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Dan Plews Rockets Past Many Pro’s at Ironman New Zealand to win his age group

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Dan Plews is a world-class coach plus an age group Ironman athlete who rocketed ahead of many pros at the Ironman NZ in Taupo. Trizone caught up with Plews to see how he managed such a phenomenal result on March 4th.

“It’s quite a big commitment to do an Ironman every year, so I try to do them every two years,” Dan Plews told Trizone. As a full-time triathlon and rowing coach, plus commitments to researching performance with Prof. Paul Larsen, Plews is a busy man. “I knew Rio would be a big year with the rowers, so I’d always planned to do Ironman in 2017, so I was ready. I started preparing in October 2016.”

Plews knows the difference between exercise and training

“I’m always exercising, but when I start training I have a specific goal in mind. That makes me more regimented about training and preparation,” said Plews. “I try to keep myself in the ‘train to compete’ range so I don’t have a huge margin to make up when an event rolls around.”

As one of the world’s best coaches, you may be surprised to hear Plews has a coach. “I have someone who helps me along the journey, Gordon Walker. He was awarded Halberg coach of the year last year.”

It’s because of his coaching experience, not despite it, that makes Plews understand the need for someone like Walker. “If I coach myself, I often just do what I enjoy doing, not what I need to do. Sometimes you need someone to push yourself more than you’d like.”

This push helps Plews power through fatigue, as he did at the Tauranga 70.3 in January. “I did a big build before it, and I did it tired. [Walker] pushed me to do it, I wouldn’t have done it without him. Plus two brains are always better than one,” Plews told Trizone.

Self coaching yes or no?

If even the best coaches need coaches, we were wondering what Plews thought about the pros who coach themselves. “In my opinion, no one should be self coaching,” said Dan Plews. “Triathlon is such a trainable sport, you really need someone on the outside giving you feedback.”

Age group preparation for Ironman NZ 2017

Sure Plews is a coach of plenty of famous pros, but he’s also an age grouper, albeit a very good one. “I did an average of 20 hours of training every week, give or take a few. On a big week I’d do 25,” said Plews.

As an age grouper, Plews understands life goes on outside of training, so sometimes you need to change your program to suit your daily schedule. “Four weeks before IM NZ I was travelling to Australia so I didn’t ride my bike at all, but that’s one of the perils of an age grouper. I wasn’t going to miss my trip to Australia,” said Dan. “It’s important to fit training around your schedule, not fit your schedule around the training. Sometimes you don’t have any choice.”

Despite the ability to be flexible, Dan Plews’ training program was intense in the lead up to the notoriously tough Ironman event that includes a terrifying 1000m elevation on the bike and rough road surfaces.

Dan Plews’ training schedule before IM NZ

RUN
– Run 4 times a week (50-70km)
– 2 quality sessions on Tuesday & Thursday
– Run off the bike on Saturday
– Long run on Sunday (longest run 35km)

“If it was a run-focused week I’d run 95km in that week,” said Dan Plews. “Sometimes my week would focus on cycling four times a week instead.”

The ability to modify his training depending on need is thanks to Plews’ passion for data, and he measures absolutely everything. “I track it all; heart rate, power, pace, all of it. I knew my swim, bike and run were getting the best results they ever had leading up to the race.”

Goals vs. on the day demands

Dan Plews had his sights set on the course record leading up to race day, but after waking up and seeing Lake Taupo as wavy as the sea, he knew it wouldn’t be an option. “All the technique I was practicing in the pool went out the window and I thrashed around for 3.8km. I was about three minutes slower than I’d hoped but everyone was,” Plews remembers.

“I was watching my heart rate and power on the bike, and they were almost identical each lap: 260 watts.” Despite the poor road conditions and wind, Plews enjoyed the bike leg. “You can get so beaten when conditions are like that, but it’s so important to stay positive,” said Dan. “My Dad was out riding his bike on the course and when I’d go past him we’d have a chat and a laugh, that was pretty great,” said Plews.

