Name: Christina Ekonomi
Where do you live? Santa Barbara, CA
What type of athlete are you? Triathlete
Do you have a day job or are you a professional athlete? I worked in an office for over 20 years as a marketing professional. Last year I left the corporate office behind and now teach cycling and yoga. I am also in the process of getting my personal trainer certification and USAT triathlon coach certification.
How long have you been participating in this sport? 7 years
Who are your biggest influences? Who do you admire most? When I first started out in the sport, I really admired Chrissie Wellington. I am also a huge fan of Mirindia Carfrae, Meredith Kessler and Gwen Jorgensen. They are all pro women who recently became mothers and have returned to the sport stronger than ever, which is so inspiring for me as I am a mom too. My biggest influence has probably been my own mom. She basically raised my brother and I on her own since my dad was in the Navy and always gone. We moved around a lot when I was little and she took care of everything by herself with no family around to support her. Looking back at it now as a mother myself (I have a lot of shlep and support from my family) gives me even more appreciate and admiration for all she did. She has always encouraged me to reach for the stars in everything I've done no matter how crazy and always pushed me to do my best. I owe her for my drive and fierce independence.
What is your training regimen? I train 7 days a week, with a rest day every three weeks, although if I am feeling like I need a break before then, I'll take it. I try to listen to my body as much as possible and rest it when needed. I used to push through sickness and fatigue and I've learned that is not smart. All days are not hard though which is important when you train as much as I do. There are interval workouts to build strength and speed mixed in with easy days to allow the body to recover and long runs/rides on the weekends to build endurance.
How do you structure your days? On a typical day, I wake up around 5 am to teach a spin or yoga class, come home get my twins ready for preschool, drop them off for the morning, get my workouts and errands done, then pick them up and spend the rest of the day devoted to them and family time. They attend preschool three days a week, so this is my "me" time when I try to get workouts done. I am usually back picking them up still dressed in my spandex or workout attired and often times a sweaty mess! I try to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night, so I am usually in bed by 9:30-10 PM.
Do you find your diet to be a crucial part of your lifestyle? If so, what diet tips would you recommend to your followers? Yes, they say diet/nutrition is the fourth discipline in triathlon and I've found it to be really true. The days I eat poorly, I really notice it affects my workouts and how I feel during training. I used to be very strict and count calories. I am a little more lax now since having kids and indulge in pizza and ice cream with them most Friday nights. I try to keep a balance between eating clean, but don't take it to the extreme I once did. The key is balance and food is energy. If you don't eat enough, it is going to affect your workouts negatively as well. It's also very easy to become dehydrated if you don't take in adequate fluid and electrolytes during a long hard workout. I bonked big time during the run at a half Ironman race earlier this year because I became dehydrated on the bike. Once that happens, it's very difficult to recover.
How do you care for your body and health aside from your sport? I’m a certified yoga instructor and try to incorporate yoga into my routine as much as possible, even just 10 minutes. Aside from the physical aspect of this sport and keeping the body primed, the mental aspect I would argue is just as important if not more so. I have had struggles with anxiety for many years. I credit triathlon and yoga with helping me to manage it without medication. Stretching is also crucial to avoiding injuries. I haven't had a major injury yet (knock on wood) and I credit that to practicing yoga.
What is your impression of the Silipos products we sent you? How did they add value to you? What did you like about them? I'm very impressed. I've been dealing with some pain during runs from what I think is a minor strain in one of my toes and the first time I ran with the gel toe protector, the pain completely vanished. It's still there when I remove the protector, but as soon as I put it back on the pain disappears. I have bunions too, so I've been wearing the gel bunion sleeve which has also brought relief. I don't even notice it's on when running.
Would you recommend Silipos products to other athletes? Yes, absolutely. Especially to anyone who gets blisters, bunions or other minor irritations on the feet, which is probably 95% of all athletes. They really provide tremendous relief.
What is something that your followers do not know about you, that you find to be very important to your personal lifestyle? Hmmm this is a tough one. I try to be pretty transparent on social media. I think a lot of people don't know that I wasn't always athletic. In my 20's I drank a lot, partied and was about 25-30 lbs. heavier. I didn't workout, ate total crap and it showed. I look younger and feel better than I ever did in my 20's. Some people who knew me then are shocked to hear that I'm now a competitive triathlete.
What keeps you motivated when you are faced with challenges? My family, my husband and twin boys. I honestly couldn't do this without them. Also, the friendships I've made through social media and the support from the Instagram triathlon community is like nothing I've experienced before. At my last race so many people recognized me from Instagram and stopped to chat or tell me how I've inspired them. It really opened my eyes to how profound and powerful social media is. Knowing people are tracking me and rooting for me definitely keeps me going during the tough times. And during that tough run I had a few months ago at Gulf Coast the support and encouragement from the volunteers and other athletes on the course was what helped get me to that finish line. People think that triathlon is a solo sport and to an extent it is...I spend hours training alone, but out on the course the comradery I've experienced is truly amazing.
What is one piece of advice you would give to an aspiring athlete? Enjoy the journey and don't get too caught up in the data. It's wonderful to have goals, achieve PR's and stand on podiums, but it's easy to get so caught up in the results we forget to enjoy the moment. The memories I've made and people I've met are worth so much more than any medal. I almost turned down a spot to the Ironman 70.3 World Championships this year because I felt I didn't deserve it, but then realized I did in fact deserve this opportunity. The journey I've been on and hard work put in opened the door for me. It's no coincidence. I'm going to seize the moment and experience. If an opportunity presents itself, go for it. Don't let anyone, least of all yourself, hold you back.
You can continue to follow Christina’s active journey through life on her social media channels below!
Facebook: Christina Ekonomi
Products mentioned in this post on Amazon: