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On October 14 the most elite endurance athletes in the world will once again face the humbling challenge that is the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona.

While finish times have plummeted at iron-distance races around the world, with many of the top male athletes going well under the eight-hour mark, the course and conditions at Kona are so uniquely challenging that those same athletes often struggle to match or even come close to their top performances.

Kona is a race for the tacticians. Knowing the environment and how to adapt your strategy and effort levels accordingly can be the difference in a podium performance and blowing up on the run.

In this year’s historic race there are two athletes, Jan Frodeno and Daniela Ryf, who are both going for threepeats.

Ryf has soundly dominated the competition, especially last year where she set the female course record, whereas Frodeno has played a much more tactical game, wearing his competition down at the most opportune spots to gain his advantage.


Although the swim is the shortest portion of an IRONMAN event, at Kona it holds a huge importance. If you miss the first couple of packs and are stuck coming out of the water solo the athlete’s engine size won’t matter. Pro Lionel Sanders discovered this in his first two trips to the Big Island.

With the non-wetsuit swim, the big advantage goes to the naturally strong swimmers, who in recent years have been content to get out of the water and ride relatively easily, waiting for a bigger group to form on the early section of the bike.

There are several tactical reasons for this that we will touch on in the next section, but as Ben Kanute showed at the 70.3 World Championship in Chattanooga, with a stellar swim/bike performance athletes can always throw new variables into the mix.

In the men’s race, look for first-time Kona pro Josh Amberger to push the pace on the swim and work hard on the bike to gap any athletes content to go easy early. In the women’s race, swim standouts Lauren Brandon, Lucy Charles, Rachel Joyce and Haley Chura will all be in the mix at the front.


The Kona bike course is brutal. Most people point out the climb to Hawi, but this only accounts for a little over 500 feet of the roughly 5,000 feet of climbing on the course. Plenty of other courses have similar climbing but much faster times so what else makes Kona such a challenge?

One obvious factor is the heat and humidity. Studying athletes’ power levels at Kona versus their other races in more temperate climates show a significant difference. For the top athletes this is often deliberate as burning matches on the bike will come back to haunt them on the run.

It is not uncommon to see athletes lower their power by up to 10 percent in Kona versus other races. So top male podium athletes who are typically around 295-300+ watts for an typical IRONMAN will often race at 260-270 in Kona. How they strategically use those watts can be even more important based on the next biggest factor on the bike, the prevailing wind conditions.

When Best Bike Split first traveled to Kona as part of the TrainingPeaks family we knew that Kona was one of the hardest races to accurately model. Once we experienced the race in person we immediately understood why; the island is unique in that the prevailing wind conditions are never in the athlete’s favor.

Best Bike Split’s Advanced Weather Chart


Early morning winds tend to originate from the interior of the island and as the athletes travel up the coast the wind starts to shift going from a more sheltered low headwind to a stronger more exposed headwind up to the turnaround at Hawi.

Once athletes make the turn to head back into town, the wind is coming off the coast and is much stronger (the famous crosswinds). For the final section of the course the winds shift even more to the south and often increase intensity, so athletes face additional headwind back to transition.

This shift tends to increase in intensity throughout the day, so age groupers often face harsher conditions than the pros. Essentially athletes face a head or crosswind for the vast majority of the course, which adds to the difficulty and shape the racing tactics employed by the pros over the past several years.


To win in Kona everything must be firing on all cylinders going into the run, even in Craig Alexander’s record breaking performance in 2011 there were times on the run where it looked like things could fall apart at any second.

If the bike is brutal, the run in Kona is truly humbling. Many athletes have ridden their typical power levels on the bike only to have to walk or even call it a day on the run. Burning too much energy early in the run and on the climb up Palani Road to the Queen K Highway will be costly in the scorching stretch down and back through the Energy Lab.

The run is completely exposed, so athletes who have not trained, adapted and accounted for the conditions could suffer throughout the run. Many top athletes have already been training in similar conditions in preparation, most notably Daniela Ryf traveling to Maui to train immediately after Chattanooga and Patrick Lange (last year’s third place finisher and run course record holder) spending his time training in Houston, Texas.

