Adam Ciperski - 4x Ironman, Husband, Father and Kidney Donor
Every story has a beginning. Why and how did you get into triathlon?
"My wife and I moved to Miami in 2002, I made a focus of getting back into shape after we spent a year moving cross country twice and I was a year plus removed from my surgery. I put on some weight getting up to 240. My doctor recommended I get down to 180, which I thought was impossible at the time. I started running a bit and rode occasionally. I ran a local 10K as a goal and loved the feeling of competing which was something I missed since my football days. Later that month, we saw the Ironman Miami 70.3 cyclists ride by our neighborhood and I knew that's what I wanted to do; I can't compete with 10K runners, however, throw in a bike and a swim, I can live out the playing field."
What distance and where was your first triathlon race?
"My first triathlon race was the Tri Key Biscayne in 2011 at Crandon Park in Miami, Florida where I raced the sprint distance. During the swim, I questioned if it was a good idea to race. I stayed with it and was in a foot race to the end ultimately finishing in 2nd place. After that, I was hooked."
Do you consider yourself to be physically predisposed to be an endurance athlete? What were your athletic capabilities before competing in triathlons?
"I played football through college and then coached for a couple of years. Football is similar to triathlon in that you spend more time preparing and training than competing. For football, we would train all year for 11 games. Triathlon is similar, you need to love the process of training. I'll race at most 5 times a year. Ever since I was little, I enjoyed competing and putting my body to the test."
You are a 4x Ironman finisher. What was your all time favorite Ironman race so far and why?
"Each race is special. For each one, it was a race-cation. We rented a house and had family friends join for the event. It made it fun for my spectators and fun for me to celebrate afterwards. The last Ironman I raced was at Lake Placid, New York which was special as my brothers played hockey there in tournaments and my sister figure skated there for competitions. It was fun to go compete where they had competed before. My sister and her family made the trip to join in the fun."
What is the hardest part for you in an Ironman race?
"The hardest part of an Ironman are the long training days on the weekend. I make a deal with my family that before I take on any race, I have their complete support. There are some things I miss like practice pickups or rehearsal drop-offs during the last weeks of a big training block. Missing out on family time is difficult which is why I am selective on which Ironmans I do."
What is your strongest discipline? What is your favorite discipline and why?
"My strongest discipline is the bike. Primarily because the bike is about the grind, you put your head down and go. The more you can suffer and push the limit the better."
Give us a bit of insight as to what goes on inside your head during the competitions and how you keep yourself going.
"When racing, I try to keep pushing through the discomfort. I try to focus in on my effort. I make a point in each leg of the race to take a moment to reflect on how cool it is I get to do this."
What do you enjoy the most leading up to the race weekend?
"Taper week reminds me of the week leading up to a football game. I enjoy having some time back in my schedule with the training volume reduced. During this time, I'll work my way through the race checklist which takes the guesswork and overthinking out of the preparation process."
Tell us a bit about what your training involves. What is a typical schedule of a week's training for you?
"A typical week consists of swims on Monday and Friday, Tuesday bike intervals, Wednesday bike and run,Thursday run intervals, Saturday long ride followed by a run and Sunday bike intervals. My training schedule has evolved over the years due to work or family demands. In the end, this schedule helps me get the most out of my training."
What was the one constant motivation that kept you on track for your training programs?
"I enjoy training. I like the sense of accomplishment from a hard workout. Training helps clear my mind which leads to starting the work day with a fresh perspective. Many times, I work through situations or presentations while training. I keep a notepad in the garage and in my swim bag to capture these thoughts."
Some consider training to be another full-time job. How do you balance training, your career, social life and being a father and husband?
"I try to be in the moment and focus on what's in front of me. If I go out to train that means I am saying no to something else, so I need to make that session count. If I am with my family, I focus on being in the moment with them. I call it "What's Important Now" a.k.a. WIN. Focus on the moment, limit the multitasking and be where you physically are.
As for balancing career and travel, that is where having a coach pays dividends. I've been working with Kevin Todd from Carmichael Training Systems for 10 years. He's pushed me to new levels from an athletic perspective and has been my therapist. From a scheduling perspective, he takes the guess work out. I'll add my upcoming business travel to TrainingPeaks and what options I have available. You'd be surprised how many community pools or masters swim teams you can drop in on. So far this year, I have swum in San Francisco, Park City, Chicago, Las Vegas, New York and India."
Your daughter has followed in your footsteps in triathlon. What does this mean to you and how have you helped her get into the sport?
"She has been more of a peer to me. She has been swimming competitively for nearly as long as I have been doing triathlon. I am always asking her about swim strokes. We compare and share feedback during practices. When I capture swim video of my strokes, she'll provide analysis on how to improve. I learn a great deal from her. It's such a treat when we can swim together. Very humbling too."
Throughout the years, you've learned so much from your triathlon training. Lots of trial and error to get you to where you are now. What advice would you give to younger Adam, knowing what you know now?
"The first thing is I would have asked my parents to put me in a swim program when I was young. Learning to swim competitively in your 40s is a ton of work.
I would have started racing earlier as well. I found my way into triathlon in my 40s. Now, I can't imagine not doing it. The benefit of swimming is that it improves your fitness and has a low impact on your body, I wish I had started earlier. It's such a great workout.
The other advice I'd give myself is the value of rest and recovery. I kept pushing and never relented in my football training; I didn't see the value in a recovery week. I now see how it's helps me get stronger and keeps me mentally sharp."
What did your Ironman experiences teach you? How does it apply to your day to day life?
"The most important lesson is Whats Important Now (WIN). Be in the moment. When you are in the swim, you can't be thinking about the bike. Focus on the swim and your stroke. The same goes for life: if you are in a meeting at work, focus on that meeting, don't focus on Slack messages or emails. This is how you can be your best in each situation. The other key lesson is the value of rest; sleep, sleep, and sleep. It makes a big difference."
When's your next race?
"September 25th Tri Key Biscayne and then November 13th Miami Man in Miami, Florida — my favorite race."
What would you say to someone who is interested in triathlon but hasn't jumped in yet?
"To do triathlon well, it's a lifestyle. It's vital you have the buy-in and support of your loved ones. The secret to my success is the support of my wife and kids. If I didn't have that, I wouldn't be doing this. It's become a family affair, they are understanding of the times I go train, and at times my odd dietary choices. There's nothing better than seeing them cheer as I grind my way to a race finish. It's my fuel."
Thank you Adam for repping Mack Cycle at your racing events and being a part of our HOME TEAM! 💛🖤
On October 5, 2000, Adam unselfishly donated his kidney to his younger brother, Zach. By doing so, Zach's life was extended by an additional 13 years, where he was able to live an incredible life.
Follow Adam on Instagram here - https://www.instagram.com/aciperski/