Essential Sports Nutrition


Athlete spotlight: Christine McKnight - Stretching goals and training hard at 69 years of age

Name: Christine McKnight

Age: 69

City/State: Saratoga Springs, New York

Primary sport: Triathlon 

How many years in the sport: 20 years

What Trimarni services have you used: Nutrition consult, Sweat Testing


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

I graduated from a smalltown high school in western  Michigan in 1965.  There were no sports for girls back then and  no female athlete role models for young women either.  I  was sedentary until my late 30s, when I then took up running. I quickly discovered that I had a competitive mentality.  I was  xclusively a runner for 12 years, and I raced a lot.  But, as the running injuries mounted, I embraced cross training and  discovered triathlon as a 50 ­year­ old.  Since then, I have completed more than 110 triathlons, from sprints to the Ironman distance.

What keeps you training and racing in your current sport?

I embrace triathlon as a lifestyle, rather than just a hobby.  Triathlon has given me health and fitness and a wonderful circle of friends, an active lifestyle and a positive outlook on life, that anything is possible.  Among my triathlon friends, I am known to frequently say: "How lucky are we?!?"

What do you do for work?
I am retired from a 35­-year career in wire service  journalism, public relations work, and magazine  publishing.

How does your work life affect training and how do you balance work and training?

Being retired is a huge advantage.  But I'm actually pretty  busy!  I am careful about my volunteer commitments and how I use my time.  As an older athlete, I try to carefully pace myself through my training week, and I pay a lot of  attention to recovery and rest.  I also work two afternoons a week in my local bicycle shop, Blue Sky Bicycles, and I write (freelance) about triathlon for a local publication called  Adirondack Sports and Fitness.
Any tips/tricks as to how to balance work and training?

Keep your life and commitments as simple as possible.  Be  clear about your priorities. Don't be afraid to say "no" to requests if they don't fit into those priorities.

Do you have kids?
My husband Jim and I have two adult children, a son and a daughter, and four granddaughters, ages 7 years to 15  months.

How does having kids affect your training? How do you balance a family and training? 

One of the values my coaching group, T3 Coaching, embraces is "family first." I really buy into that.  Sure, we want to train with dedication, but never at the expense of our families and relationships.

What tips and tricks do you have for other athletes who struggle to balance training with family? 

My son and daughter were in grade school when I took up triathlon. Sometimes I took them with me on a training outing,  sometimes I negotiated a deal with my husband, and sometimes I got a babysitter.  (Here's to babysitters!) As  they got older, they began to participate in runs and triathlons themselves.  But family commitments have always trumped training. 

How do you balance your training with your partner? Any tips or tricks for keeping your partner happy while you train to reach your personal goals?

I am so lucky!  My dear, sweet husband Jim is very proud to be married to a triathlete ­­- he often humorously introduces himself as "Christine McKnight's husband."  But major race decisions and annual goals always involve his input.  We are careful to set aside special times with each other, even if it is only a few minutes every day.  We play golf together often (my other passion), and we enjoy going out for a quiet dinner.  Be sure to make your partner feel special each and every day, and thank that special person for being your Sherpa. 

Do you have a recent race result, notable performance or lesson
learned that you'd like to share?

It's important to have stretch goals.  Also, never doubt  yourself ­­and trust your training. That's how I got to the  Ironman World Championships in 2013. At my qualifying race, Eagleman 70.3, I was in last place of eight women in  my age group coming out of the water. Not good!  After the  bike, I was in fifth place, and my run moved me up to third place. Miraculously, I got a roll­down. Good things happen  if you give it a go, compete hard, stay in the moment and don't give up.

What are your top tips for athletes, as it relates to staying happy, healthy and performing well?

1.  Be good to your body.  Place a priority on how you recover, and give yourself plenty of rest.
2.  Keep your life balanced and avoid over commitments.   Pace yourself through the day, the week and the season.
3.  Cultivate your relationships.  Surround yourself with  positive, caring individuals who can help you create an environment in which you can succeed.

How would you define athletic success as it relates to your personal journey? 

For me, it's about just being able to stay healthy and showing up at the starting line, ready to compete. That's a  huge victory even before the race starts.

What's your favorite post-race meal, drink or food?
I really love a smoothie, almost any kind.

What key races do you have planned in 2017?

  • Eagleman 70.3 (June 11) - qualified for 70.3 World Championship 
  • Ironman Lake Placid (July 23) 
  • 70.3 World Championships in Chattanooga (Sept. 9) 
  • Stretch goal: Ironman World Championships in Kona,  October (dependent on Lake Placid)

What are your athletic goals for the next 5 years?

To continue competing at the highest level possible, at least through the age of 75. Hopefully, blaze some new trails for older female athletes and set some AG records.