Women’s Race

Much like we said in Chattanooga, it’s hard to see anyone who can come close to touching Ryf. Watching her drop girls like they were standing still on the climb up Lookout Mountain left no doubt about her ability to just overpower every other competitor out there.

She typically has a strong swim, but even if her swim is suffering, with ideal pacing she could put 15+ minutes on most of the field on the bike course. Barring some physical or mechanical issues (which can and hav happened many times during this race’s history), it’s hard to see her competing against anything but her own record from last year, which will depend heavily on the conditions on the day.

The race for second place is where the real action will take place in the women’s race. Heather Jackson is looking for a step up the podium this year after her third place finish in 2016. She has worked hard on her swim and marathon with her coach Joe Gambles to fine tune her relatively weaker areas. If she strings together a better swim into her historically strong bike, she could be much closer to Ryf coming off the bike than in year’s past.

Rachel Joyce is back at Kona this year and podiumed every year from 2013-2015. She often comes out of the water with Ryf, so if she can manage to hold on for a portion of the bike she could get some significant gaps on the field, and most importantly, Jackson. However, Joyce has raced a lot to qualify this year, so it will be interesting to see how she bounces back after two full IRONMAN distance races already this year.

German Anja Beranek, who finished just off the podium last year, is an incredibly strong cyclist, and was able to stick with Ryf for a large section of the bike in 2016, but ultimately fell off the pace coming into transition, trailing Ryf by some eight minutes.

Her early efforts on the bike might have cost her as she faded throughout the run to finish fourth. Now that she has one IRONMAN Hawaii under her belt, we expect to see a more even strategy on the bike, putting her in a better position to try to hold off athletes chasing from behind through the end of the marathon.

This year she will likely face stiffer competition from the likes of Sarah Crowely and Lucy Charles, who took the top two spots at the IRONMAN European Championship in Frankfurt earlier this year.

Sarah Crowley is coming off an outstanding season where she won IRONMAN Cairns, Frankfurt, and the ITU Long Course World Championship in Penticton. She is a great all-around triathlete with no obvious weakness. Crowley has come a long way since her 15th place debut performance in Kona last year, but the fast Aussie will once again be tested by the island conditions, and after two full IRONMAN races and a ITU long course race, it will be interesting to see how she holds up later in the race.

In just her second year as a professional, Lucy Charles heads to Kona off a season that includes a major win and bike course record at IRONMAN Lanzarote and a second-place finish to Sarah Crowley at the IRONMAN European Championship—a notoriously stacked field.

Her outstanding swim strength should see her coming out of the water with Lauren Brandon well ahead of a lot of the competitors. With Lucy’s cycling ability she could hold off Ryf for a large portion of the course and stay close to Jackson. If there is one area of relative weakness with Lucy it’s her run, but if she can bike within her means she could see herself in second or third heading into T2.

Other notable athletes who have a good shot at the podium include the perennial top Kona athlete Michelle Vesterby, Sarah Piampiano if she can string together a great day, and Kaisa Sali—who was fifth in Kona last year, but has changed coaches and strategies this year with Siri Lindley.

Men’s Race

This years men’s race has so many dynamics that could play out throughout the race. Jan Frodeno is going for his third straight world championship title. Two years removed from the top spot, Sebastian Kienle has faced challenges with his typical hard bike and strong run strategy.

In the last few years competitors who have focused heavily on bike aerodynamics and tactical yet legal spaced riding have fared far better. This year Ben Hoffman entered the ranks of sub-8 IRONMAN status with an incredible performance at IRONMAN South Africa.

Patrick Lange, who to set a blistering run course record last year, has the swim and bike chops (barring a penalty) to really pressure for a top spot. There is also the powerhouse Lionel Sanders, who has been focusing heavily on his swim training, as well as training in what can only be described as a sauna in order to acclimate for the heat and humidity of the race.

Unlike the women’s race, where there is a clear-cut favorite, the men’s race is a bit more open. Frodeno is still the defending two-time champ and is the favorite, but he is also potentially beatable.

The past two years have set up very similarly where stronger swimmers including Frodeno, Hoffman, Brent McMahon, and Tim O’Donnell (just to name a few) have formed an early pack on the bike on the way to Hawi. While the spacing between riders in the pack is usually the legal 12 meters, there is no real incentive for athletes to push hard to the front to face a majority uphill and increasing head wind.

