Top-10 Ranked Veteran Paul Felder on MMA vs. Triathlon – Triathlete


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As Paul Felder prepares for 70.3 Atlantic City on Sept. 10, he’s not just using the event as a farewell to half distance before moving on to full Ironman in 2023. The martial arts veteran mixed (MMA) ranked in the top ten runs simply because he likes a challenge.

“I can do it a few times just to do it, because I like the half distance,” he said. “I think 70.3 is just long enough where it’s a war of attrition as well as a game of speed.”

If there’s one thing Felder knows better than anyone, it’s the war of attrition. For nearly a decade of his life, the Philadelphian competed as a professional mixed martial artist – the last six plus years at the pinnacle of the sport in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). There he built a reputation not just as one of the best lightweights (155 pounds) in the world, but as one of the most exciting, someone ready to give it their all on fight night.

But when it was all over and Felder officially announced his retirement in May 2021, he had to fill that competitive void. He found it in triathlon, which he had already started trying his hand at before his last fight against Rafael Dos Anjos in November 2020. “Dabbling” might not be the right word, as Felder is unsurprisingly all-in on everything he does.

Paul Felder kicks Brazilian Rafael Dos Anjos during a UFC fight night in Las Vegas in 2020. (Photo: Jeff Bottari/Getty Images)

“When I started I wanted to have something fun to do between MMA training and something that was going to keep me in shape a bit in life,” he said. “Then I came across triathlons, and I thought to myself, I’m going to do this for fun. And then like everything, since I had a bit of experience in professional sports, the guys took me under their wing. and were chatting with me, and I just got sucked into the culture of it. And these guys are way more badass than people think. The shit they do is grueling. It’s brutal.”

Now the 38-year-old is one of them, while taking part in his new sport while commentating on UFC events, playing (he recently appeared on HBO’s hacks), and spending time with his family with his girlfriend and their two children. And while nothing is easy in triathlon training, there is a benefit to having hung up the gloves.

“The difference at the start is the impact,” Felder said. “Your armor has to be different in MMA. You prepare for damage and your durability has to be locked in. You may not have the same gas tank as a triathlete, but your ability to overcome circumstances for ends Survival is a whole different level of cardio when a guy is trying to choke you against me trying to run that really hard mile.

Paul Felder during a triathlon
(Photo: FinisherPix)

During fights, Felder only ran three days a week, which was supplemented by three days of sparring and grappling training. Today, a typical day might see him focusing on his run, followed the next day by a visit to the pool and, of course, cycling to work. None of this includes punching, kicking, or choking.

And although swimming was an early issue, once he hit the Ironman 70.3 course in Virginia in June he was a natural, finishing in 5:27:26, good enough for 135e overall and 23rd in his age group. He has continued to improve in each of the four 70.3s he has raced since, and he hopes to do PR in Atlantic City this month.

“I want to do 29 to 32 minutes of swimming, about two hours of cycling, maybe 2:05. And I have to hit at least 1:28 for the run,” said Felder, who is coached by David Tilbury-Davis, who is also the former coach of Felder’s inspiration and training buddy Lionel Sanders, with which he raced at May’s PTO Pro AM. . “I ran this race last year and it’s still one of my ‘A’ races because it’s tight, it’s flat, it’s in Atlantic City, I fought there so much times, and it’s easy for me to go in and do it My PR is 4:42 for a half so I really wish I had less than 4:30 for AC And if I want to get closer to the five first ones I’ll probably have to do it even closer to 4:12 to 4:15 which might be a little pushed but damn If you don’t have a crazy goal why am I doing this thing ? “

Paul FelderLionel Sanders
Paul Felder (center) poses with relay team members Haven Shepherd (R) and Lionel Sanders (L) at the May PTO Pro AM in Los Angeles. (Photo: Donald Miralle/Challenged Athletes Foundation)

Sounds like Paul Felder the fighter, not just Paul Felder the triathlete. And that is precisely the point.