Plews says expectations of yourself on race day should be inline with your training. “You have to realise the person who’s done all the training is the same person on race day. Some people get to race day and think they can do things they haven’t done in training,” Plews told Trizone.

Age group vs. Pro is about the competition

“We don’t really race each other as age groupers compared to pros. On race day, it’s very much your own day, and you sit within your zone and do what you’re capable of,” said Plews.

Carbohydrates aren’t king for Dan Plews

Dan Plews’ performance is very refined thanks to his time in the lab. “I know at 260 watts; 67% of my energy is coming from fat not carbs. That means my need for a high carb intake isn’t very great, so I don’t need to be eating tons of gels.”

Understanding he can race fiercely without swallowing excessive carbohydrates is both safer, and more comfortable. “I was having around 55g per hour which is really safe and means you’re stomach doesn’t get sore and you don’t feel as sickly,” said Plew.

Dan Plews Run at Ironman NZ

Approaching the ferocious marathon, Plews felt confident, not because of his running preparation, but because he had been in good biking shape. “The run is always a product of the bike,” said Plews. “I had a goal of 4:05 or 4:10 minute kilometres, and I needed to sit on that from the start.”

Bored with the initial pace, Plews knew he had to maintain it early to make it through the marathon. “It feels ridiculously easy in the first 20 km, but it’s a waiting game. You’ve got to bide your time and let everyone wear themselves out before digging into your own reserves,” said Plews.

If you’re an age grouper and you found the run hard, don’t worry, Dan Plews did too. “The last 10km were tough because of muscle soreness. My quads were killing me with all the jarring and impact,” remembered Plews. Reflecting back he says he could have done some more preparation and eccentric loading, but he’d done everything he could do on the day.

“In the last 10km, my heart rate started slowing and my pace was coming down because my economy was right down. The stretch shortening cycle and elasticity was gone from my legs. There was no spring left.”

 

 

Muscle fatigue vs. energy availability issues

Lucky for Plews, his fatigue was thanks to muscle fatigue not ‘inexcusable metabolic failure’ as he and Larsen call it. “I was slowing because of sore legs, not lack of energy. Anyone who is running out of energy at the end of a marathon is because they can’t access fat stores for energy. They’re dependent on glycogen and carbs, but when that runs out, they can’t access anything else,” said Plews.

Thanks to his training, Plews is a fat adapted athlete, and he ensures his fat is accessible for energy when he races. “If you’re metabolically inflexible, as soon as you start exercising, you go straight into carbohydrate metabolism and you can’t access your fat stores.” Not only is metabolic inflexibility bad news for the endurance athletes at the NZ race, it’s also bad news for anyone hoping to lose weight! If you can’t access your fat stores, you can’t burn them.

Overall, Plews was thrilled with his result. He wasn’t overtrained or injured, and he’d trained consistency throughout the lead up, missing the marks he set for himself only twice in pre-race training. “Consistency is key. My work in the lab is all about keeping athletes consistent and healthy,” said Plews.

Advice for age groupers: Go nuts post-Ironman

An age-grouper through and through (despite his extensive knowledge, lab testing and coaching experience in triathlon) Plews says enjoying yourself after an Ironman is part of being an age grouper.

“In the build up for a race as an age grouper you have to live such a strict life in terms of what you eat, your training and your time. It’s nice not to think about it for a bit!” If you’re imagining Dan Plews overindulging until next year’s race, think again, he gets back on track pretty quickly. “It doesn’t take long until I want to get back into the training regime again,” said Plews. “After only a week I’m back to all my healthy eating.”

Trizone wishes Dan Plews a huge congratulations for his incredible result at such a challenging race. To learn more about Dan Plews and his insight into the best ways to refine your performance from the inside out, check out our summary of his article on metabolism.

A cyclist and tech geek at heart with a passion for new shiny things and a huge appetite for triathlon. I spend most of my time between managing two of Australia's best triathletes and a traditional corporate life.

