Ironman Training

Pre-Kona Qwik-View with Top Aussie AGer Sarah Watson

Qwik Kiwi: Last year you had a very successful Invictus Games, however this year instead of being at the Invictus Games you are at the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. What has your season been like since the Invictus Games in Toronto? Which event did you qualify at?

Sarah Watson: After Invictus Games in 2017, I set my sights on completing an Ironman in 2018. I found myself a coach (Colin Norris – Pro Triathlete in Team ITZU) and identified a IM70.3 and an Ironman race to sign up to and set about training under my coach’s guidance. I completed an Olympic distance race in April in Lanzarote and won my age group there much to my surprise. Six weeks later, I lined up for IM 70.3 Barcelona where I placed 4th in my age group. I didn’t qualify for the World Championships, however several weeks later Ironman contacted me asking if I would like to race at the IM World Championships in Port Elizabeth based on my finish time in my category.   I took them up on the offer!

I raced my first full distance Ironman at Bolton in UK on 15 July 2018. I had no expectations of time with it being my first IM. As such, I didn’t feel too much pressure and began the race with the goal of enjoying it (as much as one can enjoy an IM). I managed to finish in 2nd place in my category (40-44) in 10:21h (only 20 seconds in front of 3rd place). I was over the moon to podium in my first race. I stayed for the Slot allocation for IM World Championships not knowing how many slots would be allocated to my age category (there were 63 in my category). When they announced 1 slot would be allocated for my age, my heart sank a little then it begin thumping hard when the 1st place women didn’t stand up when she was offered the slot for the IM Kona. I had agreed with my husband if it was offered, I would take it. So when my name was called out, I sprinted to the stage to accept my slot in the World Championships!

QK: What is your favourite swim session and how are you finding the training time in public pools living in France?

SW: I enjoy open water swimming so once they started to appear in my Training Peaks program, I was cheering. I have really struggled swimming in the swimming pools in France. There are nowhere near as many pools and the lanes are always crowded no matter what time of the day I have turned up. On top of the masses of people in the lanes, there is a lack of lane etiquette which makes completing a session that bit more challenging. We really are lucky in Australia and New Zealand for the facilities we have to train in.

QK: Do you have a key bike workout you utilise in your training?

SW: The key sessions for the lead into the two IM races I have done have been 5-6hour rides mainly in upper Zone 2 with some Z4 efforts with low cadence in the last hour of the long rides. These rides follow with a long run the following day to really replicate the fatigue build up in the legs.

QK: What is your go to run session to develop speed?

SW: Go to run session to build speed is a 10km run with 4 x 1km efforts (90% max effort) with 500m recovery between. It is a brutal session but pays dividends.

QK: With this being your first attempt at Kona what are you hoping to achieve? What are your race goals?

SW: I am just 100% grateful to be here racing in Kona. I am very fortunate to be in a position to be at Kona after only one event and this is not lost on me when I speak to many athletes here who have been aiming to get to Kona for 10 years or more in some cases. I aim to be consistent across the 3three legs by racing within myself knowing the conditions are much more difficult to those I experienced in UK. My goal is cross the finish line carrying the smile I have been wearing all week here in Magical Kona.

View this post on Instagram

Here I am trying to take a video log for this most epic, possibly once in a lifetime, experience of the Ironman World Championships. Let’s just say thank goodness for the Professionals in this field! ?? This is me happening upon @triathlontaren who I have followed from Day 1 of when I ventured into the world Ironman (i.e one year ago). I’ve listened Taren interview the best in the sport, listened to his training tips and lesson learned which has been extremely helpful in my journey to get the success to make it to a World Championship in a short timeframe. I’ll stick to the racing from now so if you are up for some great interviews and coverage from one of the best in this field, follow Triathlon Taren! (P.S excuse my dodgy pronunciation of your name mate!) #triathlontaren #roadtokona #ironmanworldchampionship #imkona #imkona2018 #swimbikerun #ironmums #ironmumsaustralia #teamaus #illsticktomydayjob #kona

A post shared by Sarah (@sarwatson78) on

QK: All the best Sarah you have done yourself proud and you will continue to do yourself, your family and country proud out on the Queen K tomorrow.

Get more of the Pre-Kona series of Qwik Interview with other top level athletes (including Braden Currie, Callum Millward, Melanie Burke amongst others) here:

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