Today on The Kona Edge we touch base with Julia Slyer and hear about the improvements she has made on her Ironman bike. She shares how she introduced power into her training regime and how it has changed the way she has trains.
BRAD BROWN: Welcome onto yet another edition of The Kona Edge, it’s time to chat some biking now and we head to upstate New York and we’re joined by Julia Slyer, Julia welcome, thanks for joining us today.
JULIA SLYER: Thank you for having me.
BRAD BROWN: Julia, I’m excited to delve into what you’ve done from a bike perspective because you mentioned to me that you’ve done a lot of work on improving your bike. And you’ve been seeing the gains and the benefits in doing that. It’s pretty important to be a good biker, particularly if you want to be competitive in age group slots.
You’re going to win or lose it on the run. But what you do on the run, you can set it up perfectly on the bike. If you have a strong bike.
JULIA SLYER: Yeah absolutely. I’ve won a race on the run before. But definitely having that confidence on the bike to be able to get up there in flats is super helpful.
BRAD BROWN: Julia, what sort of stuff have you really worked on and focused on this year to get better on the bike?
The advantage of training with power
JULIA SLYER: This year I invested in a Power meter which has helped so much. It’s kind of allowed me to focus my training a lot better and I also made sure that I was actually biking through the winter. I set up a trainer in my dorm room and just biked like an hour, two hours a couple of times a week. And that really helped set me up well for the outdoor season.
BRAD BROWN: There’s two things I’m going to dig into there. First one is the Power meter. For many triathletes it’s been a game changer. Do you wish you’d gotten one a bit sooner?
JULIA SLYER: I’m not sure I wish I’d gotten one sooner. I’m definitely glad that I have it now. But I think training just by perceived effort and cadence helped me in the past. And it definitely allowed me to just get used to my bike. Without having to worry about looking at my Garmin and looking at my Power output and everything like that.
BRAD BROWN: What have you learnt, what’s the biggest takeaway that you’ve learnt from training with a Power meter, about yourself and the way you train?
JULIA SLYER: I’ve basically learnt that I was riding not very hard before I got my Power meter. My coach has set me up with workouts now so that I hit most of my zones and most of my stuff is usually tempo rides. Over long distances usually. Whereas in the past I’d go really easy for my long distance stuff.
BRAD BROWN: Let’s talk about training through the winter. Something that’s popped up very often here on The Kona Edge is consistency. And probably more so in the water and keeping going, but have you found that that’s really helped, getting on the indoor? I know it’s not really conducive to getting outdoors during your winters cause they can be quite tough, but the indoor trainer, as horrible as it is to spend time on them, they do have a place in a training regime.
JULIA SLYER: Yeah, absolutely. I never really trained on the bike through the winter before. I usually just ran. So having my bike setup, a trainer in my room, it annoyed my roommate, but other than that, it was awesome. I got to get my workouts in and I was just setup so well for the outdoor season once I could finally ride outside. And I definitely made some gains.
BRAD BROWN: It’s basically that you’re not starting from scratch every season, essentially, that you’re building on something. You don’t need to do too much, but something is better than nothing.
JULIA SLYER: Absolutely, I definitely maintained a lot of the fitness that I gained, going through Kona in 2015. I only took about 3 weeks off after Kona and then I just got right back into training, got on my trainer. That way I didn’t really lose much fitness. I just got to build on it.
BRAD BROWN: What’s the biggest thing you’re struggling with, as far as the bike goes and your performance on the bike right now?
JULIA SLYER: I definitely need to make sure that I don’t push too hard on the bike. Now that I have more confidence in it, that way I still have my run legs left and I just got to work on my bike nutrition a little bit more.
BRAD BROWN: As far as gains go on the bike, have you done one thing that you think has given you major advantage in your career so far?
Boost your Ironman performance with long distance rides
JULIA SLYER: This season I’ve done a lot more distance riding. Four, five, six hours and that’s definitely helped me in terms of endurance. And also just the mental edge that I’ve gotten from riding that long so often, definitely helped me in my last race.
BRAD BROWN: It’s so funny you say that because in my first few Ironman’s I was doing lots of those sorts of rides. This year not so much and you can feel it. You might not think it’s making a big difference but like you say, from a mental perspective, if you’ve been there many times before, come race day, it’s really not such a big stretch.
JULIA SLYER: Yeah, exactly. I used to hit this mental wall when I got to 100 miles in a race. Those last 12 on the bike would just kill me. And in my last race, since I was so used to riding that long, it really didn’t feel any different. I was just excited to be moving onto the run instead of dreading the last 12 miles.
BRAD BROWN: Let’s talk about favourite workouts and I’m going to put you on the spot for two here. What’s your favourite indoor workout, what’s your favourite outdoor workout?
JULIA SLYER: My favourite indoor workout is just doing some really hard intervals. Short stuff, like 30 seconds in like zone five or six. Blasts your legs, but it really does help and you feel pretty good afterwards.
Favourite outdoor workout is probably four or five hour tempo ride. Do some threshold intervals in the middle of it, cause it doesn’t kill you, but you still feel like you’re making all those gains.
BRAD BROWN: What do you hate about the bike?
JULIA SLYER: I hate it when my butt gets sore, but other than that, I actually really love the bike. I love being out there on my bike.
BRAD BROWN: Awesome stuff. Julia, thanks so much for your time once again here on The Kona Edge, much appreciated. We look forward to catching up next time and chatting a little bit about your run.
JULIA SLYER: Awesome, thank you.