Amy Farrell shares valuable tips on improving your Ironman bike here on The Kona Edge. We find out how mixing things up in our Ironman bike training can improve performance.
BRAD BROWN: You’re listening to The Kona Edge. We’re joined now by Amy Farrell who is in upstate New York. Amy welcome back onto The Kona Edge. Thanks for your time today.
AMY FARRELL: Thank you for having me.
BRAD BROWN: Amy let’s talk about your Ironman bike. You are pretty strong on the bike. Obviously I think your run is your strongest of the 3 disciplines, but in order to be competitive and win an age group title in Kona you’ve got to be fairly decent on the bike. You do put in a lot of time.
Putting time in your Ironman bike because you love it
Tell me a little bit about your feelings about that bike. Is it something that you love doing or is it unfortunately a necessary evil of triathlon?
AMY FARRELL: No, I love cycling. I feel like the older I get the more I love it. My coach prescribes quite a bit of quality work in terms of cycling and running so it’s kind of all about hitting those watts. But also, I love where a bike can take you when you’re outside.
BRAD BROWN: You live in a beautiful part of the world. Obviously winters can be quite brutal where you are but do you try and get out as much as you can? I know you do a lot on the indoor trainer just because it’s necessary. If you had the choice, would everything be done outdoors?
Take on the challenge of the hills to strengthen your Ironman bike
AMY FARRELL: If it was always warm enough. Sometimes it is hard to get out there when it’s 30 degrees on a late September morning but I love the scenery and the challenge of the hills around here. I feel like it has really strengthened my cycling.
BRAD BROWN: Amy you talk about strengthening cycling but tell me about some of the things that you’ve done over time that you think has improved your cycling performance.
AMY FARRELL: I just think the evolution of my coaches plans and pushing the strength proponent of cycling, has really helped.
Every week is a different workout, it’s a different goal. That’s really kept me on my toes. Even if it’s a super long ride, then we go easy for a couple of hours then it’s a few hours of hard stuff.
Mix up your Ironman bike training to get stronger
BRAD BROWN: Amy tell me about the importance of mixing things up. You say it keeps you on your toes. Is it a case of keeping you engaged and not getting bored? Or do you feel that your body responds better to mixing things up and mixing intensities up in your training?
AMY FARRELL: I think my body definitely responds more to mixing things up. I’ve always responded better to quality over quantity. Even as a high school kid so I think that’s important and it really helps keep me engaged.
BRAD BROWN: But in order to do an Ironman you still need to do the volume. How do you get that balance right of quality versus quantity? You still need to do the miles but obviously you don’t need to be doing 6 hour rides every second day.
Ironman bike training on quality versus quantity
AMY FARRELL: Yes. So one of the big things that my coach likes to do is send us out for a 50 or 60 mile ride outdoors and then we come indoors on the trainer and do another 2-and-a-half to 3 hours of quality work inside.
It’s more controlled and you can hit the watts and I think those workouts are kind of my favourite because it’s a mix of getting out and then by the time I get back my family’s around and I can get on my trainer and hit the watts.
BRAD BROWN: Tell me the importance of power in your training. Obviously you’re quite clued up on the numbers. Does it play a massive role?
Using technology can increase your Ironman bike performance
AMY FARRELL: Now I try not to freak out about my watts but I do love working with power. I was kind of a late adapter to technology in triathlon and I think it was about a year before my coach could get me to use a heart rate monitor.
It’s been about 3 years since I’ve been using a power meter and it’s just nice to see where heart rate and power match up. And I’ve been around long enough to know that if my watts are off but my heart rate is on, then I follow that or vice versa.
BRAD BROWN: Tell me about gear. What do you use power meter wise, what bike are you on, what helmet do you use? Tell me a little bit about your set up.
AMY FARRELL: I’m on a Liv Avow Advanced with Ultegra DI2. This is my first bike with DI2 and I think for a triathlete it’s an amazing investment. I love it.
Ironman bike setup is really important for optimum performance
I think fit on a bike is really important so I do check in with that with the bike shop that helps me out with my bike stuff. I think it’s a Liv Attack helmet that I use and I’ve just kept the stock wheels that came with the bike.
BRAD BROWN: And power meter wise, what power meter are you using?
AMY FARRELL: Stages Cycling.
BRAD BROWN: And indoor trainer wise, are you on anything special there?
AMY FARRELL: No, I have a hand-me-down trainer, it’s Travel Trac Fluid. I’m looking at it right now. I’ve never really looked at it.
BRAD BROWN: Often people get really sucked into the gear and yes, things do make a difference. But at the end of the day it’s about the legs and the body and what you put into it. It’s cool to have the good gear but if you’re not doing the work on that gear, it doesn’t really matter does it?
AMY FARRELL: No it really doesn’t. And you know it’s funny, I keep looking at Wahoo and different smart trainers and as long as I have a power meter or a heart rate monitor, I can get the work done just as well without breaking the bank.
Brad Brown is a 40 something age grouper that dreams of one day qualifying for and racing on the big island (He may have to outlive everyone in his age group though).
Morbidly obese in 2009, Brad clocked in at 165kgs (363lbs) at his heaviest.
He's subsequently lost a third of his body weight on the way to a half Ironman pb of 5:06 and a full Ironman pb of 12:21.
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