Having summer off is no holiday

CHAD SCARSBROOK

, Last Updated: 10:00 AM ET

Blair Peters didn't think having the summer off would be so painful.

The Winnipegger was supposed to be competing in the Canadian junior triathlon championships in Edmonton last week as the defending champion. But instead of swimming, biking and running, the 18-year-old has been trapped at home unable to work out or train.

Everything seemed fine for Peters entering the triathlon season. He had been one of four named to the Triathlon Canada national development team. In addition to winning the national junior championship, he also won the national junior series last year.

But when he began training in the winter, his results were way down. His track workout times, in fact, kept getting worse each week. It got to the point he could barely run.

"At first we thought I had been over-training back in January," said Peters, noting it's not uncommon for high endurance athletes to train more than their body can handle. "I took a month off in February to try and rest, which is the only thing you can do.

But after the rest, the results hadn't changed. Ruling over-training out, the recent Vincent Massey grad, who's competed in triathlon since he was in Grade 9, consulted a doctor. That's when he was diagnosed with an iron deficiency. Peters is now taking supplements and undergoing regular blood tests. He'll miss the entire racing season to get healthy.

"It's pretty tough," said Peters, who has also committed to the University of Manitoba swim team next year. "The break was nice when school ended but after a couple of weeks, I didn't know what to do with myself. But the worst is over now. I've accepted the facts that I'm not racing. For awhile, it was a crummy few months. We tried to salvage the season and tried to figure out what was wrong. It's a relief now that we know."

Now, Peters can focus on rehabbing, building up his strength and getting back out on the track. It's not the first time he's faced adversity. Two years ago he was cycling in a pack during a race when a rider ahead of him fell, causing Peters to flip over top of him. It took about eight weeks for Peters to recover from a broken shoulder blade. He hopes for another triumphant return next year like last year when he came back from injury to win at nationals.

NUTRITIONIST

He's seeing a nutritionist who has Peters on a high-iron diet including steak, pumpkin seeds and spinach. He says it will be a challenge when he returns to the gym after taking much of the summer off. Training twice a day, 30 hours a week, Peters can't wait to get back into a pool.

He'll typically swim every morning and cycle and run in the early evening with some weight training at night. It's mostly about cardio for triathletes as strength is secondary. But when it comes to weights, Peters likes lower body squats to increase cycling power and chin-ups to help in the pool.

"I'm pretty confident I'll get back to where I was," said Peters whose long-term goal is to compete in the 2016 Olympics. "I think it will be OK. It will just be a little bit of a process."


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