "I do not run!" When I started specific strength training for my swimming soon after I began high school, I started working with a triathlon coach (my now tri coach). Swimming was going pretty well for me, but I hadn't reached a level I was hoping to attain. I knew the triathlon team existed, but never did I give much thought to it until my strength coach brought it up towards the end of my sophomore year (just about a year ago!). He asked me to come try it out and at first, I thought he was kidding and then when I realized he wasn't, I was so super hesitant - land sports were pretty foreign to me! AND, this meant that I would have to run! I finally decided to try running and cycling as cross training for swimming. At that time, I had no running or cycling background besides middle school gym class warm-up runs (which kinda counts as running) and family bike rides to the local coffee shop as a kid, but I actually took to it really quickly. After a bit of triathlon training, I had my first race, where I ran my first ever 5k, which was at the end of a swim and a bike! This was so crazy to me! Within a few months, I became fully invested into the sport of triathlon. I am now finding myself improving and experiencing athletic success and I am having the time of my life! Who would have known I'd love this sport so much!?!

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What keeps you training and racing in your current sport?

I believe it's my personal drive as an athlete, but also the support of my coaches and teammates. With their help, it definitely makes it a lot easier to stay committed! I love the personal challenge, the competition aspect and it's so much fun! With the three sports and the recovery, nutrition, learning, strength training and everything else that goes into it, it's hard for triathlon to get boring! There's always something to focus on and you can develop so much. The feeling I get after races is SO worth every hard part of training. But also, I really enjoy the hard workouts too. It's also an added bonus that most triathletes are super interesting and nice. Triathlon is such a great community with some pretty hardcore people! 

Tell us about your school life
I'm a high school student at a private school in Virginia. That's a full load! On the weekends, I enjoy coaching and instructing younger kids for swimming.

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How does your school life affect training and how do you balance school and training?School definitely has its challenges to training, with long days of learning and the inability to control a good part of my daily schedule. Managing homework, studying, a training schedule, and recovery is no easy feat, but I do my best to be really efficient with the time I have throughout the day. I try to get things done for school earlier in the day so that I don't have to worry about assignments when I'm training. My coach helps me plan my training schedule to work with my busy and more relaxed school days. This has definitely given me more energy to focus on my schooling and training, without feeling overwhelmed. Also, asking for and accepting for help, by my parents, siblings, friends, teachers, and coaches has proved to be a big asset for me.

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Any tips/tricks as to how to balance school and training?

There will always be things that you don't want to do, when you have to do them, but sometimes you just have to suck-it-up and not procrastinate.
Do you have any siblings? 
I have two dogs and two brothers.

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How do you balance triathlon training with your parents and siblings? My family isn't all that into the sport of triathlon, but they're still super supportive of me in it. They're learning along the way with me, but sometimes, it's clear there's a barrier and they don't always get it. My parents help me understand my responsibilities and I communicate to them with what I can really handle with both school and training.Fortunately, my parents are super supportive and they help me with certain responsibilities when I'm really crunched for time. I am super grateful for my parents and I don't mind asking them for help. People can't offer help if they don't know that help is needed.


Any tips for other young athletes when parents may not "get it"? Definitely be honest about your goals for triathlon but make sure you know what your responsibilities are and what your parents expect from you.

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How do you balance triathlon with a social life?  
My social life and training is pretty connected. I'll be the first to admit, however, that sometimes my social life gets pushed to the side when it comes to training or the few extra hours of sleep that I need as a triathlete. But this is OK to me because I try to use my time wisely and still make time for my friends. If I don't have a lot of time between workouts or I know I need to wake up very early in the morning for a training session, I can't be out too late with my friends. Instead, I'll plan to see my friends for lunch the next day. Or, instead of going shopping, I'll invite my friends over to watch a movie. Allowing myself the time to work on my athletic goals is a priority, but when I have time and energy available, I enjoy my social time. But then again, it doesn't take a lot of energy to do something small for someone else, especially a friend.

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Do you have a recent race result, notable performance or lesson learned that you'd like to share?
I've learned that transitions can be super key on race day, so don't overlook those as a triathlete! Practice transitions in training. Also, double checking everything on race day morning, like that your chain is all set or your laces on your shoes are how you like them to be, can save you a lot of time and worry on race day!

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What are your top tips for athletes, as it relates to staying happy, healthy and performing well?
-Listen to your body and what it's telling you. With that, definitely don't neglect your recovery, stretching and foam rolling! -Eat to fuel yourself.

-Give yourself the occasional off day or recovery day for both a mental and physical recharge.

Sometimes I just want to go go go, but assessing what's actually best for me long term is a lot more constructive. Connected with that, staying on top of your homework and maintaining good relationships with those around you, makes for a lot less stress in your life outside of training. It allows you more energy to push outside of your comfort zone in your training sessions.

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How would you define athletic success as it relates to your personal journey?Athletics are something that have become a really important part of my life and it is part of my identity, so success as an athlete is really important for me. But, just enjoying the journey along the way is something that helps me grow as a person, and something I'll look back on and really appreciate as I get older.


What's your favorite post-race meal, drink or food?So hard to say! I'm a huge sushi fan, but immediately post race PB and J or watermelon always seems to hit the spot!

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What key races do you have planned in 2017?I have quite a few races on my schedule, but some of the bigger races (hopefully) include: Jr. Elite Nationals in August, possibly Age Group Nationals, and then Age Group World Championships in Rotterdam in September!

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What are your athletic goals for the next 5 years?I'm not really sure! I don't want to limit myself. I want to really push myself in triathlon and see where that takes me. I'll be a senior in high school next year and looking at colleges, so I will see how triathlon fits into my future plans. Staying healthy and enjoying what I'm doing is the most important.....but future successes are super welcomed!



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