You May Be Surprised by This Record-Holder's Training Philosophy

By Scott Richardson | April 04, 2018, 8:31 p.m. (ET)

susan haag

Questions come rapidly when you hear Susan Haag, 52, of Jacksonville, Florida, has more than 400 triathlons, including more than 100 iron-distance events, to her credit.

How does she train?

Haag races so often throughout the year that one race becomes training for the next. She doesn’t have a coach or a training plan though she sees their value. Neither one fit her active professional and athletic life. For one thing, she is too busy to follow a plan very closely. For another, she admits she doesn’t follow directions very well.

“But folks have stepped up to help me out,” she said.

What does she do to avoid injury?

“Nothing,” Haag said. “I go slow. I’m not fast, but I don’t mind suffering.”

She keeps a steady pace throughout the day. She uses the Galloway Method to run/walk the third leg.

If she slows down too much, she has an idea what she might do.

“I may have to start training,” she said.

Surely, she believes in clean eating.

“If you mention my name and nutrition in the same sentence, anyone who knows me would guffaw. I like cheese fries and steak for dinner,” she said. “I rely on myself for meals. I don’t always make the best decisions.”

What does she use for fuel on race day?

Her nutrition on a run course once included barbecued ribs someone was grilling as she passed by. She said she will take pizza if offered.

“If they have a deviled egg, I’ll eat that, too. I like the party atmosphere.”

But her more-normal nutrition plan is to start with Ensure for breakfast. She drinks more Ensure and flavored gels on the bike. She eats more gels and forages for salty snacks on the run.

How does Haag afford the expense of so many races?

To keep costs down, she stays close to home when she can. That works for her because she doesn’t like to travel alone. When she does travel, friends at the destination often offer her a place to stay. She likes independent races because entry fees tend to be less than branded races. She borrows a bike rather than paying to transport her own.

Does she have favorite races?

The list is a long one. Among them is the Great Floridian because it’s in her backyard. She likes IRONMAN Florida because, “It’s like old home week.” She likes IRONMAN Louisville because she grew up there until her senior year in high school when her family moved to Florida. She loved IRONMAN visits to British Columbia. She loved the swim there because the buoys were numbered and she could keep track of where she was on the swim course. The bike course featured tough climbs but she loved the descents, the scenery and the safe roads and the run course went through a lovely town with great spectators. She has also raced in Brazil, Austria, Challenge Roth in Germany and several times in Cozumel, Mexico.

Learn more about Susan Haag's recent accomplishment of competing in over 400 races and why she invites you join her for a “party at the back" here.

Scott Richardson is a USA Triathlon Level I and U.S. Masters Swimming Level 2 Certified Coach and founder of Beyond Normal Fitness, Normal, Illinois.