In 2015 we saw Ben Hoffman charge to the front for a hard effort, trying to break the pack toward the base of the climb, only to have the group easily cover and pull him back in. It’s hard to tell how much impact this effort had, but the surge used much needed matches and had virtually no impact on the field.

Strategically the big moves have tended to come after the turnaround as the prevailing winds shift into a crosswind, where the pack loses any potential advantage. Athletes like Kienle and Sanders need to be close enough out of the swim to bridge the gap before this point if they hope to get any major gaps on the field back into T2.

To put it in perspective using data from some top lead swim group athletes from last year, Kienle or Sanders would need to push upward of 30 more watts to bridge a four-minute gap by the turnaround point.

At this year’s IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship Kienle managed to close a four minute gap to Javier Gomez and Tim Don at around 54 miles into the race, but once he made the pass they were not content to let him pull away and the total effort cost him on the run.

With the increased emphasis on aerodynamics efficiency across the sport it will be hard for Kienle to repeat his dominating bike performance from 2014, where he gained 10+ minutes on many of the favorites.

The new wrinkle though could be Sanders’ swim progression, which he hopes to will allow him to shadow and exit the water near Kienle. At IRONMAN 70.3 St. George the two high powered cyclists motivated each other through the pack trying to catch Alistair Brownlee.

If they can repeat something similar at Kona the dynamics of the race will changes considerably in the back half of the course. If, however, the two previous years are any indication, most of the contenders will be content to keep contact and the bike gaps will remain small enough to let the race play out on the run.

Frodeno was the strongest all around athlete by far last year. The data from 2015 shows that he took the bike very easy and 2016 appeared no different. This year I suspect he will be tested a little more by an athlete like Ben Hoffman on the back half.

Additionally, if Patrick Lange is lurking, Frodo might push the bike effort himself more this year to have bigger gap for the run. We also expect to see Josh Amberger do what he does best with a great swim followed up by pushing the bike hard in his Kona debut.

We don’t expect him to maintain the pace like Ben Kanute at the 70.3 Worlds, but it throws a new dynamic into the mix with a strong swim/bike athlete that the race hasn’t seen in several years.

If Amberger can work with former pro cyclist Cameron Wurf on the last quarter of the bike, they could maintain a lead into T1— though neither has ever experienced a run like Kona.

Other front pack swim athletes (maybe even Frodeno) could be encouraged to go with Amberger if the opportunity is there to put extra gaps between themselves and a Sanders/Kienle duo.

We hesitate to even try to predict a top-three overall, but with all of the pre-race dynamics it is shaping up to be another historic year at the IRONMAN World Championship.

As always, we love to do power predictions for the pros, which we encourage you to check out, and even do a demo of the course for yourself.

These predictions are based on past performances, weather conditions and publically available data. As always the data will be adjusted as weather forecasts change right up to race morning.

Got Big Island fever? We’ve got the cure. Check out our pre-race predictions, course tips, race-week interviews and post-race analysis from the 2017 IRONMAN World Championship right here.


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This year’s IRONMAN World Championship is upon us, and I’m eagering anticipating watching the race unfold. On Sunday there will be thousands of very happy, very sore athletes walking around Kona, and I wish each and every one of them a speedy recovery, and a hearty congratulations for their accomplishment.

This is the ideal time for me to answer a question that I’m frequently asked: What is the ideal IRONMAN recovery plan for the week after my race?

Or, the related question: How soon can I return to training?

Here’s my prescription for the vast majority of triathletes, regardless of their age, experience or speed. This program will work for any IRONMAN race.

If you raced on a Sunday:

Day 1. Monday.

Don’t lie down!

Get in the water and swim easy with kicking. Try kicking vertically also. Add in some breaststroke kicking because it moves your legs outside the transverse plane, which is the opposite of cycling and running. The breaststroke kick will stretch your hips, adductors and glutes and you’ll feel magical!
Flip on your back, put on some fins and do some easy backstroke to stretch your back. Swim for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Do not bike or run.

Day 2. Tuesday.

