Interview: Amway Employee and Team USA Member AJ Herbel

AJHerbelInterview-Amway2016GRTphoto_smallAJ Herbel, age 27, is a Chemical Quality Control Scientist who has worked at Amway for five year. He began as an athlete running cross country and track in middle school and that continued through college. After graduating from Manchester College, he took up cycling and this lead into competing as a duathlete. The transition into triathlons just seemed like a natural progression after that. He wasn’t the most confident swimmer so after his first triathlon he took an 8 month hiatus, but came back better prepared and more confident the following year. This is AJ’s fourth year competing as a triathlete.

While his best and most experienced discipline is the run, AJ says he has the most fun and really enjoys the cycling portion. “It’s all about power, position and technique to fine tune your speed. The cycling discipline is always different race to race and can have the most variety. Swimming is the biggest challenge when it comes to competing because it’s where he has the least experience. While his work schedule doesn’t usually allow him the time to do many group rides or runs, AJ is thankful Amway has a cycling club that he can participate in once a week, but most of his workouts are on his own so self-motivation is key.

The highlight of AJ’s triathlon career was qualifying for 2015 Long Course World Championship in Motala, Sweden. He earned his spot on Team USA by competing at the USAT Long Course National Championship at the 2014 Grand Rapids Triathlon. AJ says, “The experience of wearing a Team USA jersey is something I will never forget. Competing internationally with such a great group of American athletes is a lifetime accomplishment and I’m so proud and grateful for the opportunity.” After a very big 2015, competing internationally, AJ is looking forward to doing several Sprint and Olympic distance events. He’s all about quantity this year and trying to do as many as he can this season. He’ll be participating in the Olympic Distance here at the Grand Rapids Tri.

After all of the structure and scheduling from his early years competing at the collegiate level, AJ trains very much by “feel now.” He prefers to slowly ramp up to his summer training schedule of about 5 days a week. When it comes to training he’s all about quality over quantity. The length of the workout is all dependent on the distance he’s planning on competing in during tri season. He aims to do 3 to 4 workouts a week by winters end, whether it’s swimming, running, or occasionally spinning. He really only starts cycling hard when the weather is nice. He feels its easier to push hard and challenge himself in the natural environment. Once spring hits he works out 5 days a week with the occasional brick. On his one or two days off he’ll work on stretching and core work. When it comes to training AJ says, “Of course you have to be physically prepared, but I also strongly believe that confidence in yourself and in your training has the biggest impact during a race. “

After all of the structure and scheduling from his early years competing at the collegiate level, AJ trains very much by “feel now.” He prefers to slowly ramp up to his summer training schedule of about 5 days a week. When it comes to training he’s all about quality over quantity. The length of the workout is all dependent on the distance he’s planning on competing in during tri season. He aims to do 3 to 4 workouts a week by winters end, whether it’s swimming, running, or occasionally spinning. He really only starts cycling hard when the weather is nice. He feels its easier to push hard and challenge himself in the natural environment. Once spring hits he works out 5 days a week with the occasional brick. On his one or two days off he’ll work on stretching and core work. When it comes to training AJ says, “Of course you have to be physically prepared, but I also strongly believe that confidence in yourself and in your training has the biggest impact during a race.”

After a race, AJ likes to reward himself with a cookout with family and friends. He likes to invite his friends and fellow competitors over to reflect on the race while relaxing and playing yard games. We look forward to seeing AJ out on the course and thank him and Amway for being part of our event.

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