This article was created in collaboration with MitoQ.
Triathlons require an immense amount of time, effort, and dedication. It may therefore seem strange to hear someone say they are "an accidental triathlete". But this is how Max Fennell's heroes journey goes. He turned a mistake into a blessing when he sprained his MCL in 2011, two weeks before the start of friendly matches for a semi-professional soccer team. For everyone it is impractical at best, but for a serious athlete it is a career end at worst.
Unsure of his next step, Fennell met Brian Sullivan while working in a coffee shop. He encouraged Fennell to take part in a local tri, now known as Tri Rock Philadelphia, and loaned him his old Elite Bicycles tri bike. Fennell finished in 7th place and Sullivan became his mentor, putting him on the podium in four of his six races, one of which was an age group win, in his first season.
In 2014, Fennell's fourth season, he qualified for his professional card and became the first black professional triathlete. Since then, he's been working to diversify the bike community and find new ways to improve. We proposed a unique challenge to Fennell by teaming up with MitoQ, a revolutionary supplement company, to see if it could help Fennell climb its own plateaus.
What is MitoQ and how can it help athletes improve their fitness?
MitoQ is an improved form of an antioxidant called CoQ10. The researchers knew that CoQ10 had the potential to aid mitochondria (you may remember the biology, they are the powerhouses responsible for producing energy in cells), but regular soups haven't brought significant benefits to humans. MitoQ scientists made the CoQ10 molecules smaller to penetrate the mitochondrial wall and gave them a positive charge to naturally attract the negatively charged mitochondria.
As a result, MitoQ supps are up to 1,000 times more effective at getting into mitochondria where it's needed most than regular CoQ10. It was also checked. There are over 400 published, independent, peer-reviewed articles announcing the benefits, as well as an independent research and development investment of $ 60 million. Curious how it's applied in the real world? Here is how.
Max Fennell's 4-Week MitoQ Challenge: Mastering the Old La Honda
Fennell's journey takes him to the Portola Valley in San Mateo County, CA. More precisely, to a climb called Old La Honda.
"Old La Honda is an insane ordeal - relentlessly uphill all the time," says Fennell. "It's a world-famous 3 mile climb with an 8 percent incline. If you can put a solid amount of time on it, you're a legitimate, strong rider."
A solid time for Fennell to measure less than 20 minutes, with the goal of 19 minutes at the end of his four week development with MitoQ. If he hits that threshold with a relatively good heart rate, he knows that his basic fitness for February races is really good. A good time is also a good barometer of where he stands among other top athletes.
Pain is guaranteed with an climb of this caliber, but as Fennell puts it, "You can hurt really well or really badly." By supplementing with an antioxidant like MitoQ, Fennell is hoping he can experience the former, not the latter.
It can hurt really well or really badly.
To prepare, Fennell leaned on cross-training: kettlebell and TRX strength training helped make his body bulletproof by training the smaller stabilizing muscles to keep him calm and strong in the saddle. Additional endurance work included running and swimming to improve his cardiovascular capacity in a varied approach.
Cross-training, says Fennell, gives you the confidence to achieve anything. It limits weaknesses, imbalances, and the risk of injury, and keeps your mental sharpness up to date. This is especially prudent for an athlete diagnosed with ADHD at a young age. Of course, he supplemented MitoQ every day and took two capsules with water 30 minutes before breakfast.
“What I noticed most after a few weeks of taking MitoQ is a significant recovery. My energy stores return much faster, so I wake up in the morning rested and ready to go,” says Fennell.
Take a closer look at Fennell's workout and see how he fared with the tight switchbacks, ever-changing incline, and twisted nature of Old La Honda in the video above.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Subscribe to YouTube for access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more!