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BRAD BROWN: Let’s chat some Ironman biking now. James Burke returns.
James welcome back onto The Kona Edge. Thanks for joining us.
JAMES BURKE: Thanks for having me back.
BRAD BROWN: James out of the 3 disciplines you said the bike is probably your weakest of the 3. Your bike is pretty decent. You went sub 5 in Kona in 2016 but it is the area you feel you can still make big gains on at this stage in your Ironman career. Would you say that’s a fair summary of your bike right now?
Is time forcing your Ironman bike training indoors?
JAMES BURKE: Yes, absolutely. It was the discipline that I was least familiar with when I got into triathlon. Just by the simple nature of I haven’t been doing it for very long. Really put a focus on it and then building strength and technique and being aero and all those other things that come with a good bike split, have been a focus.
BRAD BROWN: Do you think that’s just a function of time in the saddle and spending lots of time riding your bike over a prolonged period of time?
JAMES BURKE: Yes I think so. I think the reality of any endurance sport is the longer you do it probably the more strength you get. The difference I would say is that I don’t have the time that I used to have where I could go out for a 5 hour ride every week. I’ve been toying with and doing shorter, high intensity workouts. I don’t know if that’s better or worse, but it’s the reality that I have to live as a time crunched triathlete.
BRAD BROWN: You mentioned in our first chat about when you first started. 3 Kids below the age of 8. It’s at a point now, where you were spending 90% of your bike on the roads outside, you are now doing 90% on the indoor trainer.
And some of the tools that you’ve come across and using on that indoor trainer. Tell us a little bit about your set up from an indoor perspective and what you’re using.
Indoor trainer with huge advantages to your Ironman bike
JAMES BURKE: Prior to the revolution of indoor training software, I couldn’t stand the bike trainer. But I got a nice setup with a Wahoo Kickr tied to a Zwift. I use Zwift, the software program, and I find it’s very engaging. It allows me to pass the time and there’s variability enough where there’s training and free riding. And also racing that, depending on the day and what I’m trying to accomplish, gives me a pretty good ride.
BRAD BROWN: That’s probably one of the things that’s turned me off over time with the indoor trainers as well. The thought of sitting on an indoor trainer for 5 hours, I can’t think of anything worse. But when you’ve got something like the Wahoo and Zwift it does mix things up and allow you to keep the interest there that you’re not just literally pedalling for 5 hours.
JAMES BURKE: Yes, absolutely. I used to hear stories of people that would get on and they would watch 2 movies. And I would think there could be nothing worse than a training session of sitting on a trainer for 4 hours. The reality for me is I would say a long training ride is an hour and a half, maybe 2 hours.
So I’m not spending big chunks of time but I’m trying to do higher intensity work and fitting it into our lifestyle. But definitely the variability of particularly Zwift because that’s what I’m familiar with, is helping that.
Do short, high intensity workouts have greater gains on your Ironman bike?
BRAD BROWN: I find it interesting you say an hour and a half, that’s it. That has obviously changed a lot from when you first got into the sport. And the intensity on those sessions I’m guessing is a lot higher than the longer stuff you would have done when you first started. Do you think doing the shorter, higher intensity stuff is serving you better than the longer, slower stuff?
JAMES BURKE: I think it might. The reality is on an Ironman event, the longer time you get in the saddle, probably the better. For me, it’s just not my reality. But then if I look back into my training logs, I look at what I was doing 3 or 4 years ago. I was doing long rides but they were pretty casual, for the lack of a better term.
So, I think physiologically I’m probably not the expert to be able to answer that question. But the reality is I feel the same level of fatigue, if not more, on a short, higher intensity workout than I do on a long, slow, slog.
Virtual racing on your Ironman bike
BRAD BROWN: That’s interesting. As far as workouts go, what do you love? What is your ultimate best? If you look at your training program and you go “Yip, I get to do that again, that’s cool”?
JAMES BURKE: If you were to have asked me this a year ago I would have told you the Zwift workouts. There’s a handful of them that Zwift has canned and that I really enjoyed from a higher intensity perspective. But I stumbled upon the Zwift Racing and that’s relatively new for me within the last 3 months. This is where you’re racing other Zwifters at point’s time. I’m hooked on that. In fact I’m probably over training as a function of that so I need to dial back in.
The enjoyment of a suffering festival on your Ironman bike
BRAD BROWN: It sounds like Strava on another level.
JAMES BURKE: Yes, it is. It’s this all out suffer fest that’s like a video game for exercise junkies.
BRAD BROWN: It sounds amazing; I’m going to have to check that out. Or maybe I shouldn’t. I’ve got a bit of an addictive personality. I might be in all sorts of trouble.
James, as always great to catch up. Thanks for your time on this edition of The Kona Edge. I look forward to chatting about your run next time out.
JAMES BURKE: Appreciate it. Good talking to 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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