Q&A with an Olympian in the Making: Kim Kilgroe
I ask triathlete, coach, aspiring Olympian and fellow buko lover, Kim Kilgroe, about exercise, training and what Filipinos can do to support our athletes.
1- Tell us a bit about yourself. Where was home when you were growing up?
Kim: I was born on the coast of California, and grew up partially in Missouri and Northern California before relocating to Southern California.
2- I read that you moved to the Philippines just a few years ago in 2012. Was moving a difficult transition? What do you like about living in the Philippines?
Kim: I was living in Manila from the end of 2011 thru 2012, and since then go back and forth now 3–4 times per year. In between training camps abroad, I split my time half/half between Subic Bay and LA. The Philippines, although heavily influenced by the West, retains many cultural & community values that I appreciate seeing the contrast. I love being connected to my roots in Zambales and plan to maintain the family house we have in the province. My love for buko may be another primary reason as well. There’s nothing like having a freshly hacked buko when you’ve sweat half of your body weight in a tough session! Sarap.
3- I speak as someone who cries (on the inside) when she’s on the treadmill: What attracted you to the horrors of triathlons? Were you always a lover of sports?
Kim: Haha, well to me, there is pain and struggle but it’s the struggle I choose. I’m gratified in overcoming the tests I submit myself to. For me, sports has always been an outlet, a place where I can go to reset, express myself, and push myself beyond what I think is possible.
4- Any training tips for beginners interested in participating in triathlons?
Kim: Yeah, lots! It depends on the individual as everyone has different physiology, experience, and goals- but in general, I say focus on the swim. If you aren’t comfortable swimming, you need to dedicate the frequency to practicing and learning. Frequency is more important than duration, as in, get in the water as many times per week as possible rather than trying to do one big session one the weekend only. That’s not going to fast track your progress. Frequency allows for quicker muscle memory and adaptation. Using the pull buoy and small hand paddles really help accelerate developing the strength needed.
5- Is there a triathlon that sticks out to you the most? Do you have a favorite race or moment?
Kim: From this year, one of my favorite races was Mt. Mayon triathlon, an Olympic distance over a tough course in hot/ rainy conditions. Although not a big race, I surprised myself by coming first of the water. It’s a great event with a fun and festive environment there in Legazpi, and a great “cool down” race one week after Cebu 70.3. Definitely recommend it to newbies as well.
6- This question is so totally not for me: My, um, friend, who is totally real, usually focuses on cardio as a way to lose weight. But she primarily uses the elliptical machine. As a coach, what is an important focus when you train people? Is variety in exercise important or can us light-weight gym users set in our ways find results if we prefer one type of exercise?
Kim: For someone who really likes using one type of machine or type of exercise, like the elliptical- great! I find it’s more important that you really like whatever movement or exercise it is, because that keeps you motivated to staying consistent in doing it. Whether the stationary bike, treadmill, stair master, elliptical etc, there are many ways to mix up the routine and get a lung-busting workout.
Interval-training is the most effective way to push yourself to better levels of fitness, and doing so allows you to cut down the duration because it’s more high-quality than say a 1 hr steady pace session. Doing sets like half an hour of: 30 sec really hard, 30 sec easy recovery. Or alternating 15 sec hard, 45 sec easy.. Or 45 hard, 15 easy, or a combination of all three — will really help elevate the intensity so that you’re pumping hard and then get to recover. It also structures the time and keeps your mind busy so you can’t ease off for long periods of time while watching TV :-) incorporating intervals into the routine for any type of cardio keeps things varied and helps you get a much more efficient workout.
7- On your Facebook page, you expressed an interest in participating in the Tokyo Olympics. Is your training regimen significantly different to how you would train for triathlons?
Kim: I’m grateful to be training under top Olympic and Ironman Champion athlete coach Brett Sutton. We intend to get me to Olympic level of competition within the next 4 years, and I’ve just now completed the first year in foundational training camps with him.
There are essentially two very types of triathlon: Olympic distance (short course raced in the Olympics), and the Ironman distance (long course). We are focusing my training on the short, speed stuff in preparation for Tokyo 2020. Full-time training consists of doing 3–8 week blocks in various European and Asian training camps throughout the year, with my trips to my Philippines base in between. It’s not glamorous, it’s a bit anxiety- producing, and I have a mountain to climb, but I know deep down it can be done. Chipping away!
8- After our weightlifting heroine Hidilyn Diaz (whom I hope we see more of in future) do you think our Filipino athletes are showing more promise in competing on an international level than in previous years? What might have been missing before? And can we do anything to support Filipino athletes?
Kim: Certainly, and I definitely hope so! What we can do is focus on development of excellent coaches who can foster grassroots development of appropriate aged youth. This is the key element that is still missing. You must train the local coaches well so that they can go out and guide the talent, develop a healthy base, so that when the athlete is ready for international competition, there is not already a huge gap to make up.
It is also an advocacy that I’m working on as a part time swim and tri coach, with one of my projects to continue promoting youth clinics in various provinces.
On the government level, the funding needs to help develop world class coaches first, and the rest can take seed. It’s a process that takes many years and even generations to manifest.
9- You have quite a following on Facebook and Instagram. That number will surely grow now that you are aiming for the Olympics. Where is your fandom coming from?
Well mostly triathletes and aspiring athletes from the Philippines and US. I hope to continue reaching more people with the message that it is never too late to pursue a new challenge, to acquire difficult skills (like swimming), and to encourage more youth to participate as well. I’ve always been an advocate for healthy and active living — as a lifestyle, not a trend :) and the idea that whatever it is, even beyond sports- that everyone has value to bring to the world and can live unlimited — beyond what they may have initially believed possible.
10- GAME TIME! You must choose only one of each:
a- Running along a flat, calm beach OR uphill mountain path
Bring on the hills! Beaches are for vacations..
b- Buko juice OR Chocolate smoothie
Is that even a question? Hehe. Buko queen for life. :]
c- Chicken Adobo OR Lechon Kawali
d-Spinning Class OR Biking outdoors at your own pace
Outdoors is free!