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As Paul Felder prepares for 70.3 Atlantic Metropolis on September 10, he’s not simply utilizing the occasion as a farewell to the half distance earlier than leaping to full Ironman in 2023. The previous top-ten ranked blended martial arts (MMA) fighter is racing just because he loves a problem.

“I could do it a pair instances simply to do it, as a result of I just like the half distance,” he mentioned. “I believe 70.3 is simply lengthy sufficient the place it’s a struggle of attrition in addition to a pace recreation.”

If there’s one factor Felder is aware of higher than most, it’s the struggle of attrition. For almost a decade of his life, the Philadelphian competed as an expert blended martial artist—the final six-plus years spent on the top of the game within the Final Preventing Championship (UFC). There, he constructed a status as not simply top-of-the-line lightweights (155 kilos) on this planet, however some of the thrilling, somebody keen to offer all of it on battle night time.

However when it was throughout and Felder formally introduced his retirement in Might 2021, he wanted to fill that aggressive void. He discovered it in triathlon, which he had already began dabbling in earlier than his closing battle towards Rafael Dos Anjos in November 2020. “Dabbling” will be the unsuitable phrase, since Felder is unsurprisingly all-in on every thing he does.

Paul Felder kicks Rafael Dos Anjos of Brazil in a 2020 Las Vegas UFC Struggle Night time. (Photograph: Jeff Bottari/Getty Photographs)

“After I first began, I needed to have one thing that was simply sort of enjoyable to do in between MMA coaching and one thing that was going to maintain me just a little bit fitter in life,” he mentioned. “Then I stumbled upon triathlons, and I used to be like, I’ll do that for enjoyable. After which like something, since I had a bit of professional sports activities expertise, guys took me beneath their wing and would chat with me, and I simply obtained sucked into the tradition of it. And these guys are far more badass than folks give them credit score for. The s*** they’re doing is grueling. It’s brutal.”

Now the 38-year-old is one in every of them, all-in on his new sport whereas additionally doing commentary for UFC occasions, performing (he lately appeared on HBO’s Hacks), and spending household time together with his girlfriend and their two children. And whereas nothing is simple about triathlon coaching, there may be one profit to having hung up the gloves.

“The distinction off the bat is the affect,” Felder mentioned. “Your armor must be totally different in MMA. You’re conditioning for injury and your sturdiness must be locked in. You won’t have the identical fuel tank as a triathlete, however your skill to grind and push by way of circumstances for survival functions, it’s a complete totally different stage of cardio when a man’s making an attempt to choke you out versus me making an attempt to run this mile actually exhausting.”

(Photograph: FinisherPix)

Whereas preventing, Felder would solely run three days per week, which was supplemented by three days of sparring and grappling observe. Right this moment, a typical day may see him give attention to his operating, adopted the subsequent day by a go to to the pool, and, after all, bike work. None of which incorporates getting punched, kicked or choked.

And although swimming was an early subject, as soon as he hit the Ironman 70.3 course in Virginia in June, he was a pure, ending in 5:27:26, adequate for one hundred and thirty fifth total and twenty third in his age group. He’s continued to enhance in every of the 4 70.3s he’s raced since, and he’s hoping to PR in Atlantic Metropolis this month.

“I wish to do 29 to 32 minutes on the swim, bike proper round two hours, possibly 2:05. And I gotta hit not less than 1:28 for the run,” mentioned Felder, who’s coached by David Tilbury-Davis, who can be the previous coach of Felder’s inspiration and coaching buddy Lionel Sanders, with whom he raced at Might’s PTO Professional AM. “I raced this race final yr and that is all the time one in every of my ‘A’ races as a result of it’s shut, it’s flat, it’s in Atlantic Metropolis, I fought there so many instances, and it’s simple for me to go and do. My PR is 4:42 for a half, so I’d positively wish to get sub 4:30 for AC. And if I wish to come near the highest 5, I’m gonna most likely have to try this even nearer to 4:12-4:15, which may be a bit pushing it, however f*** it. In case you don’t have a loopy objective, why am I even doing these items?”

Paul Felder (middle) poses with relay workforce members Haven Shepherd (R) and Lionel Sanders (L) at Might’s PTO Professional AM in Los Angeles. (Photograph: Donald Miralle/Challenged Athletes Basis)

Seems like Paul Felder the fighter, not simply Paul Felder the triathlete. And that’s exactly the purpose.