Keep swimming easily.
Get on your bike in your easy gear and spin at about 75 to 80 rpms (at a speed well below your aerobic pace). This will enhance your recovery.
When you’re finished cycling, get off your legs and try to keep your feet elevated above your heart.
Use compression socks if you have them.
You may find you’ll get more delayed onset muscle soreness on the second day after the race, and this is perfectly normal.

Day 3. Wednesday.

Swim and bike (easy) again.
I also have all of my athletes do some stretching. Get on the floor and stretch your quads, glutes, and back. Don’t overdo it and do any loaded stretched, and especially not calf stretches where you drop your heel off a step. Use a cord instead and stretch your Achilles and Soleus on the floor.
Keep it easy in these first few days. Stay mindful about how your body feels and don’t push yourself.

Day 4. Thursday.

Start running very gently, off-road or on a soft surface.
Again, keep it super easy by alternating walking a minute, running for a minute, and walking backward for a minute.
Avoid downhill running.
If your IRONMAN marathon time was four hours or faster, then it’s important to be very light on running for the first two weeks because of the eccentric load that you endured during the race.
You can also swim and bike again as well.

Day 5. Friday.

Easy bike; continue to keep it gentle.
Reintroduce easy strength training so that you can start firing your core, glutes and back.

I’m a huge fan of the Crossover Symmetry cords (go with the Novice level cords… the lightest resistance cords they offer); they’re ideal at this stage in your recovery.

Got Big Island fever? We’ve got the cure. Check out our race coverage, course tips, race-week interviews and post-race analysis from the 2017 IRONMAN World Championship right here.

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I have a confession to make: I don’t do any open water swim training and do not even like it that much either as a way to train (for me).

That being said, I should probably explain what I mean and what it means for you. Based on my experiences, open water swim training serves two key purposes when it comes to training:

Reduce or eliminate fear or anxiety. This is a big one. If swimming in open water makes you nervous, you need to go out and do it. By getting comfortable in open water it will make race day that much less intimidating and will allow you to focus on the things you can control, like your effort, technique sighting, etc.
Because you LOVE IT and it is FUN. This is #1 for me. If you love swimming in open water and it means you will actually go out and swim, then head right on down to the water and jump in. While demanding, sports are meant to be enjoyed, and if you love swimming in a lake or ocean—skip the pool. We have a few AP racing team athletes who train exclusively in open water because we know they wouldn’t swim if they had to hit the pool.


With that said, let’s assume you have a big race coming up, like the IRONMAN World Championship, but you don’t have access to open water or you’d rather not swim in an ocean every day before the big day. What should you do? Here are my top seven general rules about swimming and open water swimming that should serve you well:

1. You are a swimmer.

When you are in the pool, you are a swimmer. Period. That means you need to behave like one. This means knowing how to use a pace clock (no watches in the pool when I train), understanding what a base interval is, doing flip turns and how to swim a proper swim set. If you walk like a swimmer and talk like a duck, you are a duck—be a swimmer.

2. Don’t just swim.

Your workouts should be structured and include a warm up, pre-set (to prime your body), main set, drill set and cool down. It is critical to swim both aerobic and anaerobic types of swim sets (they are not mutually exclusive).

3. Warm Up. Warm up. Warm up.

When it comes to race day, make sure you get in at least 15 to 35 minutes of warm up in the water prior to the start. The colder the water is, the longer you need.

A lot of our athletes talk about shortness of breath during the first parts of a swim. This can be avoided by getting in a really solid warm up.

Prior to a race, I like to swim a warm up that is similar to my pool warm up. Something such as: 10 minutes slow build (effort), five to 10 minutes of stroke, kick and swim work, and then five to 10 minutes of 30 second to 1.5 minute efforts with easy swimming or floating in between. Use this time as a way to quiet your mind and focus it on the day ahead.

4. Build Your Effort.

This is a common piece of advice across disciplines in training and racing that we talk about a lot with our AP racing athletes: You want to build your effort throughout the day.

Think of your effort level as an elevator that is slowly rising up through each floor of a building. We are not shooting to the top but climbing up gradually. You will feel much stronger, less anxious and have a better day as you are going by all of the folks that started out too fast.

