What thoughts and influences contribute to making the decision to go Pro? Was this a difficult decision to make?

Each week I am posting a number of questions I have asked pro triathletes from an old media business I use to own.

 

LUKE MCKENZIE

I was part of the Australian Institute of Sport program when I was a junior and living and training in France in 2001 & 2002 gave me a taste of going pro full time. In 2003 I traveled to the USA and based in San Diego and found I was more competitive at the Non-Drafting format and switched my focus from ITU and Olympic selection aspirations to ultimately Half Ironman and Ironman.

 

Elly Frank

Everyone has different reasons for going Pro. Unfortunately being top 50 in the world doesn’t make you rich like in some sports! Pro status doesn’t mean you can tell your boss what you really think and throw away the stilettos. Most Pros work or focus on generating sponsors and this takes a lot of time also. For some people the style of racing age group suits their strengths and they can win as an age grouper but perform poorly when incorporated into the pro race tactics.

For me it was about the competition and opportunity to race a lot and see the world. In my first Ironman I placed in my age group at Kona, and then raced Ironman Australia and won my age group by over half an hour. That was enough for me to want to race in the Pro category, even if it meant getting hooped occasionally! I think the level of competition in female triathlons has dramatically improved in the last 3-4 years.

A small percentage can make a living out of it. Some prize money here and there and building a reputation definitely helps fund the lifestyle. A lot of athletes who gain their pro licence are lost in the numbers for a while, but having to wait 2 years to switch back to age group again is a deterrent.

Triathlon is not generally a sport you can become the best overnight, and I think more age groupers who are eligible should step up if they are mentally ready for the challenge of racing pro and the self-inflicted pressure. At the end of the day, the sun will keep coming up each day, and it’s what makes you happy.

 

RONNIE SCHILDKNECHT

My parents always pushed school so when I got the chance to join the ewz power team and get my first team paycheck in 2002 I was far from making a living out of it but I was starting as a pro. During the next 9 years I all ways studied next to training and racing. Also I worked my way up inside the team with wins at Ironman Zurich. So I really just turned full time pro last year when I finished my Bachlor in Communications. Because of my free time now I started with a bit of coaching now because I really like to help athletes reaching their goals and sharing my experiences.

 

MELISSA HAUSCHILDT

My very first half ironman (Gold Coast Half IM) I raced elite and won beating many top pro triathletes so the decision was not a hard one.

 

IAN MIKELSON

I had gotten to a point (and trust me I say this not to boast) where I was doing pretty well at most races and just figured the step up in the competition level would do me good. I had qualified for my professional license early in 2009, but I really didn’t know it or even think about it. After racing Kona that year, it became much more of a reality to me, and I decided to give it a shot. It was not really that tough of a decision for me because I was still working full time as an attorney. So I didn’t have the pressure to “make a living” from the sport. I thrived on the competition and loved racing so it was somewhat of a “no-brainer” for me. Making the leap to full time training and racing, and leaving the desk job behind (& steady paycheck) behind was a much weightier decision.

 

GINA CRAWFORD

I started with the short races and then within a couple of months I was up to doing a standard distance race and the second one I did I won. I got a coach and started training around 15 hr a week while still working 3 jobs (as a high school maths teacher, teaching the violin, and playing in the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra). The next year I did a whole lot of racing in the standard distance event and won most of them. I started to think I could maybe foot it with the professionals, and left my job as a high school Maths teacher but continued with my other 2 jobs. I knew it was a risk but for me I want to live my life without regrets. My goal turned towards doing an ironman (1st one was March 2007). In New Zealand there is no professional licence as such and so I just believed that I could get in the top 10 and wanted to win some money for my efforts so entered as a pro. I came 5th. After that I raced always as a pro and still worked a bit on the side. My first ironman win came in September 2007 and now I have 9 iron distance titles and am looking for my tenth.

 

JOHAN BORG

I did Ironman NZ in 2010 as my first ironman and won my age group and finished just outside the top 10. After that a few people told me to consider getting my pro licence. After NZ I really wanted to do Ironman WA at the end of the year but hadn’t signed up. But by getting my pro licence I would be able to do it. So I applied and it went through. Unfortunately I couldn’t do the race because I got injured before. Looking back it might have been a bit early to get my pro licence but I recon I’v gotten more long term benefits from the extra experience of racing in the pro field instead of doing well in age group.

 

CLAYTON FETTELL

I always wanted to be a professional sportsman, and in my late teens I started to see promising signs that I had something, and knew what I wanted.

