Few names are as synonymous with Ironman victories as Frederik Van Lierde. The champion athlete from Belgium claimed the title of World Champion in 2013 at Kona after having finished 3rd the year before. With over a dozen big-name triathlon wins to his name, Frederik is truly a legend of the sport.
How did you start running? Thanks to my Dad. He was in to marathons and other road races as well as cross country running. As a little kid I joined him (of course) and ran the kids races.
Why do you run now? Because I love it. Of course, it’s also part of my job and triathlon but the priority for me is the freedom of it all and the incredible feeling you get by running.
What has been the most important race you’ve run to date?
The 2013 Ironman World Championship in Hawaii. I won and it has changed a lot in my life. I’m so thankful this happened and my biggest motivation now is to win it again!
What is your pre-race ritual? Doing some breathing exercises but nothing more than that. In my opinion, it’s better not to stick to rituals because every race (the set-up) is different. Then what will you do if you can’t do your “ritual” as planned?!
What do you think about while running? Plenty of things: from family to business to races and strategies - whatever. Most of the time I get back from training with solutions for issues or with new ideas. That shows running truly frees your mind.
What is your go to training meal? A good coffee !
What song is your go to for the run? Everything that has a great beat: dj sets and popular songs especially. I don’t really have “favorites” but rather music that makes me happy and makes me feel like running.
Who is your “team”? I’m thankful to work with a great team of people. The most important are my wife and two boys together with my family. Next to them I work with: Luc Van Lierde (coach), Vincent Van Lierde (agent), Els Snauwaert (mental coach), David Pintens (photographer), Marina Velle (food consultant), Marc Verkindere (massage therapist) and Michiel Delva (osteopath).
Who would you be if you weren’t a professional athlete? A sports teacher. Before I turned pro I was teaching sports at a school, so probably I would have continued as it was something I liked and truly enjoyed.
What does no one tell you about being a professional athlete? I think about the amount of time you spend as a professional athlete next to the training. Sponsors, travel, business, projects, interviews, social media… it’s all part of the “job” I love doing, but an aspect you don’t often hear about.
What was the best piece of running advice you ever received?
‘Cruise’ said to me by Olivier Bernhard last year in Hawaii. The first half of the marathon is all about feeling comfortable at a good pace. The word ‘cruise’ is a very good summary of that feeling and I’ll remember that one forever.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to follow in your footsteps? Be patient, work hard and never give up! Look at me: doing triathlon since I was 17 years old and I had to wait until I was 34 before I became World Champion.
Why On? Simply because they are really great. I started to run in them in 2013 and that was a big step forward for me! Coincidence that 2013 was my best year ever? No no ;-)