Ollie Whistler Places 6th at Belgium Ironman 70.3 Triathlon and Talks about his Last Year and his Focus on becoming one of the Best

Up and coming Australian triathlete Ollie Whistler had a great race on July 24 at the Belgium 70.3 in Antwerp placing 6th overall in a time of 3:49:10, just under 4min behind first placed Bart Aernouts. In June Ollie raced in Switzerland in the Powerbar Ironman 70.3 and placed 22nd. This time in Bel

Up and coming Australian triathlete Ollie Whistler had a great race on July 24 at the Belgium 70.3 in Antwerp. Ollie placed 6th overall in a time of 3:49:10,  3:55 behind first placed Bart Aernouts. In June Ollie raced in Switzerland in the  Powerbar Ironman 70.3 and placed 22nd. This time, in Belgium, Ollie put together a much improved half marathon and announced his place amongst the leading 70.3 triathletes currently racing.

Trizone asked Ollie to tell us about the race last week and his last year including moving to the Gold Coast after leaving his job at Clarence Street Cyclery in Sydney. On the Gold Coast Ollie bumped in to a couple of Australia’s leading triathletes and  shortly after found himself  training in Switzerland.

Over to you Ollie…

Testing the waters

The main reason I came over to Europe was because I know it’s the hardest racing in the world. There is nothing like racing against the Euros in their own country and it is just part of the process as I see it. You come here as a young professional aspiring to become a great in the future, race a lot, have your butt kicked, see where you’re at against the best in the world, learn from the racing experience, build contacts for future trips and learn how to really push yourself to the limits…. Physically and mentally! And not just whilst racing, but also trying to survive in foreign countries with nothing other than English and an empty wallet. It really makes you tough. If you can survive here, you can survive anywhere! There is nothing really that glamorous about being a professional triathlete and doing the apprenticeship, but this is what I love and will not stop until I reach my ultimate goals or I am forced to stop or find something else I am more passionate about.

Where I Have Been?

After leaving my full time work at  Clarence St Cyclery and deciding to focus on Triathlon full time in August 2009, I moved to the Gold Coast to live with a family friend. I knew it was good training up there, but had very few contacts and nobody to train with initially. I took the punt though and sure enough it payed off… On one of my first rides I bumped into Brad Kahlefeldt, Emma Moffatt and Daniela Ryf and have since become good friends and training buddies with them. One thing lead to another and they suggested I join them firstly in Locarno Switzerland for two months of training. I am now based in Aix les Bains in France for another month of training with the AIS team. I originally wanted to get myself to Europe to race over the summer, but it wasn’t looking promising until I met these guys. I never really think anything is that big a deal in the end and the consequences of failure can be dealt with, but dealing with the consequences of failing to attempt cannot, so I made a decision to leave and two weeks later I departed. I sold my car, packed my bags and off I went. I didn’t think an offer to train, live and learn from athletes of such calibre and experience was an everyday occurrence and something to turn down. So I did everything possible to make it happen!

My Training

The biggest change to my training was my attitude and of course the hard work. Previously I had always been giving only 50% effort to it because I had other things to deal with like work, relationships etc. I realised if I was as serious about achieving my goals, as my goals were high, it would take a lot of sacrifices… So I cut all ties. There becomes a point when you realise being a professional is more than just the name and the hype attached of becoming a professional, and actually doing the hard work and the right things. Since then I have lived by five things. The first four are HARD WORK, CONSISTENCY, PATIENCE and TIME! This applies to anyone doing anything. You do the hard work (of course it must also be the right type of work), you get it done perfectly for one week, then you multiply this by one month, a year, and then five years. If you can manage to apply this theory to something you are 100% committed and passionate about, you can turn normal people into Champions… or at least try. I think the other thing that has helped me substantially though, was surrounding myself by athletes like Brad and Emma. There comes a point where your progression starts to slow when you are only training on your own or with people of a similar level and until you mix it with the best, you will continue falling short of the best. These guys live by the principles I have mentioned and have achieved the highest level following them. I think my latest result in Belgium was also the product of the following these processes since around May this year. It is enlightening to know that after only completing one micro-cycle of the short term plan, let alone the long term plan, that things have improved so much. The fifth is to BELIEVE… Even in my short career I have been thrown lots of curve balls that could have potentially stopped me from achieving the level I am at now. There will never be an easy way to get anywhere worth going, and there is always going to be obstacles waiting to knock you down. It is the belief you have within yourself and the belief you share with your support network that you will succeed, that will keep you going through these times. Like my race in Rapperswil 70.3, in the end it didn’t go to plan, but I knew the result I wanted was within me because of the hard work I had done in training. It is hard to be motivated after a performance is below what you know your capable of, but I didn’t loose belief and I found what I was after.

