So what exactly is Tollakson gaining from his extreme recovery program? It’s too early to make a final judgment. Tollakson has only recently returned to serious training after having surgery on his left hip to correct a condition called femoral acetabular impingement, a condition that he was born with but which his triathlon training aggravated. The condition was also part of the reason for his poor performance at Kona in 2010, when he placed 38th. (Editor’s note: after this article was published in the July/August, 2011 edition of Inside Triathlon magazine, Tollakson went on to enjoy arguably the best season of his career, where he won Ironman Lake Placid and Eagleman 70.3 and got on the podium at Ironman St. George. Unfortunately, he DNFed in Kona in 2011, likely due to swallowing too much salt water in the choppy Pacific ocean, according to an article on Triathlete.com.)
But he responded well to his first heavy training block post-surgery at a camp with coach Cliff English and English’s other elite triathletes in Tucson, Ariz.
“The biggest thing I’ve noticed is my ability to do back-to-back hard weeks,” he said. “This whole process allows me to train longer and more intensely week in and week out. It’s obvious to me when I’m training with the group; I can compare myself to the other athletes who are training with Cliff. I feel more recovered and ready to train day in and day out.”
Beyond feeling better and training better, Tollakson has also learned an important lesson from the experience.
“Being a truly professional triathlete is a 24/7 job,” he said. “It’s not 30 hours a week of training. It’s everything you do. It’s how you eat, how you sleep and how you take care of your body between workouts that makes you the best you can be.”