5. Use Buoys like Walls.

I like to use the buoys as a reminder to increase my speed/effort, focus on my stroke, check my hand position or whatever other cues you might need.

As you approach a buoy, give yourself something to focus on until the next buoy, it will keep your mind focused and help you stay engaged throughout the swim.

6. Sight less.

At the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon, folks are always asking me how often I sight and my answer surprises a lot of folks: “I don’t pick my head up for the first 10-15 minutes.”

Why should you sight less? Well, most of the courses are pretty straight forward, there are typically people, kayaks or bubbles to follow, and by sighting so much you could be taking yourself off-course more.

7. Wetsuit Swim. Soak your wetsuit.

If you have not worn your wetsuit in a while or you are wearing it for the first time, soak it in your tub or a bucket. By soaking your wetsuit, it allows water to get into the pores of the suit and actually helps loosen it up a bit. It’ll be that much more comfortable when you put it on.

Now that we laid some of the basic groundwork and you are at race week, here is a sample race week swim program and how we could adapt it for open water swim training if you do not have access to a pool. This training weeks assumes this is your “A” race and that you will not be “training through” the event.

Main Goals for the Week:

Stay fresh and don’t get stale.
Rev your engine all week.
Be comfortable in the water and ready for race day.

Now, get out there and jump right in!

Click below to view Andy’s Race Week Swim Plan.


Got Big Island fever? We’ve got the cure. Check out our pre-race predictions, course tips, race-week interviews and post-race analysis from the 2017 IRONMAN World Championship right here.

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As endurance athletes we often become caught up in the latest and greatest workout, technique or training tool to get an edge while missing simple routines that enhance our recovery and enable us to quickly and more nimbly train again.

As a coach and massage therapist, I encourage athletes to befriend the foam roller after hard workouts, races or even after lots of sitting from travel or work.

The goals of foam rolling are simple: increase blood flow and increase range of motion.

Why Should You Use a Foam Roller?

You might be saying to yourself, “I have a stretch routine that I do, why do I need to foam roll too?” Put simply, our skeletal system is made of bone and muscle working together so we can move. From a mechanical and structural standpoint, bones are levers and muscles are pulleys: When one pulley shortens, the opposite pulley lengthens.

For example, raising a post-run milkshake to your mouth shortens the bicep on the front of your arm (the front pulley) and in response the tricep (the back pulley) lengthens. Both pulleys act on the lever, in this case the lower arm bones.

And like any structure, something holds it all together, and that something in the human body is called connective tissue. Ligaments attach bones to each other, tendons attach muscles to bones, and a material called fascia surrounds our nerves, bones, organs and muscles all the way through our bodies to absorb shock and distribute force.

You can think of fascia like you would Saran Wrap: it can stick to itself and/or shrink down around its surroundings, limiting range of motion and decreasing blood flow.

Therefore, after many, many milkshakes, our bicep shortens even between drinks, the tricep lengthens, and the surrounding fascia shrinks around the tissue, restricting blood flow and range of motion in the process.

For most endurance sports, the muscles in the front of the body tend to shorten and the muscles on the back of the body get tight from stretching out. Anytime our hips flex or maintain a shortened position (bike position, over-striding with running, sitting, etc.), the opposing muscles pull tighter.

The constant lengthening often leads to painful and stubborn muscle tightness which over time manifests into chronically tight hamstrings, ITB syndrome, or an even bigger injury. While directly stretching those tight muscles might provide short-term relief, chances are the front of your hips need help.

The following two movements lengthen short muscles in the front, relieve tension in the back, and increase blood flow and mobility—all things that ultimately help you perform your best day after day for training and racing.

Step 1: Grab Your Foam Roller

While any foam roller will do, my favorite is the TriggerPoint Grid. It is small (13 inches, though they also have a long one and a mini) and hollow so it’s easily packable if you’re away from home. It also has soft foam with ridges that work muscles slightly differently than the solid foam rollers you might find.

Step 2: Roll the Quads

Our quads do a lot for us and get really tight. Aside from the overall fascial tightness that can lead to the imbalances mentioned above, tightness also contributes to knee alignment issues (and associated pain or discomfort), IT band pain, and other maladies. Rolling the quads helps address all of those by stretching harder to access fibers, thereby lengthening the tissue and opening up the area for more blood flow.