“I like that feeling of overcoming stuff and I’ve all the time preached that,” he mentioned. “As a fighter, you’ve obtained to simply dig your ft into the bottom generally and go for it. And that’s how I’m with this sport. If I give up, every thing I’ve ever talked about is simply BS. Typically it’s actually scary and it actually sucks, however you’ve obtained to persevere.”

Title Card: MMA Vs. Tri – A Look At Felder’s Coaching

A Week In The Life OfPaul Felder, MMA Fighter Turned Triathlete

“Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in [MMA] camp I might do a really particular lifting program with my coach – plenty of Olympic lifts mixed with explosive actions,” Felder mentioned. “Deadlifts straight to field jumps or broad jumps.

“On Fridays, we might do a circuit specializing in excessive ranges of depth – 30 second, one-minute bursts of ball slams, farmer’s carries, sprints, and plenty of sled pushes. Typically we might combine in pad work with these exercises, as nicely.

“On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and weekends I might swim or run. On Saturday, I might do a tough treadmill dash interval with plenty of uphill work. Blended in with this is able to be all of our MMA work.”

RELATED: Power Coaching for Triathletes

Monday Carry within the AM (fasted), eat after

90 min exhausting kickboxing drills adopted by 5x5min rounds of full-contact MMA sparring

90 min bag / pad work at night time Tuesday 5-mile fasted run within the AM

Group MMA grappling – 90 min drills adopted by 5x5min rounds of exhausting grappling with MMA gloves

90min pad/bag work at night time Wednesday Carry

90 min MMA sparring with little (four-ounce) gloves on

Pads at night time Thursday 5-mile fasted run

MMA grappling like Tuesday

Pads at night time, or some extra grappling Friday Circuit and dash work (fasted)

90 min wrestling observe

Pads at night time, contains leap rope and shadowboxing Saturday Sleep in a bit

10 rounds of Jiu-Jitsu within the gi, or kickboxing rounds

Swim or treadmill sprints Sunday Run, swim, or relaxation

Typically a 24-hour quick to make weight simple

Paul Felder’s Triathlon Coaching Exercise

“My favourite exercises with triathlon must be the longer brick exercises,” Felder mentioned. “I like my days when I’ve a really lengthy bike exercise adopted by a brief exhausting race tempo run. I additionally love open-water swimming. I prepare wherever from 10-20 hours for 70.3 races, normally 15 hours. However with my journey generally that dips off.”

(Photograph: FinisherPix)

Pattern – August 14 Exercise

“My exercise was a 20-minute warmup, I ran it comparatively simple at wherever from 8:00 to eight:15 min/mile, after which it was a mile above threshold, so nearly all out, and I ran that at 6:02,” Felder mentioned. “After which I needed to do 5 instances a mile, so 5 miles with a minute break in between each. I needed to do all these at race tempo, which is 6:30 to six:40 for the half. After which I needed to do one other mile above threshold quicker than I did that first threshold mile, and that’s after I obtained 5:51.

“Triathlon coaching is totally brutal, however I can recuperate from it and return to it. I ran these paces yesterday, and immediately I swam 3,500 yards at threshold paces for the swim, so I used to be doing units of 300 yards, after which I ran six miles simple across the neighborhood and that was at 7:55 tempo, coronary heart charge at 140.”

So What’s More durable: MMA Preventing or Triathlon?

“(Throughout an MMA coaching camp) I might solely run three days per week, however I might spar thrice per week,” Felder mentioned. “And every a kind of sparring classes, the subsequent day, you’re like, ‘Oh my God,’ however it’s a must to rise up and then you definately gotta go grapple. Muscularly, I might say MMA crushed you, however so far as that digging deep mentally generally and pushing your lungs to the restrict, I say triathlon takes it. Once you’re operating 13.1 miles and also you’re making an attempt to do it at round 1:30ish to under that, you’re cooking. 13.1 miles is a very long time to run after a motorcycle trip and a swim to attempt to run a six-something, seven-minute tempo. And the professionals are doing that at a 5:30 tempo. They’re sprinting, uphill generally, on these programs.”

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