Road to Kona.

For many Kona is the holy grail of triathlon and the pinnacle of Ironman racing. The distance, heat and terrain of the race are daunting enough but for Aussies that challenge is exacerbated by having to train though winter and do the hard yards while your usual training partners may be tucked up warm in bed. If all that wasn't enough to make the effort seem insurmountable, age groupers heading to Kona usually have to juggle these arduous training sessions with full time work and family life.

Join us as we follow "Nath" on his journey to Kona as he gives us a preview of his upcoming weekly programme and goals and then after a review of how things went and what he learnt.


First up a little bit about Nath in his own words:

I first watched Kona in the early 90's when I got hooked on triathlons as a young bloke finishing high school in Coffs Harbour on the north coast of NSW. I raced in a lot of olympic and half ironman distance races for a lot of years, never really committing to an ironman, perhaps for fear that I wasn't up to it.

I've always been a solo trainer so for a long while I never really learnt as much as I should from others on training philosophies or principals, and also didn't really get swept up in the ironman movement so much.
Then a few years ago I go involved with a great bunch of guys here in Newcastle who had a couple of ironman competitors among them, the group was known as Team Prawn. So after getting involved with these guys I competed in Port IM in 2011 finishing in 10:44 for my first attempt, commenting to my wife after completing it that I had scratched the ironman itch, why would you do that again I thought.....

Well as we all know, one leads to two.....and so on! I've since the raced the first IM Melb, Port again in 2013 and both times missing a Kona slot by 10 min s or less so the desire grew. My wife has a brother who lives in Singapore so I concocted a cunning plan for us to visit him and his family on a family holiday where we stopped off in Malaysia and I could race IM Malaysia. We all loved Malaysia and the race went reasonably well, where after bonking on the run I managed to hold on to a high enough position to grab a Kona slot and here I am training through another winter preparing for Kona, over 20 years from first seeing the race and dreaming about it.



I tried a coach for about 18 months a couple of years ago, which I found very good and I learnt quite a bit, but the cost and commitment was just a bit much for me. I have a young family where we both work, me full-time and my wife part time and with all of the expenses with triathlon gear I just can't afford a coach so I have gone back to self coaching which works well for me. I find that I actually listen to my body a little better with self coaching as with a coach I was always trying to hit every session with a bit of "see what I did coach!" attitude. Whereas on my own if I feel that my body is not up to it, I will adjust things accordingly.

I have done a lot of reading and research on training and coaching information out there so that I can get the best out of my training, which combined with 20 years of triathlons gives me a reasonable grounding to prepare things. I now find myself helping a number of others training and preparing for various races, which is something I quite enjoy and hope to do more of in the future. Maybe earning a bit of spare change to pay for the toys needed for this sport!

With my busy life as an Engineer managing a team of people, interstate travel, a family etc I have to constantly juggle adjust things. I could have a nice 2-3 block planned and then be told I need to be in the Pilbara or Strezlecki desert in a min camp for a week so I tend not to plan the traditional 3 week build 1 week recovery style of training. Instead I work hard for a shorter period of time and then insert rest & recovery among the weeks where I feel my body needs it, I just go by feel. Sometimes I can get up feeling a bit tired and head out the door at 5am for a run, get 100m down the road turn around and come home and hop backing bed!

Generally though I have a plan for my training phases throughout the year and during ironman blocks and this time will be similar to my previous races. I am currently in a strength and FTP phase of training for the swim and bike to build strength in my shoulders etc for the swim and raise my FTP for the bike. Then I will bring this into more of a race paced/effort phase in a few weeks. As for the run, I have been working on my pace a touch as I am pacing a local 10km race this weekend as the 4 min/km pacer so I am making sure I am sharp enough for that. Then I will work on the strength on the run so that I am strong and steady to hold the pace in the marathon after a tough bike ride. This will involve lots of hills and 2km interval sessions, and tempo work.

I plan my week every Sunday afternoon and map out an 'ideal' week of training, which I may hit all of the sessions or I may (usually) alter some depending in fatigue, work, family etc. I find that I need to set the 'ideal' week so that I have good sessions planned and I don't roll out the door scratching my head on what I'm going to do.

So this is the plan for this week and if you are at all interested in following my progress I am detailing my training in a blog, with some further detail for anyone interested in more details. http://itchytri.blogspot.com.au
I'm sure I am probably doing things wrong on some fronts, and will be open for criticism but this works for me, and I have now got things pretty well worked out for me I think, because I have not been injured or out of action for over 18-20 months although I have trained and raced consistently that whole time. I think that this is due to my approach in training and the intensities that I work within.

Hopefully some people enjoy the read and take it for what it is and don't get too critical on my approach, take from it what you will.


Ed: Good luck Nath and thanks for sharing the journey with us. 

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