If and when (think positive people!) you qualify for Kona the first time, you will not be alone if you suffer from a case of imposter syndrome. Some of us do this routine quietly. Others of us will tell fellow triathletes how they don’t really belong because of (insert disqualifier for qualifier here).
After the 2012 season, I wanted to prove to myself that I wasn’t a fluke.
Looking for a simple way to understand your fatigue curve to spot areas of weaknesses and opportunities for improvement? Coach Alan Couzens has developed a calculator to do it for you.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Experience is everything.” I’ve been hearing it from others as far back as Wildflower Long Course in 1998, my first year racing as a professional. I was 10th that year, Heather Fuhr had won and I was standing up on the stage next to Wendy Ingraham and a lot of other big names in the sport just smiling and being sort of amazed and overwhelmed thinking, “How am I going to get faster?” I said something to Wendy and she leaned over to me and said, “Gina, you're going to do great in the sport, just wait; experience is everything.”
At that time I thought “Wait, I want to be better now... Experience… what is she talking about?” But here I am 25 years later and am amazed at what years of experience can do.
In addition to my role as Endurance Corner’s content editor and site manager, my “regular” job is as a Registered Nurse on a busy transplant unit at a hospital in south Texas.
For anyone out there trying to balance endurance sport with long, stressful days and a potentially inconsistent schedule, I want to assure you that it can be done. Here is what I have learned.
Most athletes are at the end of their seasons and many are thinking about how they can break through in 2014. Now is the time of year where we often hear conversations about:
- Race distance focus
While these discussions can be interesting, I find them to be a distraction for most athletes seeking a breakthrough.
What really matters?
It’s that time of year again: most of you will have completed your “A” race for the season and will be left with a bunch of resulting powerful thoughts and emotions. Now is the time to use those thoughts and emotions to full effect by refining your training plan for 2014.
“Seems like everything I like will make me sick or poor or fat”
Leave it to David Lee Roth to get it right (at least when he remembers the lyrics). How come that logic is so true? I mean, really, sometime you just want to sit on the couch and drink Jack Daniels while buying Zipp wheels online and eating pizza… yes, sick, poor and fat. Bang! I guess we need to control ourselves.
So, being a triathlete is about control then?
As the season comes to a close, many of you will be assessing whether or not it was a successful one. Regardless of the amount of success, it is helpful to look back on the season to see where you can make improvements. This is where an athlete and coach really benefit from a well-kept training journal. The more details you give in your journals throughout the year, the easier it is to take an objective look at your season and to give context (for example, how you felt) to the training you did.
With so many races to choose from and the example set by professionals racing more often, many age group athletes are also trying out the approach of racing more frequently in long course triathlon.
If you're considering stringing together more races next season, I'll offer a few thoughts for you to consider before choosing events.
It is that time of year. Weather is changing, holidays are starting and a new year is less than two months away. The triathlon season is all but wrapped up and with that comes the lull that follows hyperfocus for an extended period of time. Some people refer to it as the Ironman blues since Ironman is the distance that requires such an intense focus for 12 to 20 weeks. In reality anyone can experience the let down that follows a major build up and peak for a major event.
Scott Molina and I have a joke that we say to each other, usually before we do something silly... "We know more now." It goes like this...
"I live in Central Florida and have signed up for a mountainous Ironman next August."
"I live in Upstate New Your and have signed up for my first Ironman next February."
By the way, if you happen to fit the above, then I'm not teasing you. Scott and I are making fun of the fact that we all dream up insane ideas that seem good at the time (normally six to ten months out from the event date).
Triathlon is tough enough, even when you do it right.
A few months ago, I wrote an article about overcoming a bad race at ITU Long Course Worlds. During the race, I reflected on one of my earlier sports mentors, who taught me the importance of perseverance and maintaining your confidence.
History and reflection are how we learn and move forward to bigger and better things. Keep record of patterns, habits and thoughts to look back on as you progress through each season so you can learn what works and what needs improvement.
I've had several athletes qualify for a world championships every year for over five years now, across Ironman, 70.3 and duathlon. While some of the details of their training have been different, they all share common traits in their approach to achieving qualification.
