We last caught up with triathlete Helle Frederiksen late last year to learn more about her career as a professional athlete and the tremendous effort she’s invested to succeed. More recently, Frederiksen was kind enough to give us an even bigger glimpse into her life.
Triathlete Helle Frederiksen: A Q&A With Puori
Puori: How did you find your way into triathlon/Ironman?
Helle Frederiksen: Originally, my entry into triathlon was via a very local and hyggeligt (Danish for cosy) “Women with Power” event in Odense, Denmark. I was 23 years old and a spinning instructor at the time. Many of my spinning class participants persuaded me to give it a try. They knew of my swim background (I was a national team swimmer from the age of 12 to 18 years old) and they saw me running on a treadmill a few times. They thought I could be good at triathlon. So, I gave it a go.
I borrowed a bike and wore a baggy t-shirt, and I was a complete novice. I won that event but I didn’t get into triathlon at that time. Around two years later, I started to become more curious about the sport and also serious about training and competing.
Very quickly, I progressed, and this was mainly due to my history as a swimmer and my untapped talent as a runner. At 25 years of age, I was definitely a late starter in the sport. My jump into full-distance IRONMAN racing came nine years into my career as a professional triathlete. I have advanced through the Olympic distance, competing at the London 2012 Olympics.
Afterwards, following the Olympics, I moved to the half-distance format, also known as IRONMAN 70.3. Here, I really untapped my true potential, and the distance was so much better for me. In 2017, having accomplished so much in the half-distance — including a still-standing world best time of 3:55:50 for the 1.9km swim, 90km bike and 21.1km run format — I looked for a new challenge and moved up to the full-distance IRONMAN with my debut in Arizona, USA back in November 2017. I finished 2nd and claimed a Danish IRONMAN record at the time with a finish of 8:53:35.
A Typical Week in the Life of Helle
P: What does a typical week look like for you?
HF: A typical week for me is approximately 25 hours of training, spread across seven days — five swim sessions (averaging 4-5km each time), four to five bike sessions (the longest being six hours), and five to six run sessions (ranging in pace, anything from 3’30” per km for intervals and 5’00” for basic runs. I conduct strength training two to three times a week.
I eat lots and often! Also, I rest as much as possible when not training. I get massage and therapy treatments on average once per week.
Living a Life of Health and Balance
P: What does healthy mean to you?
FH: Health to me is the essence of life. I love life and I strongly believe in being healthy and looking after our health. Everyone has a responsibility for their own health. Unfortunately, there are challenges that are out of our control. However, there is no excuse not to take care of your body and live well.
Healthy eating habits and exercise should rank as the most important priorities we carry upon ourselves.
P: What do you feel are the biggest challenges in achieving a healthy lifestyle?
HF: I think the biggest challenge of all is for people to adopt and embrace a healthy way of living as a lifestyle, as opposed to it being a short-term fix. Being healthy is a lifelong commitment, and I believe for many, a lack of commitment is a result of little to no knowledge on what being healthy means for our body and our minds.
P: What achievement are you most proud of in your life?
HF: That’s a great question…It would have to be enabling myself to live the past 11 years of my life as a professional athlete. This has resulted in me travelling to almost every continent in the world and becoming an Olympian, a world champion and one of the fastest female triathletes on the planet.
I’m extremely proud of persevering my way through the toughest of times to experience the highest of highs and live the life that I’ve worked so hard for.
Frederiksen + Puori
P: How did you first come across Puori?
HF: I studied Human Nutrition as my Master degree and wrote my master thesis on omega-3 fatty acids and the effect on bone mineral density of teenage boys. I have a true appreciation for high quality in fish oil, as I know all too well how varied the quality level is of fish oil.
I purchased the omega-3 for its reputation as the highest quality available.
P: Why did you decide to become a Puori ambassador?
HF: To be honest, I simply wanted to carry this company’s values alongside my career and officially stand for the products. It’s such a natural endorsement for me. I can’t think of a better company to represent.
P: What’s your favourite Puori product and why?
HF: Omega-3. In my opinion, there’s no higher standard of fish oil on the market. This, I can’t shout about enough. High-quality fish oil is so important.
P: How do you maintain balance in life?
HF: I’m a planner, so planning is important for me to maintain balance. I’ve grown to learn the importance of not being overly consumed by one thing. Disconnecting from my job in the evenings, when my work (training) is done, is important for balance. For example, knowing when to take on my role as an athlete, when to be a supportive wife to my husband, etc., are just a few ways I try to strike balance in life.
Additionally, I believe that setting goals and having flexibility toward what it takes to achieve those goals brings a lot of calmness.
The Role of Supplementation
P: What role does supplementation play in your daily life?
HF: Supplementation is a reassurance that I get what my body is needing, especially when it’s under such high work stress. This is no different if you are a professional athlete or a hard-working business professional. Supplementation is simply key for us to be at our best.
It can be extremely challenging to consume the vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids that our bodies need to be at their best if we don’t supplement.
P: What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
HF: I once worked as a checkout girl at a local supermarket. I saved relentlessly and used the earnings to fund my six-month backpacking trip through Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia.
P: If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
HF: Dedicated, health-driven, straight shooter.
P: What book would you recommend that everyone should read?
HF: It’s one for the healthy and active female crowd…ROAR, by Dr. Stacy Sims.