In our Question and Answer blogs, Nuun athletes introduce themselves to the Nuuniverse and (in their own words) dig a little deeper into their life as an athlete, muuver, and human!
+ Name/ Location/ Sport
Helle Frederiksen / Denmark / Triathlon
+ Can you tell us what drew you to your sport in the first place, and what drew you to this level of performance?
My beginnings as an elite performer came as a swimmer. I learnt to swim at the age of 5 and by the time I was 7 years old I was competing. I spent the next 11 years competing and developed to become a National Team swimmer for Denmark, as a junior and elite athlete. But like all good things, it doesn’t last forever. At the age of 18, I became eager to excel at something else, this was to be my studies. So from the age of 18, I no longer swam and instead turned my focus to successfully completing my Bachelor Degree in Sport Science and then following this, my Master Degree in Human Nutrition. My introduction to Triathlon would come during my time studying. I took a sabbatical period in Australia and it was here that I really fell in love with the sport having only completed a “Women with Power” novice triathlon. I did win that race but it would be several years later that I really got the Triathlon bug. Quickly it became clear that I had potential to excel in the sport of triathlon. Following successful completion of my Master Degree in 2008, I turned professional and targeted competing in the Olympics as the primary motivator to reach a world-class level in the sport. My journey through the triathlon ranks has been developing year-by-year until I retired as a World Champion, Olympian, 10 x IRONMAN 70.3 Champion, World’s fastest half-distance time holder and many other accolades to my name. Triathlon as a sport has given me the most valuable of life experiences that I will now carry forward into my next career chapter.
+ When you’re not training specifically in either swimming, cycling or running, what’s your second favorite form of muuvment?
I really enjoy functional training and keeping my body conditioned. You don’t have to be a professional athlete to be healthy, fit and active. Neither do you need a reason to pursue a strong and fit physique, other than that reason to be strong and to be fit.
+ You Just finished a killer workout, what’s the first thing you’re grabbing from your fridge?
Natural yoghurt, granola, seeds, berries, nuts and it all goes together. Refueling is so key to how well our body absorbs our exercise so my thoughts, in the latter part of the training are often towards food and the recovery.
+ Early Bird or Afternuun Owl? Are you most likely to plan your workout in the morning or evening? Walk us through a day in your life.
I’m an early bird, through and through. When I was a professional athlete, it would be extremely rare, even if I had a 6 hour training day, that I would train past 4PM. I love my mornings and the routine of rising early, eating breakfast as a priority, conducting the training/work I need to and then being able to enjoy a good evening dinner and relax at home. This for me is what gives me the most energy from my days. I am very structured and often always know the plan for my following day. I do believe it is important to have flexibility in terms of our approach and we should not be a slave to structure, but for me personally, structure brings me results and brings out my best.
+ Do you have any heroes/ idols/ mentors in your sport of choice?
I wouldn’t say I have a single stand-out hero / idol / mentor in my sport, or any sport for that matter. I take inspiration from those who are dedicated. Individuals who aspire to be something and turn over every stone to achieve what they aim for. This can be a professional or amateur in sport or life in general. I carry a lot of admiration for the likes of Jan Frodeno, Sebastian Kienle, Javier Gomez, Flora Duffy and many others, who are champions on the highest level in the sport of triathlon, they remain down to earth, professional and passionate about what they do. They don’t get complacent and they are continually seeking ways to be better, this for me is inspirational and a great example for others to follow.
+What’s your favorite flavor & way to consume Nuun?
Oh now that is a tough one. Personally I think Nuun have really nailed the flavors. I would say there isn’t a bad flavor, but if I had to choose one flavor, I love the Strawberry & Lemonade flavor of Nuun Sport. I’m not sure I’d consider myself a “normal” consumer, but maybe one day people will consume Nuun the way I do. I typically consume 500ml of Nuun Sport at the start of any day, it’s a part of my morning routine when preparing my breakfast. Hydration is so often overlooked, by both sports and non-sports people, so my consumption of a 500ml bottle with Nuun Sport at the start of a day is to help start my day off right. Then beyond this Nuun is an integrated part of my training consumption, I rarely have just water during my workouts. I use a combination of Nuun Sport and Nuun Endurance. It is important to know how our bodies use electrolytes and when they require energy. My consumption of Nuun products will be determined by my training workouts, weather and humidity.
+ If we’re talking big dreams, how do you want to be remembered in your sport?
Professional, fierce and a consistent performer. An individual, that if on a start line, is always going to be in the mix to win.
+ What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome – mental or physical?
Injury, for me, has really tested my physical and mental strength. The volume of injury I have been required to overcome to reach the height of my career has been incredible. There isn’t one injury that I would say has been the biggest, there has been many big injuries/obstacles but it is the accumulation of injury through a career that really defines how successful we are as athletes. Injury can and does end athletes careers’ and my own career came close, several times, to ending prematurely due to injury, however I persevered and grew in perseverance. Looking back this is ultimately what enabled me to rise as high as I did. It was extremely difficult and testing but the satisfaction of coming out the other side and winning made it all worth it.
+ Life after sport: What are you most looking forward to now that you have closed your career as a professional athlete?
I’m most looking forward to exploring the unknown and creating a new chapter of my life. I always said to myself that I would call time on my racing career when I was at the top, when I felt I was still capable of high performances and being competitive at major competitions, this I did, and I am proud of that. My plan has purposely been to not over commit myself with new things. For the 11 years that I raced as a professional my life was all about high-performance, turning every stone and being as dedicated as I could be to being my best. I know that when the right opportunity comes up I will apply the same mentality to another goal and another chapter, therefore it is very important for me that I allow myself the time to relax and take things a little easier. One thing I have learnt since I announced my retirement as a professional athlete is that I truly enjoy enabling people to be a better version of themselves. Right now this is the case in triathlon and my natural adoption as a mentor to others. I’m really enjoying being a source of inspiration to people and helping them better what they know through sharing my knowledge and expertise. I have built this over 11 years as a professional and I have made many mistakes along the way, if I can contribute to the success of others by just sharing what I know, this makes me happy that I am not the only one benefitting from my success as an athlete.
+Anything else you want to say?
Not for now, just live your best active and healthy lifestyle, every day.