Today, The Kona Edge takes us back to Australia where Damien Coad shares his experiences of Ironman bike racing. Having recently started training with a Power meter he warns about learning to use it wisely without letting it dictate your Ironman bike experience.
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BRAD BROWN: Welcome back onto yet another edition of The Kona Edge. We head back to Australia to touch base with Damien Coad who is in Cairns. Damien, welcome back. Nice to chat.
You’ve admitted, your bike out of the 3 disciplines, not that it’s terrible but it is the weakest of the 3 and where you’re focusing most on, right now. What are some of the things that concern you about your bike right now?
Don’t blow your run by pushing hard on the bike
DAMIEN COAD: I don’t actually have a huge concern on the bike, I never get worried on the bike. Of the 3 disciplines it is the one that I enjoy the most. Enjoy the journey and never too worried where I’m placed on the bike. I see it as a bit of a launching pad for the run but, having said that, you can’t let yourself get too far behind. So, my concern is that I’m always within striking shot of anyone that I’m up against.
BRAD BROWN: Let’s talk about that because I think it’s quite interesting. I don’t want to use the word dilemma, but that’s what it is. For someone like yourself, you’ve got a good run. You might feel like you’re falling behind the guys that are ahead of you in the age group on the bike. And there’s a temptation to push too hard on the bike. Particularly when it’s not the strongest of your disciplines. But by pushing too hard on the bike, you’re going to blow your run.
Experience keeps you on the limit of your Ironman bike
How do you get that balance right of how hard you should be pushing? Being on the limit but not going over it so that you negatively impact the last leg.
DAMIEN COAD: Experience. The more Ironman triathlons I do, experience racing is telling me something at the end of every race. You can do the bike in each race but I always tend to think that I could have gone that little bit harder on the bike.
Slowly I think I’m getting there with learning more and more. I’ve only just started training with a Power meter this year, so, that’s one tool that I’m learning to use wisely. Without letting it dictate my entire ride. The experiences in the past have seen me finish strongly on the bike.
Use your Power metre wisely
My bike times are not the fastest in the field, but I know that my finish on the bike, and my finish on the run, allow me the knowledge to know that I can push that bit harder perhaps, in the next race.
BRAD BROWN: And it is experience. I’m just thinking of my own experiences and my own Ironman splits. The funny thing is, my worst Ironman bike split was followed by my marathon PR. I’ve never run faster in a marathon, in an Ironman or not, than in that race. For me, that’s a huge sign that if you don’t push yourself to the limit on the bike, you tend to be able to run quite well.
Common mistakes on your Ironman bike
I think a lot of people make that mistake. Do you see a lot of age groupers making that mistake? That they’re almost pushing it too far beyond where they should be pushing on the bike, as opposed to maybe just hanging back a bit more?
DAMIEN COAD: Yes, of course I do Brad, but I would never tell them.
BRAD BROWN: I’ll delete this part, we’ll edit it out. As far as workouts go, you live in Cairns so I’m presuming you don’t spend too much time on the indoor trainer, or do you? What are some of your favourite workouts?
DAMIEN COAD: You’ve raised a good point there. I did talk about having to focus a bit more on working on my strength on the bike. That has meant obviously doing a lot of hills and rides up in the rough we have here on the plains of Cairns, which is a luxury to have close by.
Wind trainer and power meter gauge consistency on the bike
But certainly, the wind trainer, we’ve had a lot of wet weather this month in Cairns so I have been stuck. I’ve just upgraded, or crossed over, to another bike brand and you never want to get your new bike wet. So I’ve done a lot of training on the wind trainer. And I think a combination of the wind trainer and using the Power meter to help gauge things in a consistent manner. They’re my main tools of the trade.
A lot of hill work and I’ve got some sets that I’ve been doing and monitoring since my last Ironman race. Just consistency and steady, slow improvements Brad. Then just making sure that I’m able to convert that in a race scenario.
BRAD BROWN: Has the introduction of Power had a huge impact?
DAMIEN COAD: I’ve only done Ironman New Zealand with the Power meter. I promised myself that I wouldn’t take much notice of it. But because it was so windy on that course, you couldn’t help but use that to measure your input. You might think you’re flying along with the wind and then you look at your Power meter and think well, I’m really not putting in the effort that I should be.
Relate Power figures to the feel on your Ironman bike
Coming back into the wind, it was very helpful in telling me whether I was spending too much energy. With the help of the meter I actually did manage to do a negative split. I don’t know whether I would have otherwise. Having said all that, I think the most important, biggest gain for me on the bike, is my long rides tend to be solo. I can always relate my Power figures with feel and not let the distraction of other riders distract me from trying to get that feel in my legs. And trying to associate that with particular figures on the meter. So, feel is most important.
BRAD BROWN: Do you wish you had got onto Power earlier, or are you quite comfortable with the progression?
Know how you should feel in your Ironman bike race
DAMIEN COAD: I’m quite comfortable with the progression there, Brad. At the end of the day you need to learn initially what feels good for you and your perception of effort. Learning about your perception of effort is the best thing to learn about. Then learning how to use a Power meter and combining them has helped me. So, I’ve been happy with the progression.
BRAD BROWN: I think that’s great advice. Damien, thanks for your time here on The Kona Edge. Much appreciated. We look forward to catching up to talk about your run next time out.
DAMIEN COAD: Thank you Brad. Cheers.
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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