 

Matty White

I first chose to go pro in my early 20s after quitting my job I moved to the gold coast to train with Col Stewarts squad which was jam packed with all the big names at the time. I figured that I was young enough to have a good crack at living the dream and it was totally my decision. Being a professional sportsperson has always been a dream of mine so it wasn’t a hard decision.

 

SIMON COCHRANE

I had a few consecutive age-group wins, had qualified and raced at the Hawaii World Champs a couple of times. It was a tough decision to make the step up but it had always been my dream to race Ironman as a Professional. My theory is you never know until you try, I have had a few top-10 finishes in my first Pro season so I think I have validated my decision with some good consistent racing and continually learning and improving each time. I’m only 28 and the top guys are pushing hard right up past 40 now.

 

PHILIP GRAVES

Not really, i won Ironman Uk and 70.3 UK in 2009 whilst i was in my 2nd year of university so after finishing my 3rd year of my History degree it was the natural path to take.

 

RICHIE CUNNINGHAM

As a kid, I always wanted to be a pro athlete. After my brother introduced me to triathlon, I knew that was what I wanted to do, but I joined the military right after that so I didn’t get to chase that dream until 6 years later. It was an easy decision to go pro, but it took me 10 years as a pro to become successful. The hard part was surviving as a pro.

 

JOSH AMBERGER

Not to sound condescending or anything but I don’t really consider myself professional. Being a pro means making a good living, and that’s something that has become few and far between amongst Australian athletes. While I don’t have a full time job and I dedicate all my time to sport (apart from part-time study), I think acutally ‘turning pro’ is a few years away. I have some loyal sponsors, and I’m currently building on these relationships. At the moment, I’m doing okay, but as I said, I wouldn’t call myself professional just yet.

Aside from this, I’ve always been at the pointy end of high performance sport, be that swimming or running when I was younger, or Triathlon in latter years. It was an organic decision to dedicate myself to racing at the highest level.

 

RICHARD WHITFIELD

I had talked to my coach Russell Cox about it last season. When racing I was placing well in races and beating pros. The real turning point, I came off my bike 3weeks out of IM Wales. I was sat in a Spanish hospital after breaking my collar bone. I made up my mind at that point thinking, what have I got to lose.

 

ANDI BOECHERER

After school I went directly to university to study Mathematics and I started to train more and improved really quickly. That time my girlfriend and me decided to start a family. After finishing 7th at the Ironman European Championships and completing a bacchelor I just wasn’t able to handle all three family, university and my sporting carreer so I quit university and concentrated on triathlon. And I was absolutely happy to spend a lot of time with our little taughter Paula and see her grow up and discover the world every single day.

 

GUY CRAWFORD

Funny you ask I just ran a seminar on this the other week.
•Choosing the right time
•Getting a results database
•Age group/ pro racing are very different
•Be smart, keep working, Patience. you can still work and race, you don’t have to drop everything
•Start planning now.
•The plan to go bankrupt slowly isn’t a good one. ie: saving up to turning pro isn’t going to pay the bills
•Other things to consider: Sponsors, cash flow, travel

 

JOSH RIX

I had been getting faster and scoring some wins in my local triathlon series, in the Open Elite category, so once I had finished my university degree I guess the competitive nature I have inside me got the better of me and I just wanted to try and see if I was capable of making it as a professional.

 

JAMES HODGE

To be honest I did not think I would be going pro for a long time, as I did not think I could be at that level for a long time considering all my other commitments. But after my race at the Coles Bay 100 I decided to apply for my pro licence which I got granted the next week. The decision to go pro was one of the easiest decisions I have ever made, as I had always dreamt of racing against the other pros that I had looked up to for so long and getting the pro licence was the only way to race them.

 

MICHAEL LOVATO

It took me seven years of racing in the age group ranks before I felt that I was competitive enough to race pro. In fact, several of the guys who I was beating in my age group had turned pro before me. I wanted to make sure that I was not making the move prematurely. I had some success at the top of the half ironman ranks – from an overall amateur standpoint – and even entered T2 at Kona within the top 20 overall. But even those successes did not give me the confidence that I could contend in the pro ranks. I finally made the jump after determining that racing head-to-head with the best was going to be the best way to make myself better.

 

 

 

 

 

Ask A Pro Triathlete

 

These are some questions I have asked pro triathletes a few years back for a publication I was working on.  I thought it would be fun to break them up into questions and post a new question each week.

 

Question:

What brought you to the sport of triathlon?