At this point I am also looking at the 1%’s. Once you reach a certain level of fitness you can start to slowly change the smaller aspects of your training, living, recovery, nutritional and sleep habits. If you try to do all this at once it will consume you and generally won’t be maintained. So keeping consistency as our main focus here, implementing these things gradually is better. I have worked with my  Coach and  Powerbar to help fine tune things like my nutritional requirements in training and racing. Also things like working on my bike position and the bike I ride with  Clarence St Cyclery and Trek. Recovery methods are also a big focus… personally, I practically live in my  Skins compression and use  Trigger Point Therapy tools daily to help recover and maintain healthy, functional muscle fibers to get the best out of myself. Injury prevention is also key, like rotating your running shoes or keeping them fresh when doing mileage. I am Lucky to have  The Running Company to make sure mine are always fresh!

Building belief within my support network and sponsors and having them help me to achieve my goals has also had major influence on my latest performances. Thank you to them all for giving me the opportunity to explore my potential and attempt to reach my ultimate goals and ambitions!

The Race

The race pretty much planned out exactly how I thought it would. I was without a doubt the fittest and strongest I had ever been, but it is still a little bit early to race with the likes of Marino Vanhoenacker, Dirk Bockel, Frederick Van Leirde etc. They all have at least 10 years of age, training, racing and experience on me, and it takes a super freak to be able to race as fast after only a couple of years in the sport. For me, it was about putting together the best performance I could on the day and it was about perfect. For someone who was once a very weak swimmer, losing 50 seconds to the breakaway pack and leading the chase pack was great. My time and feeling in the water was also great. The only thing that remains a ‘what if’ is if I had been able to respond to a surge around 1000m into the swim and stay on Bjorn Andersons feet, how would this have impacted my bike and consequently my run. I guess a few more weeks of quality swimming and I will have to wait until next time to find out.

The bike was very windy, cool, dead flat and open to the weather. I was never going to be able to ride back across to the powerhouses up in front, even with the advantage of Treks speed concept time trial bike (the fastest, most aero, and pimping bike on the market), but I did manage to catch some guys who were not able to hang onto the pace of Bjorn, Marino, Dirk and Frederick, and drop the guys who exited the water with me. So I found myself flying solo on the bike and just riding as fast as I could for 90km. Unfortunately about 90min into the bike, Rutger Beke caught me and dragged the guys I had originally dropped back across to me. We rode together for the remaining part with some guys hanging on for the ride until we both attacked and got away with about 5km to go.

Getting onto the run, I had my work cut out in front of me as Bjorn had blown the race to pieces and ridden 7minutes into the group including Marino, who had put a respectable 4mins into me. I had no Garmin, no time checks and no idea of where I was in relation to the front runners because of a 3 lap looped course so we never crossed paths. I had a lot of spectators cheering for me and I’m sure someone was giving me time splits in Flemish, but I had no idea, so I again set out at the fastest pace I felt I could maintain. It wasn’t until the final kilometre that I felt I had probably left too much in the tank unused, but it was too little too late. I ended up holding off the guys behind me and maintaining 6th position. Much to my disappointment, after crossing the line I found out Bjorn had hurt after a massive bike and only finished a couple of minutes up the road and only  the top 5 get paid… gutted! Oh well, again there is always next time.

All on track and what is next

Overall, 6th position and my times actually exceeded my expectations a little and it is still early days. I managed a PB time of 3.55 on a tough day, and had PB times for every discipline. This European campaign is actually laying the foundations and base fitness for the Australian half Ironman series, so to be racing this well off high volume, short tapers and relative fatigue is setting me up for a season to be excited about in Oz! From here I have a few more 70.3 three races, including the European champs (Germany 70.3) on the 15th of August, and some shorter faster races in Spain before heading home on the 22nd of September. There is a slight possibility that I might make a short visit to the States on the way home for another 70.3 or non drafting Olympic distance race. First race back in Australia is going to be Gold Coast half Ironman, which I absolutely love and am going to give it a good crack!