“Go fast when the race is slow”
Once you’ve demonstrated a deep understanding of my Principles of Pace, the next step in your development is considering how and where to apply additional effort into your event.
I’m going to share a case study that will help illustrate strategic hammering!
In my last article in our How to Qualify series I looked at how some typical benchmark workouts may progress across the course of the qualifying year for an athlete who is on track for a Kona slot. In this piece, we’re going to dive into these benchmarks in a little more depth to look at some of the implications of being strong in some benchmarks while struggling to hit others.
I’ll address such questions as:
During late spring and early summer, I typically share unconventional tips with my most successful athletes:
Consider your season over.
Qualifying for Kona requires a lot of work and, even if you have all day to train, smart overload is an effective way to get better.
Athletes can waste a lot of energy worrying about the structure of their training plan. Prove that you can do the work before you worry about the structure.
Over the last few articles, we’ve been hitting you over the head with how little you know about pacing. Our goal was to instill humility, rather than beat you down!
While you might not know Kona-specific race pace, I’m going to share how fast feels. Cultivate these feelings during the Core Block workouts.
In my Plan for the "Realist" article, I wrote about some of the general levels of fitness that I typically encounter among athletes who qualify. Many of these measures of fitness are a little abstract, especially for those not super familiar with WKO+ or my own method of performance modeling: CTL, VO2 score, etc.
In this piece I want to bring some of those numbers down to a rubber meets the road perspective so that we can begin to answer the most basic of questions -- what sort of training sets/sessions should an athlete be able to accomplish to indicate they are in Kona shape?
I thought that I’d share how I build a power-based race simulation rides for ironman. It’s not particularly complex (at least to me). The “art” comes from interpreting the fatigue that the athlete will carry into the marathon and not screwing up the run with an inappropriate bike-power strategy.
The main difference between training to qualify and training to compete is the workload of the key days and the spacing of the key workouts.
Mid-pack athletes might train themselves to ultimately complete the ironman distance across four to six days.
Aspiring Kona-qualifiers should build their programs so that they can complete the ironman distance across 30 hours and have the bulk of their training time done at or over specific race pace and power.
Before we get into the specific workouts that I use to prepare an athlete for Kona qualification, let’s review the nature of the event:
Let’s look at the above in more depth and consider what is implied for you.
Last week I talked about the different improvement curves that I’ve observed for different types of athletes. I identified three basic athlete types: the natural, the realist and the worker.
As part of our new “How to Qualify for Kona” section that recently kicked off, I’m going to put some of those observations into the context of what it means to different types of athletes looking to qualify for Kona.
Following on from my last installment that covered Your Basic Week, I wanted to get into detail with practical examples of the specific work that is required to get you to Kona.
Before we get stuck into the detail, how are you doing with creating a life structure of a Kona Qualifier?
I ask because your best competition have finished their seasons, completed their rejuvenation blocks and are dropping back into a proven routine.
To be successful you need to create the space to follow a path that others find too difficult.
The Ironman World Championship… I love the race, I love the venue. I have been blessed to have competed in that race 10 times. I feel like I know the race and the venue as if I have been there my whole life. It so ingrained in me that when I take a GU while riding or running I literally feel myself on the Queen Kamehameha Highway. In an instant, I can picture the lava fields, I can see the flowering bushes blowing in the wind. When I hear a helicopter overhead I get a rush over me and can instantly feel the energy of the swim start. As clear as day, I can see the pier to my right, the hotels to my left and even the rocks and the way they are lined up as I swim out to the start line. If I was an artist I could probably paint the entire sea floor of the swim course.
Following on from my first piece on about setting up your life structure to qualify for Kona, AC wrote a great piece on the physiological and training load requirements to position yourself to qualify.
In this article, I’m going to step back from the technical detail and dig a little deeper into my statement that you’re looking at four hours per day, most days, of time commitment.
If you haven’t qualified for Kona then you may have run the numbers on that statement and inferred that I’m talking about a 28-hour training week. That is not the case.
In 2011, I aged up to the women's 45-49 year old age group. My family and my support team decided 2012 was the year to push for a slot. It required some serious commitment in planning, time, equipment and finances. I didn't write down my qualification plan but it was structured much like a business plan.