Written by Stefanie Peterson
TriSports.com had the opportunity to talk with Greg Billington, the 28-year-old Spokane, Washington native, about his preparation for the Olympics. The first-time Olympian has been training with Joe Maloy, both coached under the watchful eye of Paulo Sousa.
How are you getting prepped for Rio?
The training for Rio is no different from how we prepare for any other race. Every day Paulo Sousa expects me to bring my best to training and that’s the same if I’m training for a continental cup or the Olympic Games. The course in Rio will present unique challenges, so we’ll alter our training to prepare for the heat and the hills. I’ve been working with a sports psychologist for a few years, and I’ll continue working with her as Rio gets closer. The most important things will be to stay relaxed and focused on executing my own race.
What has been the single best piece of training advice throughout your triathlon career to help you get where you are today?
As we grow as athletes, we’ll always face new challenges and many of the practices which make us successful early on aren’t going to be the ones that makes us successful as we progress. The best advice I’ve received is to fully commit to the decisions I make each day. Fully committing leaves no room for doubt, allowing you to stay utterly in the moment during racing and training. That has allowed me to develop as an athlete and person in order to arrive in Rio as the best possible version of myself.
At Rio, what are you most looking forward to?
I’ve wanted to become an Olympian since I won the 50m fly at my under 9 county championships back in 1998, so the only thing on my mind is representing the USA at the most important sporting event in the world.
Are you going to be employing any new race tactics?
While we have our plans going into every race, it’s vital to be adaptable. There are a thousand ways the race in Rio could play out, but I know that the swim will be all out from the beginning and that there will be a lot of people who want to ride extremely hard to break up the field. I’ll be sticking to the same plan I always employ – red line from the beginning and hang on until I cross the finish or die, whichever comes first.
Do you have any favorite training gear?
We do a lot of work with floating fins in the pool as well as with a variety of paddles. Probably my least favorite tools are ankle bands and parachutes. They’re extremely effective at improving my swim, though, so I guess I like them conceptually, even if they’re absolutely miserable in practice.
What’s the hardest training session you’ve logged to date?
At the triathlon squad, it’s less that we do individually hard workouts than we consistently do very hard days. It’s all about keeping the pressure on and making sure that we stay on top of our recovery so that we can perform every day. We’ll do 10-12 x 1k repeats on the track as well as a couple k’s of threshold work in the pool, but the biggest challenge is making sure that immediately afterwards I’m always eating within 30 minutes and doing the foam rolling and strength exercises so that I don’t break down from the heavy load.