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Training basket: John Sawchuk

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Accomplishments: John Sawchuk suffered multiple injuries and was taken to hospital May 10 when he was thrown from his racing bicycle while travelling on the Centreport Canada Way highway. He hit a one-metre-wide unmarked break in the concrete near a construction zone. He was on a long training ride preparing for the ITU World Triathlon Championships set for Aug. 26-Sept. 2 at Edmonton. After weeks of tests, examinations and physiotherapy, Sawchuk is back on track and will compete in the Olympic distance of 1500-metre swim, 40-k bike and 10-k run.

Sawchuk may owe his strong recovery to the fact that he has always been an active person. Exercising has kept his weight in check, his blood pressure and resting heart rate low and he has lots of energy.

During the past 30 years, he has competed in about 40 triathlons and duathlons, 12 full marathons and several half-marathons and has finished each one. He began participating in triathlon in 2005.

"My overall goal is to be able to carry on as active a life as I can for as long as possible. For me, being active is a normal part of my life," Sawchuk said. "We were all active in some way, even just going outside and playing as kids and we all got enjoyment out of that. I believe we all have that kernel of joy inside us, maybe it gets pushed aside as we go through life. If we can all just scratch a little bit into that kernel and start to move again, you’ll feel better and life will be better."

Among his favourite moments in triathlon competitions? "When I hear someone say, ‘That old guy passed me!’"


1. Favourite workout?

I really like tempo workouts which involve a 5-10 minute warm-up, then 30-45 minutes of higher-intensity interval training with brief recovery periods in between, ending with five to 10 minutes of cool-down. In weight training, I like doing exercises in which I progress from solid to "less stable" footing such as standing on a solid floor to a foam pad or to a bosu ball soft-side down to a bosu soft side up. It can also be as simple as doing any form of resistance training standing on one foot instead of two. These kind of routines really develop core, stability and balance, which is particularly important as I age.


2. Favourite workout song?

I typically don’t listen to music as I work out. When I’m outside, I want to stay connected to my environment and that includes a safety factor. In the gym, I want to focus on my form as I go through different exercises and routines.


3. Fitness tip?

For about 30 years now, I’ve had a poster showing a runner on a long, winding road with the slogan "The race is not always to the swift but to those who keep on running." This really applies to my overall approach to exercise and fitness in that I’m in it for the long haul. I’ve also developed my own response to the "Don’t quit" or "Never give up" mantras. I’ve been in many races or tough workout sessions when I just want to pack it in. Instead I’ll slow down, or walk, or take a short break and do some self-talk that includes, "OK quitting is an option, do I want to choose it yet? Let’s just walk a bit, see how I feel and then give it another shot. I can always quit after that." I think this is a more positive approach where I recognize my fatigue and distress and give myself options and permission to stop.


4.What’s in your fridge?

We always have eggs, yogurt, and berries (particularly blueberries whenever they’re available and especially raspberries from our own bushes). We also like to make our own granola and trail mix, and always have lots of other fruit in the house.


5.What’s your guilty pleasure?

Half Moon (Drive In) hot dogs and fries, and good scotch, but never at the same time.

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