Keeping triathlon in the family - Ben Rudson's Ironman Kona Story
Keeping triathlon in the family - Ben Rudson's Ironman Kona Story

Keeping triathlon in the family – Ben Rudson’s Ironman Kona Story

Keeping triathlon in the family - Ben Rudson's Ironman Kona Story

Ben Rudson joins us today from freezing Canada to shares his Ironman journey. Ben reveals why it’s important to respect the Ironman distance and also how to deal with failure.

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Transcription:

BRAD BROWN: You’re listening to The Kona Edge. It’s great to have you with us. Thanks for joining me today and we head to Canada now to catch up with Ben Rudson who is about to hop on a plane, as we record this. To Florida for a training camp. Ben, welcome onto The Kona Edge. Thanks for joining us.

BEN RUDSON: Thanks for having me.

BRAD BROWN: Ben, it’s good to have you on. We were chatting before we started recording, minus 10 in Canada where you woke up this morning. No wonder you go to Florida. It’s not great for training at minus 10, is it?

Training in cold weather could serve you well later

BEN RUDSON: No, it’s a bit of a different experience. I think there is value training in cold weather but I’m looking forward to catching some sun down in Florida.

BRAD BROWN: Let’s take a step back and talk about how you got into the sport. Where did your triathlon journey start?

Stock up on inspiration meeting the pros

BEN RUDSON: My journey in triathlon has been an interesting story. When I was growing up, my dad used to do triathlon and some marathoning. Growing up I was exposed to the sport at a young age, when triathlon was getting into it’s ground roots in the sport scene.

So, my dad used to do it and watching the Ironman Kona coverage on TV was an annual occurrence in our house. My dad and I would be watching, and I knew all the pro triathletes at the time. Even got to meet Peter Reed and Lloyd Bowden.

Of course, talking to any keen triathlete, they probably talked about winning the Gold medal in Sydney in 2000. And obviously, that was an iconic moment and gets every Canadian thinking about triathlon and thinking about their future.

So, growing up, my dad raced in triathlons but eventually moved on from the sport. There was this period when I was growing up and my dad had no involvement in the sport.

I was playing volleyball and hockey. And eventually decided to go off to university, out at Queens University. It’s on the other side of the country here in Canada, out in Ontario. So, I entered Queens and I think as any university student in their first year away from home, your habits become a little unhealthy.

Do something better than the beach and beers

Started going to a lot of parties, and unhealthy food, and not a whole lot of exercise, as I’m sure many listeners can relate. I was fortunate enough to land a research job out of school for the summer. So, I thoroughly got to extend this fun period of my life. But it was in that summer where I’d go to work during the day and come home at night and didn’t have a lot going on. You’d drink a bit and hang out at the beach and that’s all fun and dandy. But I remember end of May looking back, and thinking this has been fun but I need to do something here. I have a lot of time. I could do something cool this summer and not blow it all away sitting at the beach drinking beers.

Kick start your Ironman career with a triathlon childhood

So, I knew I wanted to do something and growing up with triathlon being a big part of our household, and watching all those iconic events, it had always been in the back of my mind that I wanted to get into the sport. What a great opportunity it would be having [inaudible] Ontario for the whole summer at my disposal, and started to get into it.

So, first I started running. I wasn’t very good and I hated running growing up. I was not a fan of it. Still wasn’t much of a fan of it when I first started getting into the sport. I’d think, I’ll go run 5km, and 30-minutes or 35-minutes I’d be gasped out. I’m sure many people new to running can relate to that.

Persistency will improve your ability

But slowly and steady it started to get better and the idea of doing triathlon popped into my brain. I started going to the spin bike at the gym and plugging away there every day after work, and swimming every morning. I think that’s where I started swimming. I’d swim one length and be out of breath and could barely do it. And then slowly but surely, I’d go home and watch YouTube videos on how to swim properly. Go back to the pool the next morning and try to imitate it. So, slowly progress was being made and of course, like anyone new to the sport you want to start to race.

We’re fortunate enough in Kingston to have one of the oldest triathlons in Canada, the Cape Town Triathlon, so I had the idea to sign up for the Cape Town long course triathlon. It’s a bit of a unique distance. It’s 2km swim, 56km bike and a 15km run. So, kind of between an Olympic and a half Ironman. I began this whole pursuit in early June 2014 and this race was early August 2014. So about 2 months removed from trying not to drown in the pool, to swimming 2000m in the water of Lake Ontario was a bit of an adjustment.

