15 Sep Close up with Brian Norling- Jersey Shore’s Elite Triathlete/ Cyclist


Photo credit: Jan Curran

We caught up with top athlete, Brian Norling, to get his thoughts about racing, nutrition, family/work balance, and his future plans. Those who know Brian know he is one of the most hard-working, humble, and family guy you’ll ever meet…and a rock star on the race course!

XRCEL: Tell us a little about yourself, where do you live and train?

BN: I live in Point Pleasant NJ.  I basically train right in my home area. We have a great area for training. There are tons of triathletes and cyclists in the area. Makes it easy to get a top notch group training session together.

XRCEL: What do you do for a living?

BN I’m a mason. I have my own business. I work mostly right in the area around where I live. I’ve been in the masonry trade since high school.

XRCEL: How did you get involved with cycling /triathlon?

BN I have always been in to cycling. As a kid I raced BMX. In High School, I got in to XC mountain biking in NJ. After that I just stayed involved in cycling some way. Did some downhill racing. I was told about a local sprint race by some friends who had done the race. So I signed up and was hooked. I finished the race.  It wasn’t pretty, but it was fun!

XRCEL: You’ve had incredible wins & podium finishes in all your races.  What was your all-time best race performance/highlight?

BN: It’s hard to pick one race. Each race has its own set of hurdles and getting over them is always a great feeling.img_0005

If I had to choose one race, I’d have to say IM Syracuse 70.3. in 2011. I had just come back from breaking my leg and it was my first big race since that accident. I had broken my leg in Dec of 2009 and was out of commission for 10 months. Got back to training and this was a goal race. Went to the race and wanted to do well. As the race went on, I knew I was in good shape for a good finish. When I crossed the line with a good time. My wife, Nancy came over and said I won the AG. I was shocked at that result!

XRCEL: What do you attribute to your success?

BN: There is not one thing that is the key to success. Many things come in to play to be successful in triathlon. My work ethic to take on each training day and get the job done and make no excuses. To get those workouts done, XRCEL has been there to keep me going. I have long hard days at my job. When I have an afternoon workout and feel beat, I know that XRCEL l will give me the fuel to get through the workout. Also having a great family behind me is key to success!

XRCEL: Nutrition is a big part of athletic performance.  They say it’s the 4th leg of multi-sport.  Many people are asking the question:  How do you use XRCEL in training and in racing?

BN: Timing is everything with nutrition! And that’s what XRCEL has done. All mornings before I ride, I grab a bottle of XRCEL while I’m getting ready and have it. It is the quickest and easiest way to fuel for early morningscreen-shot-2016-04-08-at-5-37-02-pm workouts.

In racing it is the same- one bottle before the race.  For longer training rides and races, I pour 3-4 bottles of XRCEL in a water bottle (undiluted) and sip it throughout the ride.  Or I also have a soft flask the will hold 2 1/2 bottles which is great for bike to run workouts.

XRCEL: What are the biggest nutrition mistakes you see other athletes make?

BN: Not practicing your nutrition plan in training. You shouldn’t go it to a race second guessing your nutrition. You have enough things to think about at races.

XRCEL: Have you made any funny mistakes while racing?

BN: Not really. I try to have everything in place for a race so no mistakes are made.

XRCEL: What’s the best advice you can give to someone who is new to the sport and just getting started?  Your best advice or tips for seasoned triathlete?

BN: For newbies to the sport, the best thing is to train with a local club or group. Right here we have the Jersey Shore Triathlon club .  It’s one of the largest clubs in NJ.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Every athlete was a beginner at one point and in the same boat.

The same goes for the seasoned triathlete. You would be surprised at some great ideas that you’ll learn from other athletes.

Best advice would be to all triathletes is to grab a Mountain Bike in the offseason. You’ll be surprised how it helps your bike handling skills.

XRCEL: Give us an example of your favorite training session/ workout and why?

BN: Not one session sticks out. But I have key workouts that I do that give me an idea where I’m at.

XRCEL: What’s next for you—what other races do you have planned for the remainder of this year?

BN: After AC 70.3    I have one more sprint Triathlon. Then its CX season. That is my favorite type of racing.

XRCEL: What are your expectations/ goals for Ironman AC 70.3?

BN: First is to have a flawless race then I would like to grab a spot for 70.3 world championship 2017.

XRCEL: What is your nutrition strategy for IM AC 70.3

BN: Plan on a good breakfast a few hours before my start. This is usually oatmeal for me. Then just stay hydrated all morning. 15-20 minutes before will be the first bottle of XRCEL. After the swim and on to the bike. I should be pretty good the first 45 mins. Then start hitting the bottles of water and drink on the bike. At the 1:15 mark on the bike, it will be another bottle of XRCEL. I always have a go-to snack on the bike for peace of mind. Gummi bears!  Then steady on the nutrition until end of the bike. On the run I’ll rely on the aid stations for water and sports drink. I’ll have another flask with me filled with XRCEL. This one I’ll sip on through the run. This is the plan.    

XRCEL: What does a typical day look like for you?

BN: Most days are a 5am start. I have to get training done most days in the morning. Or depending if I have 2 workouts on the schedule, it’s a workout in the morning then one at night. Then home to get ready for work and get my to kids ready for school. Most days for me I’m on the jobsite at 8 until 5-5:30. Then home to do what needs to be done to keep the family rolling.  I Try to hit bed around 10pm.  But with a family and my own business there is no such thing as a typical day!

XRCEL: You own busy masonry business and have a family-  how do you balance your heaving training and racing schedule?img_0013

BN:  It’s not an easy thing. It can be very tough some weeks depending on what is going on at work. I start most days at 5am. I get one training session in the am, then I’ll do a second one after work. I do this because I don’t want my training to get in the way of family time. I have a very supportive wife. She is very understanding about it. I have 2 kids also so I’ll work my training around their sport schedules. Sometimes I’ll ride to a soccer game or if either one has a game close to home I’ll run there.

It gets tough sometimes because the racing starts in March with cycling and ends in November with a 6 hour MTB race. I start most days at 5am.  I try to include the family in as many races as I can.

XRCEL: Do you have any favorite quotes or words of wisdom you live by?

BN: One that is always in my head before a time trial is “Get comfortable being uncomfortable”. Racing TTs is such a rush, but you are redline the whole time.

XRCEL: What is your driving force that keeps you going?

BN: My kids! They keep me moving all the time. Now that my daughter is into running, it is great to get to run with her and see her push herself.

XRCEL: What has been (or is) your greatest challenge?

BN: Juggling the business, family and racing is a big challenge. There is a fine line where this can fall apart. I sometimes have to step back from all the racing and training to remember I do this for fun.

XRCEL: Do you have a mentor and/or coach(s)?  How have they inspired you and impacted your life?

BN: Yes. Getting a coach for me has helped a lot. Ken Lundgren of Elite Endurance  is the man! He is able to change up my training through the year to keep competitive in all the aspects of my racing. We pick a few races for the year as “A” races and aim for them. He understands what my day consists of and tailors the workouts for me. And it works. When I’m having an off week and don’t feel like things are well, Ken’s advice is always positive and get me right back on track.

XRCEL: What’s next for you in 2017? Do you have any specific goals in mind?

BN: I’ll have a better idea for 2017 after AC 70.3. Still going to be racing but going to scale back the number of races.  Only have one chance with kids when they’re young. I don’t want to look back at these years with the kids and miss anything. The racing will always be there.

XRCEL: Tell us more about you!  Anything else we should know about you that you would like to share?

I want to thank everyone that helps me out all year racing.  Also, I can never thank her enough- My wife Nancy. She puts up with the alarm going off early when she can sleep in, piles of spandex laying around.  She deals with all the things that come with the training and racing. And really doesn’t say much. Love her so much! Thank you.

Thanks to XRCEL for giving me the opportunity for being part of team.

Thanks to Shore Cycling Sports  for keeping the bikes in tip top shape- you also can get XRCEL fuel here for your nutrition needs

Thanks to Kona 3  wetsuits for keeping me a float during the swims. I know I needed it.    

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