For this ESPN college basketball reporter, the tri lifestyle is a slam-dunk.
“I wear many hats,” says Andy Katz, a 13-year ESPN veteran reporter who is also a husband, father of two and now a triathlete. However, you might better know him as “that guy who fills out a bracket with Obama.”
As March Madness approaches, you’ll witness President Barack Obama filling out his NCAA basketball bracket with Katz at his side—a tradition every year he’s been in office. (In 2009, the president even correctly picked North Carolina to win.)
As intimidating as it sounds to interview the president, Katz says it no longer makes him nervous. A bigger challenge for the 44-year-old Connecticut resident has been triathlon. In 2012, he completed two Olympic-distance triathlons in an effort to get healthier. “When you’re in your 40s, you’re looking for new challenges, and that’s what I love about triathlon,” he says.
However, one of the biggest perks has been the bragging rights: “I love the fact that in my world, where I’m dealing with elite athletes who are in college or in the NBA, I have multiple coaches and players going, ‘What? You did what?! I can’t do that.’”
You could say that his job keeps him on his toes. Any given day could include traveling to games, reporting from the sidelines, shooting a halftime or late show in studio, or writing a story for Espn.com. During the basketball season, October to April, he averages at least one out-of-town trip per week. Then the NBA draft keeps him busy into early summer.
His hectic, unpredictable schedule led to an unhealthy lifestyle and eventually a medical wake-up call when his weight and cholesterol reached their highest in late 2010. He resolved to change his habits, starting with his diet.
Rather than rely on nachos and hot dogs when stuck in an arena for 10 hours, he’d buy food ahead of time and started using Weight Watchers. Then, with the help of a trainer, he learned to be more efficient in the gym by incorporating strength training and speed work. He would also swim during his kids’ swim practice and take spin classes, which led to his first multisport event: an aquabike race, in 2011. In 2012 he raced two Olympic-distance triathlons, including the Nation’s Triathlon in Washington, D.C.
Fortunately, the triathlon season is pretty much opposite of the basketball season, but training for a June race was still tricky. “Being soon after the [basketball] season, getting in some bricks around that was hard. And it was almost impossible to get open-water swims in,” he says.
Over the course of his triathlon journey, he’s lost 30 pounds and plans to race two more Olympics this summer. “I’ve pushed myself more than I thought I could, I’m in the best cardiovascular shape since high school, if not ever, and I love the challenge,” Katz says.
Katz’s biggest lesson learned has been eating nutritiously even when he’s on the road or too busy to train. “When I travel, I always have stuff that I know I’m going to want to eat,” he says. His favorite snacks: cranberries, nuts, PowerBars, Fiber One bars and Clif bars.