He hails from Texas and works 1-to-1 with Coach Jim Hallberg, it's a pleasure to introduce you to Team D3 Athlete Keith Graham.
Keith was nominated because he and his coach have a strong athlete-coach partnership that began over 3 years ago. Keith has shown steady improvement and has been very good about following his training plan!
That consistency is so important and as such helped him achieve a 10K PB at USAT Age Group Nationals (a course that wasn't necessarily designed to be fast, but he made it happen!). And, he backed up his performance with another sprint shortly thereafter. Those are traits that are clearly a good blend of our 3 Ds (Desire, Determination and Discipline)!
Want to know his secrets? Enjoy his Q&A below.
1. You achieved a 10K PB at this year's AG Nationals. What steps did you take in your training to have a breakthrough?
Breakthrough is probably an understatement. I have never been good at running. I run like Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark when he is being chased out of the rain forest at the beginning of the movie while yelling at Jock to “start the engine”….
Leading up to the PB 10K at Nationals, my running had been littered with some success but more disappointment. I finally hit rock bottom and completely unraveled (ironically enough) right in front of Jim in 2018 at IM Boulder 70.3. I came off the bike in the top 20 of my age group and started the run. At mile 7 the epic meltdown was in progress; that course crushed me and my spirits. Literally, I didn’t run for a month after that and contemplated leaving triathlon all together. It was very frustrating.
To his credit, Jim circled the wagons and we agreed to leaving my Garmin at home, ignoring pace & HR and even forgetting about form….just go run with no expectations and that was the real breakthrough. Jim was very patient with me during the process as I clicked off a late 2018 PB 13.1 off-the-bike at Nationals Long Course to qualify for Worlds. Entering 2019 I had early PB’s at the 13.1, 10K, and 5K distances and then ran the 30K at Worlds at a faster pace than at Nationals Long only 5 months prior. With a great endurance base already in place we put in some speed work over the summer and here we are: a PB 10K off the bike.
Bad News: I still run like Indiana Jones….LOL!
2. Do you have a secret (or advice) to your training consistency?
Time management and planning ahead is critical for me. Balancing family, work (which is global and includes travel), training, and other obligations is sometimes challenging. I review my training schedule with Jim in detail on a weekly basis, understand the key hard workouts and goals, the recovery workouts, and how it fits into everything else. Then not only follow, but execute the plan! If something comes up, Jim is a text or phone call away to discuss alternative options.
3. What are you looking forward to working on during the winter months that'll set you up for 2020?
There is another evolution of my “swim training” I want to accomplish with my Swim Coach Tom Radam at TRI-STAR Masters Swimming. I am excited to return to the pool during the winter months and put in the hard work which will get me “further down the road”. Since ending my season at Nationals in Cleveland, I have been physically and mentally recovering spending time with my family, riding/running the trails, and decompressing until Jim says, “hey man, time to get back to work”.
4. What races are you planning/training for in 2020?
My first race of the season is IMTX 70.3 in April. High probability a second 70.3 will be in the plan along with a return trip to Milwaukee in August for Nationals. I will also figure out how to squeeze in a couple of Xterra and/or Swim/Run events to mix things up.
5. Tell us a little more about you ... what keeps you busy outside of triathlon?
With our kids Taylor (12) and Kipton (10) constantly on the go, life is always interesting and busy between school and athletic events. Year-round I coach my son’s Select soccer team as well, but work definitely occupies a large amount of my time where I am in my 3rd year growing a start-up company developing products, technology, and processes to recycle carbon fiber. I also enjoy a great read while traveling for work which is currently Legacy by James Kerr.
Quick Bits about Keith
a) What is one thing you always make sure you do before a workout (any of swim, bike, run, strength)? Let my lovely wife Jeanie know where I will be; SAFETY FIRST!
b) Favorite long workout recovery food? Chocolate Milk
c) Favorite piece of tri equipment? My RocketScience triathlon bag. Everything has a place and a purpose; keeps me organized on race day!