 

LUKE MCKENZIE

I grew up near Forster the original home of Ironman Australia and I would volunteer on the aid stations with my parents in the mid to late eighties. I didn’t start triathlon till 1994 but I’d seen, supported and knew about it from a young age.

 

Elly Frank
I did Noosa Triathlon for fun when I was about 20. I was on a borrowed Flat bar style mountain Bike and even though I got thrashed I loved it!

 

RONNIE SCHILDKNECHT

There was the Ironman Zurich just around the corner from my house and I entered the olympic junior race as my first triathlon. Terrible experience, I got 2nd last.

 

MELISSA HAUSCHILDT 

I was previously a runner. After several injuries I bought a bike to cross train. I enjoyed it so much I started competing in cycling races locally before my (now) manager convinced me to give triathlon a go.

 

IAN MIKELSON

I began running just as a way to stay in shape. Just because it got you 2 free beers at the beer garden after, and I ran a local 10K and ran okay. A friend who had done some triathlon in college urged me to try out triathlon and I am glad she did. I did a sprint race and was hooked.

 

GINA CRAWFORD

I was bored with my working life and needed something for me, a hobby. I hadn’t done any exercise in about 7 years and my husband encouraged me to have a go at one of the short triathlons aimed at getting women involved (200m swim, 15k bike, 3k run). That was in 2005 and I was instantly hooked on the sport.

 

JOHAN BORG

I started triathlon 7 years ago when I moved to Australia from Sweden. Back in Sweden I had done some running and mountain biking. After moving I wanted to keep that up but found that I preferred riding on the road. I then started doing some riding and running with a tri squad and thought I might as well take up swimming as well since everyone else I was training with was doing it. I did a few races and found that I was doing ok (once I got out of the water that is). After about 2 years I started taking it a bit more seriously and did a few longer races and really found my stride and from there, there was no turning back.

 

CLAYTON FETTELL

The Lennox Head triathlon, made my debut when I was 10 and haven’t looked back.

 

MATTY WHITE

I first started out in triathlons at my school in SA in year 10 at Sacred Heart College; I played AFL and Cricket at a high junior level and thought it would be a good idea as it was introduced as a school subject. I think I finished 3rd last in my first race but I was hooked and gave up all my other sports to concentrate on being good at this sport.

 

SIMON COCHRANE

I have always been competitive at a range of sports, playing rugby and racing Motocross from an early age. I was drawn to the challenge and enormity of an Ironman, I work as a Personal Trainer and have coached a few athletes at varying distances of Triathlon and running. It is a great sport for socialising and training with like-minded people, and complements a healthy lifestyle.

 

PHILIP GRAVES

I was a swimmer/runner from an early age and rode to school and swimming every day so i was already doing all 3 sports from a very early age. when i was 12 i entered an Ironkids triathlon at the local gym and from there went to a triathlon taster day with Jack Maitland and Simon Ward

 

RICHIE CUNNINGHAM

My brother got me into the sport when I was 15.

 

JOSH AMBERGER

I started swimming when I was young and quickly had success with some national titles and records. My performances started to plateau when I was about 13 and others started to mature quicker than me. I went from winning titles so not even making finals, all because overnight kids grew beards and grew upwards while I remained rather undeveloped. Naturally I began to lose interest in swimming, and because I was doing a lot of school running at the time I easily found triathlon. I loved it and it stuck.

 

RICHARD WHITFIELD

I was playing semi pro football, and I was playing in an FA cup qualifying round, I was stood on the pitch and I just thought to myself why am I doing this!

So I stopped playing. I was going to America, and In the airport I seen a triathlon magazine, I thought that sounds cool. Booked my 1st race which was London Tri.

 

ANDI BOECHERER

At the Age of 16 I started to do some mountainbiking and with 18years I did my first race and discovered my competetiv genes. The following winter I wanted to stay fit and went to the pool twice a week. I met a triathlon training squad and started to train with them. In the next summer I did my first triathlon and got hooked immediately although my running was really bad.

 

GUY CRAWFORD

Actually my friends at school and I entered a team triathlon and I barely made it through the swim section or 500m and got owned by every-one and it hit a competitive nerve in me… Since then I have been doing tri’s for fun and competitively.

 

JOSH RIX

I was actually a tennis player, but I did a lot of swimming and cross country running for my high school team and one day a schoolteacher suggested a few of us do a triathlon and I did pretty well, considering I was on a mountain bike, and so I was hooked with the sport.

