Courtney Conlogue's rise to the Top 5 on the ASP Women's World Championship Tour (WCT) is not by chance. Her success is not derived from pure talent alone. Conlogue has risen to the pinnacle of surfing's elite by an unmatched work ethic. The Californian's Spartan training regime combined with countless hours both in the water and in the gym have transformed the young athlete into one of the most successful surfers of her generation.
The natural-footer joined the elite ranks in 2011 as a relatively unknown name on the international stage, but attacked her heats without reservation from early on.
With three years on tour entering 2014, Conlogue will carry the momentum from a 2013 campaign that placed her name in to the World Title mix for the first time, making her the first American to legitimately contest for the prestigious crown since Lisa Andersen.
While the Roxy Pro is just weeks from commencement, Conlogue has been training with devout focus for months on end, working on all aspects of surf fitness including breath holding techniques, strength, endurance and diet.
We've seen you training on holding your breath. How did you get involved with that? What's the payoff?
A mutual friend introduced me to Stig, the founder of Breathology. Stig holds many world records in breath holds and is known as â€œThe man who doesn't breathe.â€ There are many benefits to breathing properly whether it's to handle a hold down or to maintain and remain calm in high stress situations. Proper breathing can enable your body to also maintain peak performance during long periods of time.
You're active on social media with images of your crossfit workouts, etc. What does your training consist of specifically and how has it directly translated to your performance in the water?
I really enjoy working in the gym. My cross-training has many components because I enjoy changing things up all the time. I don't like things to be stagnant. I work with a trainer who appreciates and works towards personalizing my programs. There's a lot of balance training, core development, strength with weights, yoga, stretching, and a lot of other crazy fun things. Training for me is something I do to have a healthy in tune body, prevent injury, and increase endurance, and just have fun! As long as my body is fit I think it will be easier for it to go where my mind wants to take it.
Could you give a breakdown on what a week consists of for you? What's your day-to-day schedule and how do you incorporate surfing and training? Do you have a strict schedule?
I have a schedule that is flexible and totally swell forecast dependent. It also depends on whether I'm home or traveling on the tour. There's more routine and scheduling when I'm home. When I'm on the road I meet up with friends, get into the gyms, and re-create what I do at home. When there's swell I'll always be in the water at several points in a day. I typically get to the gym three-to-five times a week. I incorporate getting to the golf range, painting, drawing, and other hobbies because that's a part of my mental health and training too.
You've been climbing up the Top 5 rankings over the last few years. Do you feel like your physical fitness combined with your experience will help propel you to a World Title run?
Yes! I got closer last year and I think every year the experiences define me. I've gained a lot on tour and it's helping me improve with my decision-making, maturity, and my fitness programs. I just keep building and I keep working towards improvement.
With diet being such a crucial complement to a training program, what do you focus on for food? Is diet also something you focus on to help you perform your best?
As with my physical cross training, I've worked on my nutrition a lot. I'm continually reading books on the subject, talking to staff at my local health food stores, and just listening to my own body. What I do for me will be different from the next person. I stay away from processed foods as much as possible, buy organic, and enjoy a lot of fruits and veggies. I'm not a vegan and love eating meat, chicken and seafood. I love sushi and poki! I snack on mixes of nuts and dried fruits. When I'm on the run I have different protein or carb bars, a vegan protein drink, and lots of liquids. I make sure I stay hydrated all the time.
With the Roxy Pro beginning on March 1, will you change your training regimen so you'll be at your peak for the first event and not feeling beat up or tired from all of the hard work?
The way I'm working out right now, I'm still building up and trying to get to my peak. I'm still challenging my body and pushing to get stronger and working on strengthening. Once the contest starts, I'll focus more on maintenance. A week before the contest, I won't be trying to make myself sore. You do your breaking down in the preseason, but I'll be working on flexibility leading up to the event.
Especially training at Snapper, there is a lot of paddling and you don't want to feel worn down entering the event. You don't want to feel that strain. I'll definitely pull back a bit on upper body stuff, but will focus on TRX bands and light-to-no weight workouts. I'll move to more stability rather than power workouts.
The Australian leg is long, with three events, what does your training look like when you have multiple events? Is it hard to stay in peak fitness when you're on the road? How do you train during the season?
I'd say my first year was an acclimation year. I was caught off guard with how to adjust my fitness regimen to suit what I needed to accomplish. Being an athlete, you always want to be giving as much time to your profession as you can. For me, it's surfing, so I don't want to be spending my whole day in the gym.
You want to spend a lot of time in the water figuring out waves, figuring out your equipment and improving. When I'm at an event, I'm focusing on my equipment, the waves and how I'm feeling. I tune my workout to how everything's feeling between what my confidence is, if I had a shocker, what I was feeling needed help.
My workouts also change depending on location. If I'm at Snapper, I feel like I need to work on speed and endurance, but then when I'm getting ready for Margaret River, you need to be solid because there is a lot of wind and usually you need to be strong to duckdive because there is a lot of swell. Guys have crazy upper body strength, but I'm shoving and grinding my board down. I adjust to build my upper body strength to build the power that's demanded for Margaret's. With the one-month gap between events, I'll adjust my workouts to get ready for Margaret's and Bells since they're similar.
The events can be hectic. Do you usually focus on your surfing when you're at events and put as much time in the water as you can?
I've always been someone who is in the water all day. I love putting as much time in the water as I can. I've actually had to learn how to manage my time in the water so I don't drain myself, especially when I'm somewhere warm and I can trunk it all day. I feel like water time is crucial in being a successful surfer. I'll even body surf to get used to the currents and the lineup. If I know a heat is coming up, I won't try and drain myself in the gym. I'll be at the beach in my element. Especially with traveling being so draining, once I'm at an event I'm just maintaining and stretching.
When it comes down to a heat, what is your routine?
Pre-heat, you'll usually see me with a jump rope. I love skipping before a heat and it's been a routine I've had for years, since before I got on tour. Skipping always gets me in that zone. It's kind of hypnotizing for me. I'll also do some light, dynamic stretches. I never do static stretches before a heat. That's for later on because it gets me too relaxed. I want to get myself explosive. I really mold my warmup depending on how I'm feeling.
View Conlogue's recent guide to fitness with Coast Magazine
For more on Conlogue check out her full photo gallery.
Watch Conlogue compete at the season opening Roxy Pro Gold Coast from March 1-12, 2014.