The art of convincing Dad

I knew if I wanted to do this race I would need my dad’s bit of approval and more importantly, his equipment. He had a lot of equipment left over from his triathlon days and I knew I needed that in order to do this race. So, I went home back to Vancouver, I went about 3 weeks out from the race. I kept him up to date in the summer, he knew a little bit about me going to the gym and me starting to run again, but I’m not sure he understood the depth of it. And when I told him I was in this race, three weeks later back in Kingston that involved 2km swim, 56km bike and a 15km run, unsurprisingly he was not a huge fan of that idea. He had some choice words for me and really tried to discourage me from pursuing that.

Rightly so, it’s a bit of a big attempt for me, getting your first one. A lot of better opportunities to maybe get into the sport. But perhaps being stubborn, I wanted to do it and said alright, let me prove it to you. So, we went out to the lake and he hopped in a kayak and I started swimming, and it sure wasn’t pretty. But I got through a bit of a lake swim and he showed me some stuff on the bike, and perhaps hesitantly, he gave me a bitter approval and his gear to take back to Kingston. And sure enough, I completed the race.

Your first race can get you hooked

Probably still one of the toughest races today, mentally. There’s nothing like that first one. Especially starting in a long course race being so inexperienced. I got through it and I really got hooked there. It’s such a cool sport. You get to put so much time and effort into something every day, and you get to see your results show themselves on race day. It’s an addictive bug.

BRAD BROWN: What sort of distance racing did your dad do?

BEN RUDSON: My dad mostly did half Ironman’s in and around Vancouver Island. He always had a dream of doing Ironman. In fact, when I was little we went out and watched Ironman in Canada, in the early 2000. Back at that time, in order to sign up for Ironman Canada, you can camp out the night before to register. So, part of racing Ironman Canada is going out the day before and spectating so you can line up to register.

He went out and brought the whole family with him with the full intent of watching it and registering for the race. And got cold feet at the end and decided not to do it. So, he topped out at the half Ironman distance.

Influence your household with Ironman habits

BRAD BROWN: It’s interesting you say that because last week here on The Kona Edge I was chatting to Lisbeth Kenyon and she’s raced multiple Kona’s. 9 In total, and she’s got 3 kids. The oldest is a freshman in college and I asked her have they shown any interest in doing an Ironman. She said not yet. So, I said, it’s coming, because growing up in a family where someone is an athlete, I grew up in a family where my dad was an ultra marathoner and I think that’s what sucked me in. At the time, I didn’t want to do it, but I’m doing it now. It’s always interesting to see that.

BRAD BROWN: That first one, how did you go in it, from a results perspective? Did it go according to plan, better than planned?

BEN RUDSON: Obviously, goals A through Y, of that race were just to survive.

BRAD BROWN: Don’t die!

How long is too soon to race?

BEN RUDSON: Yes, don’t die was your average goal on that list. It worked well. I have some splits here, I swam about 2-minutes per 100, biked about 31km an hour and ran about 5:10 per kilometre. So, considering I came into the sport 2 months prior to that, it was a good improvement but I think I showed myself that I have a lot of opportunity to improve. But not a bad show for my first one.

BRAD BROWN: Absolutely. You mentioned you played some hockey growing up. I think most Canadian kids played hockey at some stage. Canadian kids were born with ice skates on their feet if I have to be honest. You also played volleyball. Were you any good? Did you have ability in those sports?

BEN RUDSON: I played competitive sports in both hockey and volleyball. Hockey, at community level, I represented my community on the travel team. And with volleyball I played for my high school and went to provincial championships.

Reclaim your athletic involvement in adulthood

So, I’ve always been athletically involved, and I think that was one of the driving factors for me to get into triathlon is that, when I got to university I didn’t have that competitiveness that I had every year growing up. I played any sport in the league at university without that athletic involvement at a varsity level. It’s tough. Sport was such a huge part of my life and I wanted to get back into it.

BRAD BROWN: As far as knowing that you had some ability in triathlon and you could possibly qualify for Kona, when did you realise you’re actually good at this?

