Every once in awhile we get to talk with some fantastic racers and amazing athletes who seem to be able to train and race consistently year after year, race after race, in multiple distances.
How do they do it? What’s going on inside their head?
From the outside it may seem like it’s all smooth sailing, but in reality they are constantly working on getting better, eliminating the rough spots, and paying attention to where they can focus better.
In Episode 8 of Tri 2 Listen, Suzanne Atkinson (head coach of Steel City Endurance, and also host of the podcast) talks with Kirsten about what was going through her mind on race day when she sealed her spot at Kona by winning her age group.
Listen to this audiogram to hear how Kirsten divides the race into three major components (no, not swim, bike and run, lol)
You can hear the entire episode with Kirsten and her father Volker at Tri 2 Listen or on iTunes, Apple or Spotify podcasting apps. Just search for “Tri 2 Listen”, or click below.
Listen to Tri 2 Listen on Apple
Listen on Tri 2 Listen Spotify
Listen on Tri 2 Listen Google
Performance Mangement Chart for a 1 year build to Ironman Arizona occuring 5 days out from the end of the “blue line”. ~10 % reduction from the peak with a positive stress balance is an “idealized” shape of the curve for physical preparedness and an ideal taper.
Ironman Arizona is a late season race. By the time athletes have arrived in Arizona the months upon months of training have often taken an emotional toll, even if the physical preparation is perfect.
Finding that blend of building fitness, maintaining motivation, postitive mindset and visualization, just enough rest without getting stale…that’s the art of tapering.
The performance management chart is one way of viewing the physical stresses of training and looking at how well an athlete is recovering.
By correlating dips in the chronic training load (the “little blue line”) with the bounce in the balance of acute & chronic stress (the yellow zone or the “training stress balance” or TSB), we can prepare an athlete for an idealized race.
There is more to it for sure, but seeing these shapes emerging the week before Ironman Arizona is reassuring for me as a coach as well as for my athlete. No wondering how well the training prepared him. he is well prepared.
From here to Sunday, it’s all about positive visualization, staying limber, managing emotions and energy, and staying organized and out of the fray of race week.
What’s your interpretation of the “little blue line”?
Three Steel City Endurance athletes crossed the finish line at the Ironman World Championships on October 11, 2014. Each of our three athletes has had their own journey to make it to the starting line, and each of them experienced their race day unfold over the blisteringly hot and windy 140.6 mile course.
We are very proud of…
- Kirsten Sass, 35, McKenzie, TN
- David Wirth, 25, Pittsburgh, PA
- Gregory Christiansen, 48, Pittsburgh, PA
Kirsten Sass of McKenzie, TN qualified at IM Louisville this year. Kirsten grew up watching her father train and enter innumerable running & triathlon races. His dream of nearly 20 years to race in Kona became a reality this year when he won a legacy spot. Kirsten immediately added IM Louisville to the 2 other IM races she’d already registered for in an attempt to qualify. She ended up winning her age group and taking 4th place female overall.
David Wirth of Pittsburgh, PA qualified at IM Arizona in 2013, taking 3rd in his age group after an all day battle among the top 5 men in the competitive 25-29 year old category. He ended up 85th overall in that race and qualified as a 2013 Silver All-World athlete. David’s build up to Kona for 2014 was planned to include racing at several shorter distances, earning him several podium spots along the way as well as a PR at the Boston marathon (again) in 2014.
Gregory Christiansen of Pittsburgh, PA won a lottery spot after competing in Syracuse 70.3 as well as Ironman Lake Placid for 2014, with a respectable first time Ironman finish in the upper 5th of his age group during a treacherous weather-filled day. With about 8 weeks of recovery & build between Lake Placid and Kona, Greg maintained excellent fitness. Given the severe heat and winds of Kona as compared to Lake Placid, Greg’s finish was superb.
All three athletes are coached by Steel City Endurance head coach Suzanne Atkinson, MD. If you are interest in seeing if you might have the potential to qualify for Kona in the next few years, please contact us for a consultation.
Kirsten Sass along the hot bike course at Ironman World Championships, Kona, Hawaii October 12, 2014
Kirsten Sass hydrates and refuels at the aid station on Palani hill between miles 10 & 11 as the run course climbs from Ali’i drive up to the Queen K