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Who’s Who on the 2018 Challenge Roth Start list?

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Challenge Roth is one of more popular full Ironman distance triathlons of the year, and the men’s and women’s pro races are coming up on Sunday in Germany’s time zone (UTC+2).

Will this be a boring triathlon with expected winners leading by more than five minutes?

Anything Can Happen on Full-Distance Courses

The great thing about Ironman distance, and Challenge Roth used to be an Ironman race, is that anything can happen on a course with a 3.86km swim, 180.25km bike (or slightly less in this case), and a marathon-length run. Your favorite star may blow a tire, discover a new stress injury in the foot, catch a cold, or overheat under the 25 degree Celsius sun.

To make serious predictions, you have to rule out the above possibilities. Then it comes down to records on various courses, especially Challenge Roths, if they even have have a record there. Other factors include recent progress in swim, bike, or run times, whether they made second-place a couple times in a row and vow to get revenge, whether all their training and passion is aimed at some other triathlon this year, and the list goes on.

Past Winners & Losers

The past few years of Challenge Roth winners and start lists look similar to a Who’s Who of Ironman’s World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. That’s no surprise, because both events attract full-distance pro athletes.

Germany’s Jan Frodeno holds the course record and bike split record. He’s the 2016 Challenge Roth winner and the 2015 and 2016 Ironman World Champion. German Sebastian Kienle, who was the Kona runner-up behind Frodeno in 2016, has a couple Challenge Roth runner-up titles in 2010-2011.

Swiss triathlete Daniela Ryf won the past two years plus the past three Ironman World Championships. The wins were all by large margins. Her runners-up in Roth were Australia’s Carrie Lester and Britain’s Laura Siddall and Australia’s Carrie Lester. Lester trailed her by more than 20 minutes. Siddall lost by 11.5 minutes the following year.

USA’s Lisa Roberts was behind Siddall by more than five minutes and got disqualified for not following the paperwork rules for doping. This handed third-place to Netherlander Yvonne van Klerken, who was a few minutes behind Roberts.

2017 Kona runner-up Lucy Charles, who amazed the triathlon world during her first Ironman pro year, will be debuting on the Roth start line this weekend.

Australia’s Mirinda Carfrae and the UK’s Rachel Joyce did well in 2014 with first and second-place finishes.

Who Won’t Be at Challenge Roth?

Ryf won’t be around this year. Neither will Frodeno. Others who are out are Lester, Carfrae, Joyce, and Roberts. Last year’s men’s champion, Belgium’s Bart Aernouts, won’t be a defending champion this time.

Serious female competitors for the podium this year are Charles, Siddall, Van Klerken, and Finland’s Kaisa Sali.

Serious male competitors include Joe Skipper, who placed second for the past two years behind Aernouts and Frodeno. Other likely podium finishers are Kienle, Germany’s Andreas Dreitz, and Australia’s Cameron Wurf.

Who Will Win?

With Ryf out of the race, Lucy Charles may take over as champion. Her amazing performance in Kona last year surprised many. She’s the faster swimmer of Ironman. Her run has been making remarkable progress this year, so her improvement didn’t stop in Kona. This year’s credits include first-place in Ironman South Africa and Challenge Samorin.

Trizone also got to know Charles’ training strategies, both for physical conditioning and mental prep. She knows just how to challenge herself to propel toward victories with no problems.

For the men, either Kienle or Skipper is the likely winner, or maybe they’ll get thrown from their bikes when their tires blow out, handing the victory to Wurf to the delight of Australia. We used to win this race, a lot. Even without considering uncontrollable misfortunes, it’s a tough call this year.

What do YOU think?

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Major League Triathlon Adds 3rd International Team

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Major League Triathlon, the first and only professional triathlon league in North America, has announced a 9th team (3rd International franchise) for the 2018 season. For the first time in the league’s history, a National team from Mexico will participate in MLT.

The new franchise, dubbed, Guardianes de Guadalajara (Guadalajara Guardians), will consist of many of the top Mexican National Team athletes. The team will include:

Pro Men

  • Crisanto Grajales
  • Irving Perez
  • Abraham Rodriguez
  • Aram Peñaflor
  • Leonardo Saucedo

Pro Women

  • Cecilia Perez
  • Vanesa de La Torre
  • Adriana Carreño
  • Andrea Gutierrez
  • Lizeth Rueda

“We are thrilled to welcome this team to Major League Triathlon.” Said Daniel Cassidy, CEO of Major League Triathlon. “Triathlon Mexico and their athletes have established themselves as one of the world’s top federations leading up to Tokyo 2020. We are extremely excited to continue to increase the level of competition and give our athletes the opportunity to race Mixed Team Relay at the highest level possible. “

Major League Triathlon will host nine professional teams and will host many of the World’s best elite triathletes including international teams from Australia, Canada, and Mexico. MLT will host four events, making stops in: Atlantic City, Vail Valley, Tempe and Charlotte. The third year league specializes in the Mixed Team Relay format of racing, which will make its debut at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. At every event, each athlete will swim 300 meters, bike four miles and run one mile, one at a time, before tagging their next teammate. The first team to have all four athletes cross the finish line will win.

Guardianes de Guadalajara

Guardianes de Guadalajara is the only Mexican/Latin-American Team competing in Major League Triathlon. They represent the City of Guadalajara. The Guardianes de Guadalajara will feature experienced triathletes like Olympians: Crisanto Grajales (London 2012 and Rio 2016), Irving Pérez (Río 2016), Cecilia Pérez (Río 2016) and the future of the extremely strong Mexican National Team including: Junior and U23 triathletes like Vanesa de la Torre, Abraham Rodriguez and Aram Peñaflor.

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Rudy Project Launches Project Podium for Age Group Athletes

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Rudy Project North America, the exclusive distributor of Italian-made endurance sports gear, and the most worn helmet at Kona 7 times in a row is launching Project Podium, an initiative that rewards North America’s fastest age group triathletes with award-winning performance Rudy Project eyewear and helmets. All age group racers that win their age group in any sanctioned long distance triathlon in the United States and Canada are eligible to receive a free, top-of-the-line Rudy Project Boost 01 road aero helmet and a pair of Tralyx sunglasses. Winners will also be featured on Rudy Project’s website and lauded on social media as the top long-distance age group triathletes on the continent.

“A full-distance, 140 miles plus race is nothing to sneeze at, and attempting one is a feat in of itself,” said Paul Craig, Co-CEO and Co-Founder of Rudy Project North America. “To win your age group, to come out on top, is something exceptional, and we want to reward the best, with the best.”

The program is open to all age group triathletes that compete in a sanctioned long distance triathlon race, in Canada or the United States, that is included in Project Podium’s list of eligible races. Athletes must be legal residents of either Canada or the United States in order to be eligible to win. The prize pack being offered is worth up to $625 USD, and triathletes that win their age group can submit their results online for verification at www.rudyprojectna.com/pages/project-podium in order to redeem. Athletes will be able to choose from the entire Boost 01 road aero colour line up, which includes Stealth Black and eye-popping Pink Fluo. Rudy Project’s new road aero helmet is quickly becoming an athlete favourite, following wind tunnel testing by ProCycling Magazine that demonstrated the Boost 01 was faster than any competitor helmet tested. To complement their helmet, athletes can also select a frame from the entire award-winning Tralyx family, including the regular Tralyx, Tralyx XL for additional coverage, or the new Tralyx SLIM, designed specifically for athletes with narrower faces. That, coupled with customer-forward warranties like Rudy Project’s 6 Year Crash Replacement Guarantee and Lifetime Replacement Lens Guarantee, make this an unbeatable prize package for the age grouper at the top of their game.

