INTERVIEW WITH AARON ALBERT: METTLE MAN

pumped

Aaron Albert is one tough hombre. At 6 feet, 210 pounds, he is a former Division-III college footballer who completed Ironman Louisville in 2013 and is currently gearing up for Ironman Texas in mid-May. He is married to Sabeth Albert, a former colleague of ours at Farrar Straus Giroux.

So, Aaron, what’s your history with running and the triathalon? Is it something you’ve been doing since college, or are you one of those college jocks who let yourself go a bit and then got back into the game?

Age thirty-five is when I really started to get into endurance sports. I tried boxing for a while but got fed up getting punched in the face.

I’ve always been a better-than-average runner, and during college football my position was wide receiver/tight end . . . Silly story: We used to have a conditioning test at the start of every season. I was far from the fastest at the forty or strongest in the weight room BUT we had a few-mile run that I always won . . . Coach would yell out “Albert, you might as well go out for the cross-country team because you sure can’t play football!”

Give us a snapshot of your weekly training routine for your spring triathalon. 

Here is a schedule of a perfect week of Ironman training:

  • Monday   swim
  • Tuesday   lift
  • Wednesday   run or bike
  • Thursday   bikram class 
  • Friday   swim
  • Saturday   long run / short bike
  • Sunday   long bike / short run

That makes me tired just hearing it. How have you done this winter with all the snow and cold?

This winter has been crushing. All my running is done outside. Have gotten into snowshoe running, which has huge crossover benefits with regular running. All my biking is done on the trainer in the unheated barn where I also lift. I swim at the local YMCA.

Hold your horses. Barn?

I’ve never been a couch potato. When we moved to Connecticut fourteen years ago, part of the home search equation was a place where I could have my own exercise space. I now have the MAN BARN.

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Oh, man. I can’t wait for folks to see these pictures. This place is a workout paradise.

Come on up. I’ll spot you.

You commute in from Connecticut to your job on Wall Street, so that sucks up a huge amount of free time right there.

I used to get up at 2:30 a.m. and train for and hour and a half before getting on the 5 a.m. train. As I got older, the sessions became slow and sloppy. I will now train at 9–11 p.m. and get to bed no later than 11:30, then wake up at 4:15 a.m. for the 5 a.m. train. I BLACK OUT ON THE MTA. It’s the best forty-five minutes of sleep ever.

As any endurance athlete with a partner and/or kids knows, one of the keys to training success is having their support. How does your family help your efforts?

Without the support of my family Ironman training would be 100% impossible. My wife was hand-selected for me by the endurance gods. No way I could do it without her support.

Aaron and his wife, Sabeth, at finish line of his first full IM  in.Louisville August 2013.  Sabeth says, "As a spectator and spouse I was a bundle of nerves waiting and getting glimpses of him at various stages and tracking on the IronTrac app - had no idea what to expect it was first full for me in that regard too - the emotional intensity is beyond comparison when you finally catch sight of your loved one approaching the finish line.
Aaron and his wife, Sabeth, at finish line of his first full IM in.Louisville August 2013. Sabeth says, “As a spectator and spouse I was a bundle of nerves waiting and getting glimpses of him at various stages and tracking on the IronTrac app – had no idea what to expect it was first full for me in that regard too – the emotional intensity is beyond comparison when you finally catch sight of your loved one approaching the finish line.

What kind of runner are you? Fast and furious?

Basically I’ve become a thumper! I’m not fast but I get the job done. Arthritic left knee due to two surgeries . . . yipee football!

BUT . . . I still love to run. Nothing is more satisfying than completing a fifteen-mile run by eight on a Saturday morning and having the entire day ahead of you. Except when you have to take your five-year-old son to a b-day party at the “Jump Zone” and you are cramping up in the corner! Folks think I’m anti-social on purpose . . . HA. It’s because I’m in a constant state of muscle fatigue.

Do you take time off from IM training during the year, and if so what do you do during your down time?

I pretty much train year round. Just the intensity levels and length of routines really change. When not in IM mode, I’ll lift more frequently and heavier.

Wow. It’s an amazing commitment on your part, of time and energy. What makes it worthwhile to you?

What makes it worthwhile is the ability to see if you’ve still “got it,” to find out how much punishment can you REALLY take.

If you have moments of doubt, how do you push through? 

Plenty moments of doubt. You just have to develop the mental fortitude to PUSH ON and get the job done without BLOWING yourself up!

In the fall 2014 Aaron completed the 7.5 mile Little Red Lighthouse swim and in 2010 he ran the NYC Marathon.

Barefoot.