 

JAMES HODGE

My first triathlon was at the start of 2006 down at Beauty Point. My mate Matt Guy asked me come along to it, where I competed in the novice race and came third. What kept me hooked is the variety of training you are able to do, it never makes the sport boring.

 

LEVI MAXWELL

MY COMPETITIVE NATURE AND PASSION FOR HEALTH AND FITNESS

 

MICHAEL LOVATO

I had been a competitive athlete my whole life – throughout my youth and in high school – and when I started college, I was not continuing with any of my previous sports (soccer, swimming, track). I was an active (weight lifting) freshman, who worked as a life guard. I was more concerned with trying to look good and impress the girls, than with competing. So naturally, when a friend pointed out that there was an intramural sprint triathlon on campus, I jumped at the chance. What better way was there to look good and impress the ladies! (Incidentally, the race kicked my butt, and not even the ladies that beat me were too impressed with my moves…)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Increasing FTP

Functional Threshold Power (FTP) is simply the maximum power your body can maintain under aerobic condition for typically one hour. Most of us do not do the one hour FTP test as it can be done doing a 20 minute time trial and your FTP being 95% being the average of that 20 minute time trial.

VO2 Max

FTP is actually a percentage of your overall VO2 max capacity. So next time someone says triathletes don’t need to worry about their VO2 max, you can tell them to rack off.

 

Increasing your FTP

There is already a lot of information out there about how to improve your FTP by doing 20min sweet spot sets (sweet spot is between 84-95% of your FTP). Yes this will work but at some point, you will need to focus on increasing your VO2 max ceiling in order to give your FTP room to grow.

 

What now?

Start off 5-8 minute efforts @110% FTP, move towards 3 minute efforts @ 120% of FTP. Start off doing 3-4 reps and slowly build towards 9 reps.

 

FTP intervals:

Building FTP is more a case of building endurance at a high percentages of VO2 max. The standard interval is 2x 20 minutes at sweet spot (84-95% of FTP), as you progress, you can slowly increase this to 100% FTP then do 3x 20min @ sweet spot.

 

Strength Endurance:

If you are looking at raising your VO2 max ceiling and FTP, I would recommend including into your weekly program a strength endurance session. Doing hill repeats or low cadence sets with cadence or around 55-65 RPM at 84-110% of FTP. Starting off doing 4min efforts and slowly building over time.

 

Don’t have a power meter?

Moderate: keeping it all aerobic (should be able to hold a conversation comfortably)
Medium: this will be your FTP intervals (this should be uncomfortable but manageable)
MAD: this will be your VO2 max intervals (As fast as possible without compromising your technique)
Easy: when doing these intervals, easy is EASY

 

Tim Egge

tim@trainsmooth.com

Race Weight Diet Log

I’m a big fan of mixed martial arts, I just love watching UFC, Bellator and other promotions. It’s not so much the fighting that I love the most but I’m fascinated with the athletes. What most people think of are just a bunch of rough nuts jumping into an octagon and punching each other are in fact wrong. These are highly skilled and trained athletes who have full control of all aspects of their life and when it comes to weight loss and weight cut they are ninjas.

The way these athletes diet and then cut weight, they have this down to a fine art or to be more correct, it’s a science. I was recently listening to an interview with UFC fighter Kevin Lee.

He described in this interview the way he dieted and the way he cuts weight. He mentioned that he writes down in great detail everything so when it’s time to redo his diet and weight cut in coming fights, he can look back and see what worked and what didn’t.

In the lead up to his past fight against Tony Ferguson, Kevin decided to follow a weight loss program he had done in a past that had gone very smoothly. At one stage during this weight loss he found himself ahead of schedule. Because of this he slackened off slightly and lost momentum. Now comes time when he needs to start cutting the weight and taking all the fluids out of his body and he really struggled.

My point here is when getting down to race weight, it will pay dividends if you logged in great detail everything you consumed as with all your training. Making note what worked and what didn’t. The more details you can log the better it will be in coming races when it’s time to start losing weight again.

History can tell us so much and help shape our future. It’s so easy to forget all the little things so don’t leave it to your head to remember, log everything down and create a blue print for the races to come

If you would like a written diary to log all your meals, below is a form I use.

Written Meal Intake Form: – CLICK HERE

Tim Egge

 

Race Weight Hack

MMA Coach Clayton Hires talked about fighters who need to lose extra weight for an upcoming fight normally have to run in the morning and often again in the late evening before bed on top of their normal training to help lose the weight and it is often these athletes who have to lose a lot of weight as well as cut the water from their body who goes into fights in better conditioning than the athletes who don’t need to lose as much weight and don’t need to be running twice a day.