Step 3: Loosen the Hips

The easiest way to get the hips is to do one at a time. As you see, the roller is not used on the IT band itself. The IT band is like packing tape, not a muscle meant to stretch.

The Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL), however, is a hip flexor muscle that attaches to the IT band, so as it shortens it pulls on the IT band. As such, rolling the front of the hip is much more effective than rolling the lateral part of the femur itself, especially as you move down the leg.

Step 4: Let it All Sink In

Once you’ve spent a few minutes on each side doing both movements, spend a few minutes walking to integrate the changes into your body.

While foam rolling may be tough to get into the habit of doing, you should feel lighter, with more range of motion when you’re finished.

You might feel slight soreness the day after the work as your body adjusts, but it shouldn’t feel any more intense than what you would expect from a pleasantly hard workout.

If you feel pain or soreness for longer, adjust your rolling so less weight is on the roller itself. Happy rolling!

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The Kona Veteran: A Q&A With Pro Triathlete Andy Potts

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American pro triathlete and Olympian Andy Potts stakes his claim at the IRONMAN World Championship every year when he exits the water well ahead of the rest of the pack. The former University of Michigan All-American swimmer and 2007 70.3 world champion will toe the line of his seventh IRONMAN World Championship this year, but with two top-five Kona finishes, seven IRONMAN titles (and 27 IRONMAN 70.3 titles) to his name, Potts is always in the Big Island running.

We spoke with Potts during his final build for the 2017 IRONMAN World Championship to find out about his new cycling strategy, his longtime success with his coach, how he uses TrainingPeaks to dial-in his training, and the four things he believes any age-group athlete needs to focus on to succeed in triathlon.

When do you begin your Kona build each year and has that changed in any way heading into the 2017 race?

It really has been been different each year, as my race schedule has changed and I have dealt with injuries leading up to Kona a few years as well.

With that, I typically start in early/mid-August with a solid eight to 10-week block of training. I have tried a variety of things, from training up in the Colorado Rockies at high altitude to staying in Hawaii.

This year, I opted to stay home and put in solid training while also keeping my family life as balanced as possible.

Last year you made some changes to your run training, and this year you are riding outdoors, which is a huge change for you. What was the reasoning behind this and what have the results been?

I am always changing something and experimenting with both small and big changes to find improvements. I like to say that I am an “experiment of one” and this year, after talking with my coach and team, we decided that going outside was the right move.

It was as much mental as it was physical as it gave me something new to look forward to and new challenges. It really helped that I had a great training partner and friend, Daniel Brienza, who turned himself inside out each week to help me along while also keeping me entertained.

We started off our outdoor training by climbing everything we could find in an effort to build strength. Pikes Peak became a ritual, and I have seen my cycling and comfort improve dramatically as the year progressed.

How do you use TrainingPeaks to work with your coach? Do you mainly use it for communication or are you an athlete who pays attention to their CTL, training load, weight, sleep, HRV, etc. as well?

I am very fortunate that I see my coach, Mike Doane, everyday. He is truly the athlete whisperer as he can just look at me and know how I am doing and what needs to get done.

He likes to look at my eyes to see if I’m lying to him or not.  If I say, “Coach, I’m good. Let’s keep pushing,” he will read between the lines and know how hard to push me or pull me back from the edge.

We use TrainingPeaks in conjunction with my Polar heart rate monitor to look at patterns over time. For the athletes we coach with AP Racing, we rely on TrainingPeaks for communication, analysis and planning.

We are constantly looking at a variety of different metrics to optimize their training. With that, we don’t coach or train strictly “by the numbers” as there is definitely a human element and understanding of each individual that you must take into consideration beyond what the numbers tell you.

You have been a long-time TrainingPeaks user. How has it helped you dial-in your “A” race preparations and what is your favorite feature?

My favorite part of TrainingPeaks is to be able to look back over many years of training and spot trends, to understand what has/has not worked and to also give myself confidence to look at the work we have done.

Heading into Kona, what numbers and stats are you paying particular attention to?

