Improving My Inner Athlete

Geoff Steffens chronicles his successes, failures and experiences in his quest for an improved athletic mindset.
Gsteffens (2)

Geoff Steffens

Happy New Year!  Some of you may know me and others may not so I thought I would first start this new series with a bit of an introduction.  My name is Geoffrey Steffens and I primarily compete as an age group triathlete.  In the past, you might have met me out on the group rides or even during one of the past Tuesday Night Criteriums.   To go back even further, like say 1988, I raced as a competitive triathlete within the Southwest.  I never reached professional status but, in my mind (and only in my mind), I was kind of a big deal.  As I grew older, I started a family and pretty much left competitive triathlon.

I decided to return to racing when my kids had gone off to college and, ironically, I had undergone shoulder surgery in 2012 and was forced to swim again as part of physical therapy.  So, in 2014, with a 20-year break from triathlon racing, I signed up and raced my first 70.3 Ironman event in Boulder, Colorado.  I really had no idea what to expect, nor did I fully understand all the changes that had happened in the sport. I was hoping to just finish.  I bought a wetsuit on eBay (one size too small) as well as a triathlon bike and it was race time.

After surviving a mediocre 1.2-mile swim with exceptional arm cramps from very tight sleeves, grinding through the 56 miles on the bike and shuffling the run, I finished with a respectable time of 4:54.  I was hooked! With the support of my wife and High Desert Bicycles, I then started a journey to compete as an age group triathlete setting a goal to qualify to compete in all three World Championship Races….in a 3-year period.

I have been fortunate to have achieved 2 of the 3 World Championships and am hoping to qualify for the 2018 Ironman World Championship in Kona this year.  For those of you who race triathlon, you understand how hard that process can be.  While the odds may be against me, I believe I thrive in the challenge. Okay, everyone, this is me and where I’m coming from!

I will write articles over the coming months to you all, the HDB community:  writing from my experiences, successes and (many) mistakes.  Hopefully, the information provided will be informational and relevant. I will not limit information to just triathlon and cycling but involve and discuss topics relevant to the “athlete” we all identify with.  Athlete defined not by how fast you are, or fit, or how expensive your toys are, but instead by your mindset to improve.

This month’s topic applies to the recreational/weekend athlete as well as to the serious competitor.

Functional Training

Why is this important?  A successful mindset of overall functional strength is implemented into your overall program allows a platform for the development of technical skill. Technical skills of strength and mobility ultimately maximizing your potential.  One of the biggest benefits of a successful strength building program is the reduction of injury. Also, it develops a resilient base to build your sport.

Functional training or “Strength Training” was something new to me! When I first started racing a triathlete or cyclist would not be caught dead doing a push up.  This mentality has changed and the results are striking!  The goal of functional training is not to have the athlete get “huge” but instead be “strong”.  Incorporating this type of training plan into your daily workout routine improves overall health and well-being.

First, commit to a schedule.  My biggest challenge, as a multi-sport athlete, is finding the time!  For many of us, jobs and family already monopolize our attention affecting our ability to train.

For me, a scheduled set of core exercises is doable with some sporadic add-ins during the week as time allow.  Below is an example of a basic Functional Strength program that primarily uses body weight for the resistance.  These exercises can be performed at home and are courtesy of Purple Patch Fitness.  Additional exercises with free weights, kettle bells and TRX suspension systems are also great ways to increase your functional fitness.

  1. The Single-Leg Hip Bridge: 10 reps each side with 3-second hold per rep

  1. The Plank:1 minute max hold, 30 second rest, repeat x 2

  1. The Push up: 12 reps x 3 sets

  1. Body Weight Split Squat (pulse lunges): 8 reps each side

  1. Push-Up Position Slider Hip Flexion: 12 reps each side x 3 sets

  1. Bear Crawl: 10 steps forward, then 10 steps back, 2 rounds

  1. Kettlebell Deadlift: 12 reps x 3 sets

If you have questions, feel free to email me at

Until next time, “Train like you have never won.  Compete like you have never lost.”

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