Assistant Professor of Exercise Science Chris Harnish, Ph.D., finished fifth overall and earned the men’s 40-44 title in the USA Off-Road Triathlon National Championships held in June, in Waco, Texas. Battling 95-degree heat and humidity, and a course that featured an 1800-meter swim, a 32-kilometer mountain biking section and a 10-kilometer trail run, Dr. Harnish posted a finish time of 3:13:24.
The top finishers in each age group qualify to represent Team USA at the 2019 International Triathlon Union (ITU) Age Group Off-Road/Cross Triathlon World Championships from April 27 to May 4, in Pontevedra, Spain. Team USA comprises the top age-group athletes who qualify to represent their country at the ITU World Championships.
Harnish, a lifelong endurance athlete, directly applies much of the science discussed in Shenandoah’s exercise science courses to his own training and racing. As he notes, “Our field is unique in that pretty much everything we do can be and is used to improve health or athletic performance. In fact, the less time you have to train, the more important careful planning and execution is!”
To that end, Harnish blends his own coaching experience with the latest science on biomechanics, exercise training and sports nutrition to optimize his performance, and even works with technical sponsors to develop better products. “I’ve been fortunate to work with awesome sponsors who are interested in the science. Everything we do applies to clothing, eyewear, wetsuits, and especially nutrition.” He went on to explain how he applies this to race-day nutrition. “I knew Waco would be really hot. I also expected a very challenging race course that would make taking in food and drink challenging, so I had everything planned out to the gram for the best-case scenario two months before the event, and I did test runs during training and racing. You just don’t leave things to chance when you don’t have to.”
Athletics led Harnish to his chosen field. “I went to college to learn how to be a better athlete. Along the way, I learned how to be a better student, and I stuck with exercise science because it’s such a cool field of study. This is a degree that can be applied in so many different ways. You can create your own job, or you can just keep learning!”
In addition to his racing and teaching duties, Harnish co-hosts the 1 More Mile Podcast, which, not surprisingly, discusses health, fitness and nutrition.
Featured photo by TX Sports Photography, Samuel I. Beard, Jr.