We look at a variety of things in training/racing constantly but the three key variables that we are always monitoring and adjusting to elicit different responses are: Pace or Power, Heart Rate (HR) and recovery time.

One area we spend a lot of time focusing on is HR drop or recovery time. We monitor how long it takes for my HR to drop 15 beats/minute at a given pace.

As time progresses, we like to see the recovery time drop while the pace or power increases as well. This tells me that I am able to go faster or produce more power and my body can handle it better because I am recovering faster.

It is a rudimentary way to measure efficiency. As you progress through the year, you can alter any of these three variables to get different responses and see how your body is adapting.

How long have you worked with your coach and how has your relationship evolved over time when it comes to your race planning?

Mike Doane has been my only coach in my triathlon career. Like any good relationship it has evolved over time and is a true partnership. Race planning for a professional should be a function of what races I want to do and which ones excite me, what races do I have to do for sponsor obligations or because they are important to the sport, and what races can I use to help me get better or feed my family.

Mike and I sit down and look at my fitness at various times throughout the year to assess where we are, where we are going and how we can check any of those three boxes and have a great day on the race course.

Every athlete, professional or not, deals with unexpected hiccups throughout a given race calendar—what have been some of your surprises this season and how have you dealt with them?

It took a while for my body to come around this year because I raced an IRONMAN in December. I had hoped to be ready to rock by March, but sometimes you just have to be patient.

Patience is something that not many athletes have the luxury to afford. I kept giving myself a chance to improve as the training and racing progressed. I’m finally coming around and it couldn’t be at a better time. Sometimes things work out for a reason.

How has your Kona strategy changed from now as opposed to, say, five years ago? I’m sure you learn something new every year, so what did you learn last year that has proved helpful for this year’s preparation?

I’ve changed my strategy for Kona as the years have gone by because the race required it and because I’ve had different goals. At the end of the day there aren’t many places to hide in the lava fields, so you have to be prepared for a mental and physical challenge.

I didn’t do a good job with my nutrition last year and I paid the price. So, I’ve got a strategy in place where if I drop a bottle or miss special needs (what happened in 2016)—I’m covered.

Plus another big change for me going into Kona 2017 is that I’ve had some really long rides (7+ hours). I hope that it will pay off either on my ride or run (or both!).

You started the AP Racing Team and now have almost 300 athletes. What lessons about time management and training strategies do you find yourself imparting upon them most frequently?

It’s funny—I get questions all the time about my training and I always have to ask: “Do you want to hear about me or do you want to hear about what I think might work for you?”

I am very fortunate to be a professional triathlete and my training day is typically  six to eight-plus hours long, every day. So, what works for me, doesn’t work for someone who has a job, commute, kids, wife, or pretty much anything at all going on in their life.

With that, there are a few key things most age group athletes can incorporate into their training:

Brick workouts. You should always be doubling up your workouts. It is way faster and a lot more efficient. I prefer the bike/run combo but a swim/run or swim/bike works great too.
Long runs during the week. It takes longer to do bike training and most folks do not have enough time during the week to get in enough time to ride. So, why not use both days on the weekend to bike/run or heck, swim, bike and run. It is a lot easier to sneak in a longer run early in the morning or later in the evening with a headlamp if necessary.
Sleep. No matter what, sleep is the #1 factor for a triathletes success. It helps establish a routine, it allows us to recover and grow stronger and it helps your body prepare for your training sessions. If you can be good at one thing, don’t be good at sleep, be great!
Big days do not equal big results. So many of our athletes come to us and want to have these monster training days. While that is great, it is consistency and repeatability that matter most when it comes to making gains in triathlon.

Are there any favorite Kona build workouts that you do or are planning to do that you would want to share?  

As I mentioned earlier, we do a lot of 15 beat drop workouts and are on the track every Tuesday. Those are hard but really great for dialing in very specific work.

I have also really enjoyed the time I have been riding outside this year. We have had a lot of solid training sessions where we are riding hard and putting ourselves in a tough spot early on in the rides and then riding the back half even harder.

It’s been a great year of training, and I’m excited to race.

The post The Kona Veteran: A Q&A With Pro Triathlete Andy Potts appeared first on TrainingPeaks.

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