As I enter my final days of preparation for the ITU Duathlon World Championships in Gijon, Spain next weekend, I can’t help but start to wonder whether I’ve done everything possible to ensure I have my best race ever. As an athlete, I find myself constantly second guessing my training; have I done enough, am I overtraining, am I eating right, sleeping, do I have the right equipment?? In general, I’m pretty happy with everything right now and totally stoked to get to Spain and race my ass off!
Last week I was in Beijing at the ITU Triathlon Worlds, managing the National AG team and found myself so busy I was unable to do any meaningful training for nearly ten days….stress! However, the week of rest and the motivation I was able to draw from watching elite athletes like Macca (Chris McCormack), Simon Whitfield and of course the British phenom, Alistair Brownlee, did more for me than I realized and I’ve had some of my best workouts of the year in the three days that I’ve been home.
In the few days remaining before flying out on Monday, I’ve decided that today, Friday, I’ll do a 10k interval run workout alternating half miles at 2:25 and 2:55. Later today I’ll squeeze in a 70k tempo (sub threshold) ride. Training to bike on legs that are fried from a hard 10k is one of the most important components of duathlon training, making an intense run workout followed by a long ride an ideal training strategy. Saturday will be a 80-90k easy ride and Sunday another running interval workout and a few quick laps of the MGCC bridal path loop followed by a longer 15-20k run on Monday morning. After that there’s nothing more I can do except start to mentally focus and taper into next weekend.
The race-course in Gijon looks awesome, well suited to both my running and cycling styles. The run consists of an initial four laps of 2.5k. The loop has a couple of 20m high, short climbs and descents, just enough to take the legs out of guys who’ll inevitably go out too fast on the opening lap. The bike course is two laps of approximately 20k and has one good climb and descent, per lap of about 150m. The climb is solid, about 50% higher than our beloved Brimley climb but stretched out over nearly 3k so under a 10% grade…won’t even need to get close to my small ring. I figure I’ll go with an 11-23 cassette rather than my 11-26 I use for grades over 10%; easy decision. I’ll be riding a rear disk wheel and either a Zipp 404 or 1080 depending on wind conditions. The final run is two laps of the same run loop, totaling 5k.
My competition will be stiff with the European champion and Pan American champion both being on the start list. My competition from last year (and 2x European and World Champion) Didier Vervaleix from France is not racing unfortunately as I looked forward to the challenge of going head to head again this year. Last year I beat him by 35s after starting the bike leg in 8th and passing him on the final bike lap to take the lead. Passing him on the bike course was a huge mental boost as he’s a pro cyclist with two Tour de France starts to his name.
My strategy is simple and the same as it always is in every race; go in feeling totally and completely psyched, confident, looking relaxed at the start line. Control in the first 2k of the first run; the first 2k should be my slowest. Let everyone fly out of the gates and run 3:00/k for the first 2-3k then gradually reel them in and finish in the 32:45 range. This will likely put me about a minute off the lead pack of 3-5 runners heading into the bike. On the bike I need to make up this time and add some, a minute if possible as I head into the final run. The stronger runners will run a sub 16:00 final run whereas mine will be in the 16:30-16:45 range so the minute gap off the bike is essential.
If it all works according to plan then I’ll be headed home with another medal, hopefully gold againbut if not, at least I’ll feel like I’ve done everything possible to have one of my best races ever and as always, will know that I left it all out there.
You can follow the race live here: