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Clayton Fettell: Ironman Cairns is a Priority

Clayton Fettell has a strict new training regime, making him one to watch at the Asia Pacific Championships in Cairns next month. Trizone spoke to the Aussie athlete about his past six months and the gruelling Cairns course.

“Sitting in the group is not for me, it’s not my way of racing.Grant and I have been working on training me by myself; which is how I race,” Clayton Fettell told Trizone. With the Asia Pacific Championships only 2.5 weeks away, Fettell is working directly on strategy. “My coach decided we’d target Port Macquarie, Cairns and Hawaii. I used Geelong and Ironman New Zealand as early season races, but my eyes are on Cairns to qualify for Kona.”

Strategy and support have given Fettell a new edge

Fettell has always been extremely motivated, but he’s never been quite so strategic. In the past Fettell trained himself, and used feel and his fiercely competitive nature to push through races. Now, he uses stability in his training coupled with data. “I’ve simplified my lifestyle; it’s just eat, sleep train. I’m utilising stable resources; the same coach, the same masseuse and the same people around me”

It’s this team that is helping Fettell move forward with his outcomes. “I started working with a dietician this year and eating really healthy. I used to do it on my own and I’d become depleted and iron deficient to get down to race weight, but now I’m getting to the right weight and staying healthy.” Fettell also joined the Maverick Multisport Team which has given him a new stability in his training.

Data is king for Fettell

Working with coach Giles, who lives just 100m from Fettell, the athlete has implemented a new data-based regime. “I’ve taken the emotion out of racing, it’s all about my numbers now” said Clayton Fettell, “I just know what numbers I need to aim for. I need my heart rate to be around 165-175 so I can get off and run as close to three hours as possible.”

At Ironman Australia this year Fettell had a great race and placed third, finishing in just 8:30:03. “I feel like I can replicate my performance there; it’s helped me create a more calculated process of racing.” Despite his great performance, Fettell did struggle with his nutrition in the race. “Six kilometres into the run, my guts were no good and I had to walk. I came good soon after, but it was rough, a bit of a bad patch. Now my training is about minimising my bad patches.”

A new baby urges Fettell to recover fully

It’s Fettell’s support at home that has also helped him utilise his new approach. “I put trust and belief in people who have been in my life from the start, plus my wife who has been incredibly supportive. We have a new baby and he helps keep me grounded. Pushing him around to coffee shops and taking him out for walks has helped me work on recovering properly,” said Fettell smiling, “I’m finally learning to recover.”

Preparing for Cairns – the taper begins

“Leading in I don’t change anything too drastically. This week is really really light training for me,” Fettell told Trizone, “It’s a whole week off running. I’ll just do a few easy swims and a few easy rides for about an hour. Next week I’ll start back into it. I’ll have two longer riders and two longer runs; the rest of the work will be specific.”

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With two full-distance Ironman events already under his belt this year, Fettell knows he “doesn’t have to chase the load. Robie McEwan once said ‘it’s much nicer managing form than chasing it,’ and I’m just realising what that means,” said Fettell.

The course at Cairns suits the long-course athlete, but the humidity is difficult to manage. “In the past, I’ve been to really humid races and I’ve basically flushed my system and drank way too much water and electrolytes, like six or seven litres per day,” remember Fettell. “Now I know I need to aim for only 5-10% more water than normal, rather than 50-60% more.”

Ironman Cairns Asia Pacific Championships Course

Clayton Fettell knows a thing or two about the Cairns Ironman course, and he has a few tips. As a fierce swimmer himself, his tips for the swim are worth noting. “Start by trying to get to the outside of the group,” said Fettell. “The water can be a bit muddy, so use other people’s feet if you can.”

In the bike course, it’s all about longevity. “You need to keep something in the tank for the return from Port Douglas,” said Fettell. “The last 30kms can be really tough. It can get so windy on the return, and I’ve seen people explode in the last section. There are undulations almost the whole way back.”

When it comes to the run Clayton Fettell has borrowed tips from Luke McKenzie. “Luke told me the other day; ‘run the first 25-30kms at your goal pace, then there’s only one hour to go,’” Fettell told Trizone smiling.

With the lazer focus, data-driven approach Fettell has been craving, he’s definitely one to watch at the Asia Pacific Championships on June 11th. Check back into Trizone to see more info about this exciting event.