“Rudy Project is simply the best,” said Paul Craig. “We’re choosing to celebrate athletes who power the sport – the age group athlete and rewarding those that get to the top, the pinnacle of success. It may seem too good to be true, but we’re serious. If you win your age group in one of our listed races, we want to give you a helmet and sunglasses. If that extra push is all it takes to motivate someone to train a little harder, run a little faster down the chute toward the finish line, then we’ve done our job.”

Winning athletes can submit their information and race results for verification online. Athletes that won their age group in any 2018 full distance triathlon prior to the announcement of the program are also eligible to redeem retroactively. Full terms and conditions of the initiative can be found online, as well as a full list of eligible races. The program will run until December 2018.

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Taiwan added to XTERRA World Tour on 29-30 September at Kenting National Park

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XTERRA World Tour today announced the inaugural XTERRA Taiwan off-road triathlon and accompanying sports festival to be held September 29-30, 2018 at Kenting National Park.

Events include an XTERRA championship distance event, an “Xticer” beginner distance off-road triathlon, 5, 10 and 21-kilometre trail runs.

“We are thrilled to bring XTERRA to the people of Taiwan and introduce the sport and lifestyle to athletes of all ages and skill levels,” said Brian Wei, Vice President of Marketing. “We also look forward to having XTERRA Tribe members from around the world join us in Taiwan to discover a truly remarkable location in Kenting and the fabulous culture and community that is found here.”

Kenting is on the southern tip of Taiwan and famous for its warm, turquoise water and white-sand beaches that give way to magnificent mountains and natural reserves.

The main event starts with a one-mile swim at Little Bay beach with a short run in between two-laps. The swim-to-bike transition is at the fascinating Kenting Youth Activity Center, which is comprised of 17 different styles of old-world buildings and is a tourist destination all by itself. Then, the 26-kilometer mountain bike course takes competitors from coastal terrain to rocky riverbeds to uncharted territory high atop MenMaLou mountain. And the final test of endurance is a 10-kilometer trail run through the tranquil and “enchanted forest” of Chihniuling, considered one of the eight wonders of Hengchun.

The XTERRA Taiwan Championship event offers an elite prize purse of $15,000 USD split among the top seven men and women and also 49 qualifying spots for amateurs vying to compete at the 2019 XTERRA World Championship race in Maui.

The Xticer tri is a perfect introductory race with a manageable 200m swim, 10km mountain bike and 2km trail run. Relay teams of two-or-three people are encouraged to race in the full distance event.

In addition to the off-road triathlons there is a race for everyone in the family during the 5km, 10km and 21km trail running races. And for the fast runners, a $20,000 NTD (about $700 USD) will be awarded to the top three men and women in the half-marathon distance race.

XTERRA has had a presence in the Asia-Pacific region since 2000 and hosts events in Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Japan, Korea, Tahiti, and New Caledonia, however, this is its first foray into the burgeoning endurance sports market of Taiwan,” said Janet Clark, President of XTERRA World Tour.

Nico Lebrun, the XTERRA European director, helped design the course. He also returned to Taiwan to host local coaching clinics to help leaders in the area teach the various disciplines of XTERRA as well as champion the XTERRA motto to “Live More” through a healthy, active, outdoor lifestyle.

“After two trips to Kenting I can tell you it’s a beautiful place, and the perfect location for XTERRA,” said Lebrun, who is also part of the organizing committee producing the event. “If you like hot weather, warm water, fresh local food, and strong culture, you will love it here.”

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Drama and excitement at Challenge Denmark

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Andreas Dreitz and Pernille Thalund each took home a convincing victory in Saturday’s Challenge Herning. After a non-wetsuit swim the athletes had to conquer an unusually hot summer day, which delivered as well drama as excitement.

For a while favourite, Camilla Pedersen (DK) looked like a sure winner. The former elite swimmer came first out of the water after only 25:56 minutes, with two minutes down to fellow dane Pernille Thalund. But almost halfway through the bike course, Thalund took the lead and kept it all the way to the finish line. Laura Siddall (GB) fought her way up from being 9th to second place, well three minutes after Thalund. 18 minutes later Frankie Sanjana (GB) crossed the finish line.