The thrill of surprises on improvement

BEN RUDSON: It was a bit of a journey. A series of continually surprising myself. It was a series of fortunate events for me. After the Cape Town triathlon, I was fortunate enough to find out that my university has a varsity triathlon program. Which is unique, one of the only schools in Canada that has one. So, what was great about that was that I was able to train up and sneak onto the team as one of the last ultra roster member. And that was just such a great opportunity for involvement throughout the winter.

In 2015, in the spring, I ran a half marathon, on a whim, with one of the local running clubs. And with that I really surprised myself. I think going into the race I was looking at running a 1:40 or 1:45, based on my previous results. I ended up running a 1:26 half marathon which is quite speedy, and really surprised myself. It was a bit of a shocker. Like any person new to the sport who gets a good result, they just want to continue going.

Treat the full distance Ironman with respect

So, the logical signs at the point of my career was, well let’s do the full marathon. Ended up going into the full marathon a bit ignorant and not quite appreciating the severity of how intense it was. But then realised that I’d prepared hard and showed a lot of improvement and attempted the full marathon that May.

At the marathon, I went well, I got prepared well and unfortunately, I hit the wall hard at about 30km, and I was really suffering out there. And about 200m from the finish line I just collapsed. I was running along and suddenly everything went black. I just fell on the side of the road, and I was on the road for about an hour going in and out of consciousness while the paramedics were treating me.

When I was awake, I was just puking from pain. My legs were all seized up, I had no blood flow to any of my extremities. It was scary. Got sent over to the ER and was in ER for a couple of hours and eventually got released. At that point it was scary.

The reality of failure

Up until now my limited triathlon career had been good. Everything had been going positive, it was trending upwards. And here’s a moment I had to pay the price of failure. Coming out of that has been a defining moment for both my triathlon career and my personal life and I had two decisions to make. You can either look back on that saying I failed, it sucked, it just swallowed me, you can pity yourself. Or, you can look at it as a learning experience and what can you draw from that experience to help you going forward.

So, I had a lot of pressure to give up the sport and that I wasn’t cut out for it. At least I had this one experience that’s proven something. Maybe it’s time to hang it up and move onto something else. But that wasn’t really my mentality. Just as much as I didn’t heed my dad’s advice when he told me not to pursue that initial triathlon. So, I really had to manoeuvre motivation and had a chip on my shoulder and a personal vendetta to resolve.

There is always another race to attempt

At the end of that summer I raced my first half Ironman up in Muskoka and that was a fun experience. I finished that race 5:03, so it was a solid result. Still a bit far from that elite mark but showing signs of improvement and slowly getting better. I returned to Kingston Triathlon where I raced my first triathlon and bettered my mark by 30-minutes. So, we certainly can turn that page.
Then, in the fall I also had run a scot bank trial waterfront marathon up here in the Toronto area and I ran 2:55 after a huge training block and a lot of motivation. So, I think that was the big moment for me. And other people took note.

Following that race my buddy who I had trained with all summer, who is a member of the Queens Humid Bay, called me up. He’d previously been to Kona and he’d been a role model for me and helped me with the training and navigating endurance. He called me up and said me and my buddy are going to go for Kona this year. We want you to join us and join our program and all 3 of us get to Kona. I was bewildered.

Racing the Kona dream closer

After racing a 5:03 in Muskoka, that was a great time but that’s not going to cut it for Kona. You double that distance and you have to shave time off on both ends, that’s a tall order. Personally, I didn’t think I was cut out for it to get there that summer but he was a firm believer in me. Lastly, I had a couple of things in my personal life to work out and I could line up a job out where Brian and Jason lived. And using that, I got out there and got this flip kick in the pants when I started training with them and training with an elite group of athletes. That huge training block and being surrounded by all those strong athletes out there really made that Kona dream that much closer.

BRAD BROWN: That’s an incredible journey. And the decision to do that first full distance Ironman, that always takes a lot. It takes courage to sign up. You mentioned your dad who was there and was going to do it, and decided not to. For you mentally, was it a big decision to make?

How old is too young?

BEN RUDSON: No. As stubborn as I can be sometimes with my racing decision, I also like to think I’m a rational person. I knew that perhaps it wasn’t the smartest idea, to race Ironman at 21. It’s a young age. There’s not many athletes in it. If you look at the progression of some of the top Ironman athletes who start the short course, they build long. There was a lot of reasons to not do it.

