Canadian Angela Naeth has been on the podium 36 times and has completed three full Ironmans in under 9 hours, including while battling Lyme disease.
She has championed women in the sport with her endurance community called I Race Like a Girl.
IronmanHacks caught up with Angela to find out what drives her and of course what her tips and hacks are for a faster race.
Angela ran track in college on a scholarship and got into cycling as a cross-training tool. And after graduating with a master’s degree in physical therapy and health sciences she still had the athletic bug in her and that’s when she found triathlon.
Her first tri was an Olympic distance race with a small pool. Angela says she didn’t really know what she was doing then, but she won it.
And although she wasn’t the fastest swimmer then, her experience as a lifeguard made it easier to get through it. She says her bike was definitely her strongest discipline then, and it still is today.
Many beginners see swimming as a barrier to the sport. How did Angela get her swimming to a pro level?
It took lots and lots of work for Angela to reach a pro level of swimming. She worked on her swim stroke a lot, had plenty of lessons, and a coach.
Angela’s Team: I Race Like a Girl
I Race Like a Girl is an all-inclusive group Angela started that supports women of all ages and abilities to in the sport of triathlon, and all endurance sports. They range from ages 6-72 and there are 350 of them.
What’s Angela’s advice for girls and women that are just getting into the sport?
Angela believes that girls and kids in general just need to have fun and enjoy other sports, too. They have many years ahead of them and should get that base of being an all-around athlete.
They can join a club or group, watch a few triathlons, and eventually consider getting a coach.
Also, she says having a female mentor to guide you is always nice.
Are women are fairly represented in triathlon?
Angela explains that at Kona there are 50 spots for men but only 35 for women. How can the sport grow for women if we don’t offer the same opportunities to women?
She says that women do get the same prize money, though. However, Angela presumes that sponsorship deals for men may be better than for women.
Overcoming Lyme disease
Angela was diagnosed with Lyme disease a few years ago, leading to unexplained muscle pain and fatigue. She had many x-rays, MRIs and blood tests and the standard Lyme tests came back negative. Doctors told her that she just needed to take some time off.
But she found a Lyme specialist who ran some deeper testing, and found the infections.
Since then, Angela has been working to raise awareness about Lyme disease. It can affect different people in very different ways and it can go undiagnosed for years, she explains.
Her hopes are that, if someone has any of these mystery symptoms, that often elude doctors, that they can consider the possibility of Lyme and/or other tick-borne illnesses, and can get the proper testing to find out.
Angela explains how it’s such a hard thing to treat and you can relapse if you don’t get all the bacteria out of you.
And when you have it, the disease can be pretty debilitating. It takes away your muscle power and strength, causes depression, anxiety, pain and can hit you in a variety of ways.
It’s something that needs more awareness and you need a good doctor to understand the process; it’s not a quick fix, she explains.
Angela uses the Atalanta
Atalanta is a biometric device that Angela says she fell in love with when she first used the prototype a few years ago.
It’s a high performance tool that shows real-time feedback. By monitoring things beyond just heart rate – like breathing depth – athletes can be more mindful of their states and be more calm.
What does Angela use for nutrition?
Angela races with PowerBar bars, gels, and their Hydromax product in her bottles.
“It tastes great and has the right ratios of carbs and sodium. I don’t drink pure water – I put this in all my drinks to get my nutrition most effectively. I preload sodium too. I also take MOXiLIFE,” she says.
Will we see Angela at Kona?
Yes, Angela qualified, but as we now know that will be in 2021.
Angela tells us she loves the heat, and will go there a few weeks early to get acclimated.
What is Angela’s daily nutritional approach?
Angela believes in eating everything in moderation. She’ll eat veggies and meat for dinner and lots of carbs, with red meat for dinner twice a week. For desert she’ll have yogurt with nut butter. She’ll have 2-3 servings of dairy, she loves her cereal, and eats lots of snacks.
“I’m not afraid of fat,” she explains.
“We need to get enough calories. It’s a constant build to maintain the right intake with all the training and a high metabolism.”
Which athletes, triathlete or other, do you admire the most?
Angela says she admires Heather Fuhr, past Ironman champ Paula Newby-Fraser, and Lisa Bentley. She explains how they’ve always been top class and so supportive.
She also has high regard for Mark Allen who used to coach her.
What are some products Angela says she can’t live without?
Another is Topo Athletic Shoes. They were introduced to Angela four years ago by her podiatrist. They have a roomy toe box and are are made to contour to a foot. The name Topo comes from the owner, Tony Post.
Angela has been a Shimano athlete almost her entire pro career. She has used Di2 electric since she began and says she would never go back.
Another brand Angela uses is Pearl Izumi. She loves it because she says she can go out in very cold weather and still be super conformable.
Her bike is a Quintana Roo, and says she loves the bike and the disc breaks. Angela wears a Lazer helmet.
She’s also a big fan of Zwift, especially for indoor training during the long winter months.
Angela is a big believer in VID-CBD and says it is amazing for sleep and recovery.
Finally, she’s a big Normantec fan.
What are Angela’s tips, tricks, or hacks to a faster race?
Try to keep things simple, especially in transition. Be a minimalist. For example, if you know they’ll have sunscreen on the course, don’t bring any.
Also, manage your circumstances. If you have a calm mind you can conquer anything.
Have a saying or a mantra. Angela says she repeated hers, “Be strong,” at Kona for nine hours.