Ironman World Championship Special Interview
Salt Lake City based triathlete Nate Zarlengo has been racing triathlons for 11 years and has experienced incredible success by qualifying for the Ironman World Championships twice.
During the 2021 Ironman Coeur D’Alene, Nate experienced a significant personal record by improving his swim time by 7 minutes. He went on to take 2nd in his age group and qualify for the Ironman World Championship.
He credits training on the Vasa SwimErg for better swim training consistency, flexibility in his routine, and improvements made in swim-specific strength and stamina.
Nate graciously agreed to be interviewed so the Vasa community could learn more about his training leading up to the Ironman World Championship. We asked how he balances racing at a high level while juggling a full-time job, family time and being a part of the elite sponsored triathlon Team On Pace.
Vasa Athlete Interview
Vasa: Thank you for your time Nate. Congratulations on qualifying for the Ironman World Championships, again. That is incredible! Tell us more about your race at Ironman Coeur D’Alene!
Nate: Swim was fantastic with over a 7 minute personal best time. I had plenty of energy to spare and now feel like I can get closer to a 61–63-minute Ironman swim.
Bike is my best. I planned on a sub-5-hour bike and came in at 4:59. I was in 1st place coming off the bike but was dealing with an Achilles strain in my left leg that I was nervous about. My first steps out of transition, my Achilles immediately started flaring up and I knew I was in for a terrible run. I just did the best I could, but every single step hurt. I was pretty happy to end up with a 3:34 marathon and a 2nd place age group placing.
Total time was 9:48. Overall, dealing with the heat and the injury that day, I am very happy with my performance, and most notably on the swim!
Stronger, Better, Faster Ironman Racing
Vasa: What do you attribute to your success in Ironman racing?
- Discipline to be consistent when you don’t feel like it.
- TrainerRoad (been using this program since 2012) and now the Vasa SwimErg is right up there helping me stay consistent and structured.
Vasa: How did you learn to train on the SwimErg and what were some of your key workouts leading up to Ironman Coeur D’Alene?
As far as workouts, long uninterrupted sets like 2-3 x 15 minutes at race pace with 1 minute rest have been key. After I warm up, I’ll throw in 3 really hard 20 second efforts then settle in to simulate a race start.
Vasa: How do you know training with the Vasa SwimErg is helping you swim stronger, better, faster?
Nate: My pool swim times are faster, more consistent and I’m having less fatigue. All my previous Ironman swim times have been between 1:13-1:15 which is a hard place to fight back from if you’re trying to be in the top of your age group. My most recent Ironman Coeur D’ Alene swim was 1:06 with a lot of energy left. Every other IM swim I came out with fatigued shoulders and neck. This time I felt great coming out and had more energy for the bike and run!
Vasa: You mentioned training with the TrainerRoad software program. Do you use the SwimErg’s ANT+ wireless power meter to connect TrainerRoad for your workouts?
Nate: I could talk for hours about my love for TrainerRoad and how it is the hands down best money I have spent in this sport to improve from an average cyclist to coming in with the fastest bike splits consistently. Although I’ve not yet connected the SwimErg to TrainerRoad, I fully intend to implement their awesomeness soon!
A Day in the Life
Vasa: What is a typical Ironman training week for you?
Nate: I’ll maintain about 14-16 hours a week of swim, bike, run. I’ll peak for 6 weeks above 18 hours and top out around 24 hours. My goals per week are about 200+ miles biking, 35-50 miles running and 10K swimming. I use the Vasa SwimErg typically 3 times a week for 30–45-minute sessions.
Vasa: Can you share what your daily Ironman training schedule looks like with a full time job?
8-9am Kids to school and breakfast
12-1:30pm Workout and lunch
5-7:30pm Dinner, clean house, wrestle kids, kid activities, kid taxi, kid homework
7:30-8pm Kid Bedtime routine
8pm Workout if needed
10pm AirRelax Recovery Boots and Bedtime
Elite Ironman Team
Vasa: We see that you are an athlete on the inaugural elite triathlon Team On Pace (TOP). What is it like to be on the team?
Nate: I honestly feel like an imposter. The level of talent that this team has is so impressive. It’s very motivating and humbling to have such a big name believe in me. Eric Wynn and Tristen Brown have done a great job putting together some amazing sponsors and talent in a very weird time. I also need to mention The Hive Bicycle Shop who I partnered with as an Ambassador in 2019. They are a local bike shop that has been a great support still and before I was on TOP.
Editor’s Note: TOP (Team On Pace) is the continuation of a 20-year old triathlon program that started as the Timex Multisport Team. TOP is dedicated to supporting elite athletes who achieve greatness in sport while successfully balancing family, work, and community.
Ironman World Championships & Beyond
Vasa: With the Ironman World Championship postponed, how has that affected your training and mentality?
Nate: I threw myself a pity party for two days, retired from triathlon during that time and posted my stuff for sale. After coming out of retirement a few days later I got back to my regularly scheduled program as if the race was still going to happen. Coincidentally, I got a call from a friend of mine a week later asking if I’d be interested in being a guide for a visually impaired athlete named Adrian Broca for Ironman California on October 24th. Since it is only a few weeks after when Kona was supposed to be I gladly accepted. I am actually more excited about this opportunity than racing in Kona!
Vasa: What are your long-term goals in the sport of triathlon?
Nate: I ultimately do this because it drives me to be the best version of myself as a husband to my wife Autumn, father to 3 awesome boys, athlete and individual. It’s a good example to my 3 boys of how to set goals, drive to perform at a high level and do something extremely hard. I want to continue to be my best no matter what age I’m at in this sport.
Vasa: What advice can you give to someone who is just getting started Ironman racing?
Nate: Consistency trumps anything you can do or buy in this sport.
Vasa: Thank you so much for your time Nate! Best of luck at the Ironman World Championship!
Follow Nate on social media:
Facebook: Nate Zarlengo
We love hearing how Vasa Athletes are getting stronger, better, faster!