Hayden Armstrong joins us today on The Kona Edge and shares how riding the long stuff and doing hill climbs put you into the hurt box.
Hayden also reveals the best workouts to toughen up your mental strength on your Ironman bike.
BRAD BROWN: Let’s chat some Ironman cycling now and we head back to Tasmania now to catch up with Hayden Armstrong. Hayden welcome back onto The Kona Edge.
Your bike is your strongest of the 3 disciplines. You’re a monster on the bike mate.
Making up time on your Ironman bike
HAYDEN ARMSTRONG: Thank you. I really enjoy it. My favourite aspect of triathlon is definitely being out on the bike and it’s where I can make up a lot of time. But if you get it wrong, it’s where you will lose a lot of time as well.
BRAD BROWN: By the sounds of it you like dishing out some pain on the bike as well. That is, you like putting some people in the hurt box.
HAYDEN ARMSTRONG: Oh absolutely, especially in 70.3 racing. It’s all about going on the rivet and pushing at big gear and seeing if they will go with you. I’m a massive fan of Sebastian Kienle and also his saying; if it’s hurting me it’s killing them. That sticks in my mind a lot. I love the bike.
It takes consistency to build a strong Ironman bike
BRAD BROWN: What’s the key to a really strong Ironman or half Ironman bike?
HAYDEN ARMSTRONG: I think that the key is being consistent on the bike and hitting the right numbers on the bike. But it’s also making sure that you drink enough and that you eat enough on the bike and the preparation coming into your race.
Looking at the course that you’re going to be racing and making sure if it’s a strength course or if it’s a hill course. That you’re practicing your technical side of things on climbing and you’re practicing your descending. And also you’re hitting it hard on the flats.
But for me it’s making sure I can hit it as hard as I can but also making sure that I haven’t actually busted myself and I’m out of energy before I hit the run.
BRAD BROWN: From a percentage perspective, how much would you say you do outdoors as opposed to on an indoor, the rollers or an indoor trainer?
Don’t underestimate the power of the wind trainer
HAYDEN ARMSTRONG: I think 70% would be on the road. I love being on the road and I love being outside. I like the conditions of the roads. We’re really lucky in Tassie that there’s not a lot of traffic and that we can go and have some great rides with some big hills, good climbing.
That’s where I think I get my strength from but don’t ever underestimate the power of the wind trainer. I’m a big fan of it but I’m a really simple person on the wind trainer. There’s no music, there’s just me and the wind trainer. And looking at my cadence and seeing what I can do over the course of 2 hours.
BRAD BROWN: Why is that?
HAYDEN ARMSTRONG: Mental toughness.
BRAD BROWN: Pure and simple. Nothing else?
Wind trainer toughens up mental strength on your Ironman bike
HAYDEN ARMSTRONG: Pure and simple. If you can sit on a wind trainer for 2 hours and spin away on a set without having any music or anything. You’re thinking about how you’re feeling and you can collect your thoughts. But I think for me sitting on a wind trainer is just mental toughness.
BRAD BROWN: Knowing that you can get off at any time.
HAYDEN ARMSTRONG: Yes, pretty much.
BRAD BROWN: I love that. And it’s often I chat to age groupers and some are in the same camp as yours but others, they want to switch off. They’ll sit and watch Netflix or whatever it is to keep themselves occupied. But you’re on the other end of the extreme.
Extreme mental preparation for your Ironman bike
HAYDEN ARMSTRONG: I don’t confess that there’s a right answer. But for me, if I want to make sure that I’m mentally prepared and mentally tough, just go and sit in the garage on your wind trainer or your rollers. Your thoughts will unfold as you go along. It does drag you out sometimes.
BRAD BROWN: Tell me what your favourite workout is. When it pops up on your training program from your coach and you go, “yes, I get to do that again”.
HAYDEN ARMSTRONG: Probably for me it’s the long ride with some efforts. Some hill repeats or hill efforts in it or an Ironman preparation build. Where you’re out there for 6 or 7 hours and then you might have 2 reps at 60-minutes at Ironman or 70.3 pace.
Get in the hurt locker on your long Ironman bike rides
I just love being out there doing the long miles. The kind of roads and stuff that we have to ride down here are pretty amazing. So if you can get out on a good sunny day and go and have your training set that you’re doing, the feeling when you get back is yip, I’m in the hurt locker but things are really good. I like the long stuff.
BRAD BROWN: From a gear and gadget perspective, what bike are you on, what wheels are you using? Tools, power meter, that sort of thing. What are you using?
HAYDEN ARMSTRONG: I’m pretty fortunate to have some great support from the bike store. I’ve been a Trek man all my life, last name is Armstrong but I’m drug free. I’m on the Trek Speed Concept. I run Bontrager 900, 7 or 9 on the front, go with the tubeless and I run a Zipp sub 9 on the back. And then DI2 Shimano. No power meter for me. It’s all by feel.
BRAD BROWN: Really? Not at all?
HAYDEN ARMSTRONG: No.
No heart rate monitor and no power meter for your Ironman bike
BRAD BROWN: Interesting decision, or interesting choice. I’m not knocking it; I just know how highly some people speak of it.
HAYDEN ARMSTRONG: Someone told me to get a power meter and one day I might go to a power meter. But I think I’m a big believer in knowing how you’re feeling. Some pros ride with power meter. I think there are specific reasons why they do that.
From an age group level, some people are riding power meters and they say that’s for maximum threshold. If you don’t get out there and give it your best shot, then you get off the bike and you think I could have ridden a bit more power than what I had.
So, I’m no heart rate monitor, purely cadence and looking at hitting that number that I want, and eating and drinking as best as I can.
BRAD BROWN: Talk to me about the cadence numbers. What are you chasing, what’s the sort of goal? How do you work on that?
Put the hurt in on your Ironman bike climbs
HAYDEN ARMSTRONG: Sitting on the flats around 85 or 90 so I’m turning it over. I’m not a grinder. I’ll try and spin it as best I can. Certainly on the climbs you will be having that tempo cadence climb. The more obviously you’re turning your legs over. I just don’t want to fatigue the muscles too much when it comes to the run.
I think there’s lots of different styles out there but we’ve honed in my style and certainly for 70.3 racing the cadence is up and the power is on. But sometimes if I’ve got to push a big gear to get away, then I’ll push a big gear to get away. My strength is probably around the hills where I can put a bit of hurt into a few people.
BRAD BROWN: Brilliant. Hayden as always, great to catch up. Let’s chat about your run next time out. Thanks for your time today mate.
HAYDEN ARMSTRONG: Alright, thank you.
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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