Meanwhile, Camilla Pedersen fought a brave but brutal battle with her stomach which refused to hold anything down in the heat. It goes without saying that it was an unfair match, and halfway through the course, she chose to pull herself out of the race.

Dreitz does it again

Among the men, Swedish favorite Jesper Svensson was first out off the water with Daniel Bækkegaard right behind him. But racing across the Danish heath, the ranks were turned upside down. Ultimately, the former Challenge Denmark winner Andi Dreitz took the lead, after which Danes Matthias Lyngsø Petersen and Kristian Hindkjær succeeded in overtaking Svensson.

Last year’s winner, Anders “Hightower” Christensen finished fifth.

The weather as X factor

One should never complain about the fabulous, Danish summer weather. But in the triathlon context, the heat was grueling.For the pros, the water temperature of 23.1 degrees meant a non wetsuit swim, which was a draw back for the heavier athletes.The vast majority of the age groupers athletes chose to swim in their wetsuits.

The almost non-existent wind made cycling really fast. But as the athletes went out running, the combination of heat, sun and no wind meant an excruciatingly hard run through Herning’s otherwise festive streets.

“The weather is always the x-factor in triathlon. It’s something you can not predict or change – and that can make a huge difference in either direction. But it’s the same for everyone, and that’s something that makes it exciting”, says race director Claus Vesterby.

All about the experience

It is a very proud and happy race director, Claus Vesterby, who can close and shut Challenge Herning this evening: “We had a phenomenal pro field with some amazing athletes and personalities. It’s amazing to notice how the Challenge Family spirit influenced the day among both pro and age group athletes. All the amateur athletes at all levels who struggled to exceed their own expectations and have a party with their sport, never seize to amaze me. They are just as important to us as the professionals, and it’s fascinating to see the breadth of our sport. I am proud of that,” says Claus Vesterby:

“Everyone is here to do their best, but first and foremost they come to get a great experience. And there’s no doubt they’ve got that today – and so have I.It’s a pleasure to feel how the city of Herning has taken the Challenge in and really backs us up and creates a party around the athletes. That means so unbelievably much. So we are already looking forward to making an even more amazing event next year.”

RESULTS

Men

  1. Andreas Dreiz, D, 3:47:12
  2. Matthias Lyngsø Petersen, DK, 3:51:54
  3. Kristian Hindkjær, DK, 3:57:31

Women

  1. Pernille Thalund, DK, 4:20:55
  2. Laura Siddall, GB 4:24:00 PM
  3. Frankie Sanjana, GB, 4:42:00 PM

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Mark Allen is Final Surge’s New Partner, Spokesperson, and Advisor for Triathlon

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Mark Allen, 6-time IRONMAN® Triathlon World Champion and “The Greatest Endurance Athlete of All Time” according to ESPN, has teamed up with FinalSurge, the Best Online Training Log according to Triathlete magazine’s June 2018 Issue, to produce a special edition “Mark Allen Coaching” branded training program for triathlon. Allen will also serve as a spokesperson and advisor for Final Surge triathlon projects.

“His accomplishments as an endurance athlete are legendary, but we were even more blown away with his depth of knowledge, experience, and innovations in coaching,” said Bob Butler, IRONMAN Certified Coach and COO of Final Surge. “Having Mark Allen on the team represents an extraordinary opportunity for us to use his unparalleled athletic experience and coaching insights to build on our recent honor as “Best Online Training Log.”

“When the opportunity arose to work with Final Surge I recognized that the technology created by their team had finally reached a level of sophistication and ease of use that would be a perfect match for my coaching theories,” said Allen. “Final Surge has developed the best mobile applications for online coaches in all endurance sports, and I am proud to be a part of their team as they continue to innovate and grow.”

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