Athlete of the Month, April 2017 - Chris Berg
Athlete of the Month
When your time is split between two different types of 'multisport' events, managing training time can be tricky. But, Coach Leigh and our Athlete of the Month, Chris Berg, have found a good balance to utilizing his training time to prepare Chris for both triathlon and biathlon. And because of Chris's dedication to improving (and the support of his family), he has been able to stay on task to achieve his goals. He recently competed in the US Biathlon Nationals (XC ski, shooting) and earned third places in the sprint and pursuit races, and a fourth in the mass start race for Senior Master Men (40-49), and looks ahead to the 2017 summer tri season.
CONGRATULATIONS to Chris Berg. He is a super multisporter!
1. Which did you start competing in first, biathlon or triathlon? How did you arrive at the 2nd sport/what got you interested in it?
I started competing in biathlon when I was in high school. My mother had a high school classmate, Lyle Nelson, who represented the US at four Winter Olympics in biathlon so meeting him and other members of the US National Team was a real inspiration to start in the sport. After my freshman year at college, I stopped competing in biathlon and skiing to focus on college and rugby. When my children were born, my wife and I entered a relatively chaotic stage of kids, grad schooI, and career focus to which many age groupers can relate when I did very little exercise. But a few years ago, I started cycling and running to stay in shape and lose weight. I entered a local sprint triathlon to keep motivated and during that race (despite the absolute agony) remembered how much I loved competing. For me, the challenge of balancing 3 sports has many similarities to biathlon and keeps me fresh and excited to train and race. If I had to focus on only one sport (cycling, running, etc.), I think that I would find the commitment to training much more challenging.
2. How do the two complement each other?
Cross country skiing is very complementary to triathlon. Skate skiing (biathlon only has skate skiing) has some very strong crossover benefits for cycling, and the double poling is not so different from swimming either. In addition, it is an excellent way to stay motivated in the challenging winter months in the Northern Hemisphere, while meeting lots of interesting people. If you think triathletes are a little off, just wait until you meet some biathletes! Nothing like skiing around with a rifle on your back to warp your sense or reality. Also, the mental element of trying to shoot a 4.5 cm target at 50 meters with an elevated heart rate does wonders for one's focus, which is helpful for any endurance race situation. In return, triathlon maintains and enhances aerobic fitness and mental skills. At biathlon races, I'm substantially fitter and stronger because of the good work I do with Leigh during the year.
3. How does your coach (Leigh Dodd) adjust your training for the different race seasons?
Basically, we focus on triathlon for most of the year and then add some ski-specific work during the fall and winter months once the triathlon season is complete. Since I don't have enough time in the winter to get out on snow enough during the week, I keep a pretty decent swim-bike-run balance during the weekdays which helps my aerobic fitness and then get on snow or on roller skis on the weekend. Since triathlon is my focus, the break between biathlon season ending and ramp up for triathlon is relatively shorter than the break in between the end of triathlon season and the start of training for biathlon.
4. Favorite piece of equipment for biathlon and triathlon.
Like a true triathlete, I love all equipment. For biathlon, the rifle is an obvious choice as it is beautiful, precise machine that you use a lot but I would be remiss if I didn't say my skis as well. Other than the motor that pushes them, the rights skis, picked from the factory for you make a world of difference. For triathlon, I love the bike. You get to go fast and see the world.
5. Describe a favorite race memory/moment (either sport).
The great thing about both sports is that I really enjoy them, so choosing a favorite is hard. Pretty much every race is enjoyable in some way -- except when I crashed out on the bike at Timberman last year. That was definitely not fun. But if I had to pick, I would say the first draft legal duathlon I did last November in New Orleans at the World Qualifier for draft legal worlds. I love biking on my TT bike but there is nothing more fun than the pure race of a draft legal race. The conflicting dynamic of working with your competition to go faster on the bike while trying to maximize your total effort for the day is very exciting.
6. Outside of these two sports, what catches your interest or keeps you busy? Essentially, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Outside of my sporting endeavors, I enjoy spending time with friends and try to spend as much time as I can with my family particularly my beautiful wife and two daughters, who indulge their husband/father in his crazy athletic pursuits. We enjoy the wonderful things that Western Vermont has to offer -- great alpine skiing, outdoor activities, excellent food, and craft brews. Oh. And I probably spend too much time working.