Athlete of the Month, July 2014 - Itay Melamed

Triathlete crossing the finish line of an Ironman
January 29, 2017

D3 Staff



Our July Athlete of the Month has battled through some nutritional issues related to Chron's Disease, and he's done a great job turning that around resulting in an upturn in his racing results. D3 is pleased to recognize Itay Melamed for his consistent dedication to improving in triathlon. As a Denver based physician, Itay utilizes his training and racing as a way to unwind from his busy schedule. He recognizes that as people, we are better on so many levels if we are doing something (work, play, etc.), and he hopes to develop those opportunities with some of his patients. Enjoy his Q & A below!

1. What is so compelling to you about triathlon?

Triathlon racing and training for triathlons is what I use to keep me sane. When I've had a rough week sometimes it's nice to just be able to get on the bike or run for a while and try to forget. It's a very selfish and addictive habit but there are worse addictions.

2. Do you have a favorite distance?

My favorite distance right now is probably the Olympic distance. It's just long enough.

3. Knowing that you just raced the Boulder 70.3 how do you like the half distance?

Right now for me the half distance is probably as long as I can go. When I'm done with a 70.3, I'm done.

4. What is a favorite memory from that race?

Coach Mike seeing me at the end of the first run loop asking me if that's my second loop (I wish).

5. I understand nutrition was a factor you needed to consider in your training and racing. Can you please describe how you've brought it together to help your racing?

I still don't have my nutrition dialed up as well as I would like. I have Crohn's disease and while thankfully it's a mild case, it still sometimes causes me difficulties I'd rather do without. After the last major flair up I did a lot of research about nutrition and my specific condition. I changed my nutrition significantly. I also pay a lot of attention to the labels of the things I buy, and I try to minimize the ingredients and keep things simple. Ultimately it took some patience and experimentation with different formulas.

6. Do you have any specific ideas about nutrition you can share with our readers?

I can tell you that the diet that has worked for me is what's called a semi-vegetarian diet. While that has worked for me in my specific situation, I'm sure there are lots of other diets that work for other people. The only thing I will say is that a vegetarian diet and specifically the amount of vegetables someone eats is the only dietary item that has been proven to prevent heart disease, stroke and mortality from other causes.

7. Professionally, you are a doctor, how does that influence your training (and/or racing)? You must know a whole bunch about the human body and how it performs!

I'm not sure knowing about the human body translates into training and racing. I usually try to emphasize form and understand what I'm doing in any specific workout, but I think a lot of people do that. I do have access to a lot of literature about the subject of training and racing, but if anything that sometimes confuses me more. To be honest the good thing about being a doctor is that it allows me to hire a coach like Mike Ricci to simplify and maximize my efficiency in training and racing. The bad thing about being a doctor is that it doesn't give my a lot of time to train or race.

8. From your nomination, it sounds as though fitness is a priority to you and you would like to share that with others. Can you please describe some of your thoughts and ideas for getting more people "off the couch" and into a fitness mind-set?

I've tried in the past to offer people lots of options to incorporate activity into their lives. In my mind, the human being is happiest when they are doing something. It doesn't have to be triathlons or even any specific activity. I find that when a human being is active (whether it be work, play, some kind of intellectual endeavor), they don't get depressed as often.) However, I have found that people that are aware of this are already doing something about it, and the rest of the people are not receptive to that idea for whatever reason. I'm still looking for a good way to convince people to get off the couch.

9. If you had a chance to write a work-out for Coach Mike, what would it entail?

Thankfully I don't write Coach Mike any workouts. However, if I did write him a workout it wound entail lots of swimming, running and biking.

10. If you could race in any destination, any distance and have someone keep you company during that race  describe it!

I guess the location would be either Chile or New Zealand. I heard that at some of their beaches whales sometimes come to say hey when you are swimming! As long as they don't come too close I think that would be great. I don't care who races with me. Obviously it would be nice to watch someone like Crowley, Miranda Cafrae or one of the Brownlee brothers, but I obviously won't be able to keep up with them. Usually when I race I'm not in a chatty mood, so I don't much care who is there. Afterwards though it would be nice to have my family there with me.

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