 

What is my point?

By adding in some extra training that will not impact the rest of your training block, you will simply burn more calories.

 

What about junk miles?

If the training has a purpose, it isn’t junk miles.  Junk miles is simply just doing miles for the sake of doing miles. This isn’t it.  The purpose is simply to help lose extra body fat so these sessions have a purpose.  Going for a 20-30 minute easy run or a ride or going to the gym and using the cardio equipment will help you to burning more calories and get down to race weight faster.

The main factor to look out for is the extra sessions can not negatively impact any other session you have set in your program.  The extra miles are not worth doing if it is going to create any issues no matter how small the issues seem.

 

Is this a optimal way to help get down to race weight? 

No.  This blog is simply offering a hack to consider if you are struggling.

I will post a few more race weight hack blogs in the coming weeks.

Tim Egge

 

Useful Drills for Triathletes

  • What are some of the best drills I find useful for triathletes?
  • How should you add drills onto your program?

 

I wanted to write something for a little while now on drills I find useful for most triathletes to add into their swim training all year round.

If you are unaware of what each drill is, I suggest you YouTube them as these should help you become a better swimmer. I will give a list of the most common drills I use for athletes and I will give some ideas on how to use them.

Yes there are many other drills I use but I use others drills for the reason for the athlete’s individual needs. These drills I believe most triathletes can benefit from.

 

Drills:

  • 6/1/6 with fins
  • 6/3/6 with fins
  • Scull with a pool buoy
  • Doggy paddle with pool buoy
  • Broken Arrow with fins

 

Including drills:

I am a big fan of including drills into your warm up.  Here are three different warm ups you can use.  I made these simple to do and remember but you can change and have fun with them.

 

Session One:

Warm Up:

200m free

200m of 50m 6/1/6, 50m free

200m pull and paddle breathing done as 50m B3s, 50m B5s, 50m B7s, 50m B3s

200m of 50m 6/3/6, 50m free

200m building over each 50m

 

Session Two

Warm up:

200m free

200m of 25m scull, 75m free

200m of 25m doggy paddle, 75m free

200m of 25m scull, 25m doggy paddle, 50m free

Build:

100m done as 25m MAD, 75m easy +20s

100m done as 50m MAD, 50m easy +20s

100m done as 75m MAD, 25m easy

 

Session Three

Warm Up

200m free

200m of 50m 6/1/6, 50m free

 

200m of 25m scull, 25m doggy paddle, 50m free

200m of 50m broken arrow, 50m free

200m of 50m doggy paddle, 50m free

 

Weaker Kick

If you have a weaker kick, doing your cool down with 200m of 12m torpedo kick, 12m free is a great way to build your kick and help cool down from your session.

 

Ironman & 70.3 via Power Numbers

You have a power meter.

You have a Functional Threshold Power score.

You have a power zone list for training.

Now what should your race power be?

 

This is a guide for Ironman and half Ironman events you can used based off a percentage of your Functional Threshold Power (FTP) or critical power score.

Looking at your predicted race finish time, you can use these percentages to help guide your training and what power you plan to hold for your race.  Many athletes simply pick a number they see often when they feel good on their long rides. This doesn’t translate too well come race day.

 

Remember:

These hours are total race times and not bike split time. The percentage is a percentage of your FTP

 

Half Ironman Power:

  • 3-4 hours = 83-85%
  • 4-5 hours = 81-83%
  • 5-6 hours = 79-81%
  • 7+ hours = 75-77%

 

Ironman Power

  • 8-9 hours = 78-80%
  • 9-10 hours = 76-78%
  • 10-11 hours = 74-76%
  • 11-12 hours = 72-74%
  • 12-13 hours = 70-72%
  • 13-14 hours = 68-70%
  • 14-15 hours = 66-68%
  • 15-17 hours = 64-66%

 

Example:

To use nice simple maths, if my FTP was 300 watts and I wanted to race a Half Ironman in 4-5 hours and a full Ironman in 9-10 hours, my racing power would be:

  • Half Ironman: 243-249 watts
  • Ironman: 228-234 watts

 

Hills

For both half Ironman and Ironman, riding up hill at these power watts will be too low however you don’t want to go over threshold. so bringing it up to threshold but not over threshold.

With downhill, big gear and peddle softly.

 

Hope these numbers help.

Tim Egge