“I love that feeling of overcoming things and I’ve always preached that,” he said. “As a fighter, sometimes you have to dig your feet into the ground and go for it. And that’s how I am with this sport. If I stop, everything I’ve talked about is just BS. Sometimes it’s really scary and it really sucks, but you have to persevere.

Title Card: MMA Vs. Tri – A Look at Felder’s Workout

A week in the life of Paul Felder, MMA fighter turned triathlete

“Monday, Wednesday and Friday at [MMA] camp, I would do a very specific lifting program with my coach – a lot of Olympic lifts combined with explosive lifts,” Felder said. “From straight deadlifts to box jumps or wide jumps.

“On Fridays, we would do a circuit emphasizing high intensity levels – 30 seconds, minute bursts of ball slams, farmer carries, sprints and lots of sled pushes. Sometimes we also mix pad work with these workouts.

“On Tuesdays, Thursdays and weekends, I swam or ran. On Saturday I was doing a hard treadmill sprint interval with lots of uphill work. All of our MMA work would be mixed into that.

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Monday Lift in the morning (on an empty stomach), eat afterwards
90 mins of hard kickboxing drills followed by 5 x 5 mins of full contact MMA sparring
90 min of bag/pad work at night
Tuesday Fasted five mile run in the morning
Team MMA grappling – 90 mins of drills followed by 5 x 5 mins of hard grappling with MMA gloves
90min of pad/bag work at night
Wednesday Lift
90 min of MMA fighting with small gloves (four ounces)
pads at night
Thursday Five mile fasting run
MMA grappling like tuesday
Pads at night, or even more grappling
Friday Circuit and sprint work (fasted)
90 minutes of wrestling practice
Pads at night, includes jump rope and shadowboxing
Saturday Sleep a little
10 rounds of Jiu-Jitsu in the gi, or rounds of kickboxing
Swimming or treadmill sprints
Sunday Run, swim or rest
Sometimes a 24-hour fast to ease the weight

Paul Felder Triathlon Workout

“My favorite workouts with triathlon have to be the longer brick workouts,” Felder said. “I like my days where I have a really long bike workout followed by a short run at a tough race pace. I also like open water swimming. I train between 10 and 20 hours for 70.3 races, usually 15 hours. But with my travels, sometimes it diminishes.

MMA fighter Paul Felder rides a bike in a triathlon
(Photo: FinisherPix)

Sample – August 14 training

“My workout was a 20 minute warm up, I ran it relatively easily between 8:00 and 8:15 min/mile, then it was a mile over the cut off so pretty much everything, and I ran this at 6: 02,” Felder said. “And then I had to do a mile five times, so five miles with a one-minute break between each. I had to do all of this at race pace, which was 6:30 to 6:40 for halftime. And then I had to do another mile over the threshold faster than that first threshold mile, and that’s when I got 5:51.

“Triathlon training is absolutely brutal, but I can get over it and come back to it. I ran those paces yesterday, and today I swam 3,500 meters at swimming threshold paces, so I was doing 300 meter sets, then ran six easy miles around the neighborhood and that was 7:55 a.m., heart rate 140.”

So, what could be more difficult: MMA combat or triathlon?

“(During an MMA training camp) I was only running three days a week, but I was training three times a week,” Felder said. “And every one of those workouts, the next day you’re like, ‘Oh my God,’ but you have to get up and then you have to go tackle. Muscularly, I’d say MMA crushed you, but when it comes to sometimes digging deep mentally and pushing your lungs to the limit, I say triathlon takes it. When you run 13.1 miles and try to do it about 1:30 below, you’re cooking. 13.1 miles is a long time to run after a bike ride and a swim to try and run at a pace of six to seven minutes. And the pros do it at a 5:30 pace. They sprint, sometimes uphill, on these courses.

RELATED: The pros and cons of fasted workouts


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