Rebeccah Wassner began competing in triathlons professionally in 2004 and was not only inspiring fans of the sport, but also motivating her twin sister. Laurel, an athlete herself, watched her sister school the competition in races while she fought (and beat) Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at age 23. “I was her number one cheerleader,” Laurel says. Rebeccah’s success on the triathlon circuit fueled Laurel’s desire to get strong and healthy again. In 2008, Laurel was selected as the 2008 USA Pro Triathlon Rookie of the Year. Talk about a comeback!
We spoke with the Wassner twins about their amazing journey together, the power of a training partner and their work with the LIVESTRONG foundation.
Do you train together?
Rebeccah: Yes. Since I’ve been doing this longer, I tend to call the shots. I’ve had the opportunity to train with so many great athletes, so when I’m training with Laurel, I try to show her what I’ve learned from them. Of course, just having Laurel out there is a huge motivation for me.
Laurel: Bec is very driven and focused. I try to provide some of the fun, and try to keep the workouts interesting. We usually motivate each other without even talking—maybe it’s a “twin thing.” Before we know it, we’ll be racing!
What does a typical day or week of training look like for you two? How important is cross training for triathlon success?
Rebeccah: Our sport is all about cross training! To succeed you have to be able to balance swimming, biking and running, plus Laurel and I are devoted to Pilates. We take a class twice a week at our gym. It helps keep us balanced and injury free.
A typical day would look like this:
- Healthy breakfast and coffee
- 5k swim and stretching at the gym
- Second healthy breakfast
- Rest and check email
- Two to three hour bike ride followed by a three to eight mile run
- Relax and healthy dinner
Wow, that sounds intense! Do you have any tips for beginners who are thinking about tackling their first triathlon?
Laurel: Finding a good group of people to train with is essential. You want to make sure you do the training so that you can be in good enough shape to enjoy every second of the race with a smile on your face.
Rebeccah: Have fun! Your first triathlon should be all about having a good time, enjoying the day and taking it all in. A great way to get started as a beginner is to join a charity training program, like the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults (founded by Doug Ulman, CEO of LIVESTRONG) Team FIGHT. Not only do you raise money for a cause, but you also are provided with instant training partners, coaches, and group workouts.
Can you tell us more about your partnership with LIVESTRONG?
It’s very important to us to not only win races but to also use our position as professional athletes to raise awareness for young adult cancer issues. Partnering with LIVESTRONG does just that. We are able to connect with and impact the lives of so many people affected by cancer and hopefully help them out in some way. Our partnership with LIVESTRONG helps us show cancer fighters and survivors all over the world what is possible.
More from FITNESS: Sisters and Survivors: How Siblings with Cancer Can Help Us Find a Cure