Qwik-View: Chris Sanson

Tri Training NZNext up in the Qwik-View series of interviews is an update from Chris Sanson about his training.

Chris is based in the Manawatu and is one of New Zealands top up and coming Iron-distance athletes.


QK: Chris, you are known as one of the hardest training up-and-coming professional/elite Iron-distance triathletes in New Zealand. Last year you finished in the top ten at Wanaka and Taupo. That was a true break-through season for you. What made that season so successful?

CS: It was a combination of a few things. I didn’t have a great Ironman NZ in 2014 due to getting my taper wrong and I really wanted to make immense changes. I worked hard on my training consistency  all year and went into the last two months before Ironman fitter than I normally would be which meant I didn’t need to train so hard in those last few weeks of build up.  Consequently I went into both Challenge and Ironman really fresh.

QK: As a triathlete do you do any dedicated strength training? If so, what sort of things do you include?
CS: Endurance sports are almost all about strength so I do a lot of strength work.  I try and get to the gym two to three times per week and also do different strength sessions in my swim, bike and run [workouts].  For example quite often we will head out for a bike ride in our biggest gear and keep it in that all day.

QK: Over the years you have literally owned the Palmerston North Striders Half Marathon. What has created the most success here for you? Is it because it is your home race and there is extra incentive for you to perform well? Or is it because it is well suited to your strengths? Or maybe it is simply something that keeps you focused on your training over winter?

CS: There are a couple of different reasons Ray.  Firstly the timing of the event is really good for me as it gives me a target to work towards in the winter.  Secondly coming from a cycling background doing a run training block building up to the half has been really good for me.  So it is something I look forward to and enjoy every year.  It really has made my running at the top of the game.

QK: What is your favourite swim workout?

CS: One of my favourite sets is a warm up and a set of efforts of about 1500 meters. I enjoy a 1500m because it is the same as a standard distance.  The effort goes up and down for the whole set just like in a race.Triathlon Coaching NZ
  • 400m on 5:40
  • 4x 100m on 1:25
  • 200m on 2:50
  • 4x 50m on 0:42.5
  • 100m on 1:25
  • 4x 25m on 0:20

QK: What is your favourite bike workout?
CS: Being a cyclist growing up I have done so many different bike workouts and enjoy lots of them. One I am using a lot at the moment and quite enjoy is on my TT bike.  I head out for 30 minutes warm up then do 2x 20 minutes at half Ironman pace and 2x 10 minutes at standard distance pace with five minutes rest between each one. Its a great way to get in a hour of work at race pace.

QK: What is your favourite run workout?
CS: I have put myself though some pretty hard run sessions over the last few years, but one I always go back to just before Ironman is I head out for a 30 minute warm up at 5:00 min/km pace. Then do 3x 20 minutes at 3:50, 3:40 and 3:30 with 10 minutes between efforts at 4:30 min/km.  If I am a few weeks out from a marathon I would do the same but at 3:40, 3:30, 3:20.  Great way to get in a 30k run in two hours.

QK: What is your greatest athletic moment of your career thus far?

CS: Ironman last year was pretty special for me. I didn’t have a great ride and really hit the wall on the way back. I remember running out of T2 and seeing the clock at 5:59. I said to myself all I need to do is run a three hour marathon (which I hadn’t done before) and I would go under nine hours. So that’s all I worked towards. I ended up running 2:55 which is a pretty quick run and ran myself into the top 10 after thinking on the bike I wasn’t going to finish. It topped off a great summer.

QK: What have you learned over the last 12 months that more people should know?

CS: I have been doing lots and lots of strength work with a lower cadence on my bike and I think its given me some great gains. Triathletes look at cyclist spinning and think that’s what I need to do. It might not be the case.


QK: What are the two biggest training mistakes you have made and how have you come back from them?

CS: One would be trying to swim too fast. If you are not a fast swimmer don’t try and be one. Once I slowed down and started training at a speed more suited to me I got faster.

And secondly would be getting really really fit but not having enough strength training. I made some great gains in the last few years but added in lots more strength work (and you still get really fit from it).

QK: Can you give us an example of the recovery techniques you use to recover from your training weeks?
CS: I try and put in a easy swim on a Monday. It’s a great way to make sure I am fully recovered from the last week and build into the week to come.  I  like to walk lots with my dogs. It’s a nice change to trying to go fast all the time. I generally eat as much as a family of four would and try and keep carbs, protein and fats all even in my diet.

Ironman Coaching NZQK: What events are you targeting for the remainder of the 2016?

CS: This year will be really similar to 2015. I have Challenge Wanaka and Taupo Ironman coming up. Then if I recover ok I will race Rotorua marathon again and without giving too much away another marathon two weeks later.   After that will depend on the body.  The sky is the limit.

QK: All the best for both Ironman and Challenge, I’ll see you up in Rotorua.

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