Preparing for a triathlon at sea

Having access to the latest or best gym equipment is of little point if the motivation to exercise isn’t there. And when you are at sea training facilities are often in short supply therefore motivation has to be higher than someone ashore – something DP Operator and Ironman contender Radoslaw Walczak has significant amounts of.

Third Officer, Radoslaw is currently based on board a DP shuttle tanker operating in Brazil while at the same time training to compete in Ironman competitions. An ironman competition is a triathlon event, which typically involves a 3.8km swim, 180km cycle and a 42km run.


Radoslaw on the 90km cycle ride at the Gdynia half-ironman challenge on 7 August 2016

“Most vessels have basic training facilities like a treadmill, bike and weights,” explains Radoslaw. I really missed training when I went to sea. Exercise as everyone knows has many physical benefits – from improving sleep and state of mind as well as concentration. So I decided to do something about it. “

Training for a triathlon event can take up two to three hours a day so how does Radoslaw manage this? “It can be difficult however if you really want something, you find the time by giving up other activities – in my case playing games or watching TV.


Despite the fact you are surrounded by water getting resistance training to build up for the event is the biggest challenge. “You can train with resistance bands, which emulates the feel and resistance of a swimming pull stretch,” adds Radoslaw. “Riding the bike and running is of course different on a machine than in reality but you are able to do most of the programme.”

Nutrition plays a big part in training so regular meals on board with the correct nutrition is essential – eat healthy. Michael Wiesner, director of training at V.Group’s catering school in Manila explains some of the elements that are required in a diet to support such an activity.

“An average adult burns around 2,000 calories per day, during a three hour training session our Ironman may burn an additional 1,800 calories. Food is fuel and if you plan to complete a heavy training session you need the right kind of fuel.

“Athletes run on a source of energy converted from carbohydrates. It is best to get 50 to 60 per cent of daily calories from carbohydrates such as fruit, vegetables and whole grains, with 25 to 30 per cent from healthy fats – avocado, olive oil, omega 3’s for example and the rest from lean protein sources. This can include chicken, beans, lentils, egg white and even sweet potato.”

Michael also highlights the importance of staying hydrated during exercise: “A good starting point is two to three litres of water per day.”

“While ironman training isn’t for everyone, we work with professional nutritionists in the Ukraine, India and Philippines to ensure that our Ship cooks understand nutritional requirements. Our crew will find all the nutrition they need on board their vessel regardless of their training aspirations.”