But ultimately for me, being a student at university, this is a challenging time to do Ironman racing. In that I don’t have a ton of money to my name. I’m young, I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do. It’s tough on the body and takes time away from my studies. At the same time, it’s also a fantastic opportunity to do this kind of racing.

Frankly, because I don’t have any dependants. I don’t have a family, I don’t have a mortgage to pay and I can afford to take time off and do stuff. And get home from work and do training rides for 3 or 4 hours. And I have no one complaining that I’m not spending time with the kids or anything like that. As much as it’s a tough time in my life to do it, it’s also a great time. And frankly put, I’m graduating school this year and heading out into the work force and into my career. I didn’t want to miss that. I was going to enter a career and get on with life and I wasn’t going to have the time or energy to be able to do it. Then, to do an Ironman, and do an Ironman competitively, was always on.

Childhood goals come to fruition

My goal was, ever since I watched those races growing up, and although this time in my life may not be ideal for pursuing Ironman athletics, I think it could be one of my best opportunities with all the uncertainty going forward.

BRAD BROWN: Absolutely, and a lot of people will say you’re so lucky you don’t have those dependants, but you’re studying. And in saying that, it’s not that you’re doing a half degree. You’ve got a tough study schedule. Like you say, you’re graduating this year. Tell us a little about what you’re studying. It takes some work to do that, doesn’t it?

Mechanical Engineer or Mathematician for Ironman?

BEN RUDSON: I’m studying mathematics engineering here at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. It’s a bit of an interesting program in that it’s unique to my school. The best way I can describe it would be a combination of mechanical engineering and applied mathematics. While I don’t graduate two degrees, I’m very much qualified to be an applied mathematician, or a mechanical engineer, on graduation.

When you’re through two intense course loads of material in four years, it ends up translating into about six or seven, or eight in some cases, technical courses per semester. I think if there’s one take away, I don’t like to take the easy way in whatever I do. Although it’s been a challenging program, it’s also been incredibly rewarding.

Career path benefits Ironman racing and training

I’ve benefited in my triathlon career and I have that ability to have an analytical approach to my passions in the triathlon. And at the same time, I’m also able to handle adversity well. When you’re bouncing these tough seven or eight courses, you’re going to deal with adversity. You’re going to deal with times that are difficult and you’re going to have to step up to the plate and push through. That very much translates to racing and training.

BRAD BROWN: Benjamin, what’s the long-term goal? Not just from a triathlon perspective, but work and family life? What do you, over the next couple of years, still want to achieve in the sport?

What does the mirror say to you at night?

BEN RUDSON: At the end of the day, I really got into triathlon as a learning experience and to have fun. So, regardless of what I end up pursuing in triathlon, and in my career and personal life, I just want to make sure I can continually look in the mirror at night and say I had fun today.

Whether that involves pursuing triathlon more seriously, or whether it involves pursuing a career more seriously, or personal life, I want to be able to look in the mirror and enjoy what I’m doing. And I think any time we deviate from that it’s not sustainable. So, I can’t honestly pinpoint what my future is going to look like. But I can guarantee that hopefully, if everything goes well, I’ll be able to look in the mirror and be happy and be proud of what I’ve done.

BRAD BROWN: Absolutely. You mentioned doing a full distance Ironman at the age that you did, early 20’s. A lot of people would say that is too young and you shouldn’t be racing the long stuff then. Do you have any regrets that you maybe didn’t wait? Do you think you should have raced the shorter, faster ones for a bit longer before doing the longer, slower ones?

Gain the self-confidence to tackle anything

BEN RUDSON: That’s a tough question. I appreciate people’s criticism and critique of racing a long course at a young age. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. In my case, I think it’s tough to say whether it’s been a positive or negative. There’s merits to be made in both those cases. On the positive side, it’s great to be able to have it under your belt at 21 and have that self-confidence to know that you can tackle anything. But stealing an Ironman mantra, anything is possible. That’s very valuable.

Even if a decision to translate to shorter courses, just knowing that you have been there, done that, you have pounded away in those long races. I can take that to my racing and my personal life. It’s been very valuable for school and pursuing career opportunities. What a valuable asset. And I think very few people my age have been fortunate enough to have an experience like Ironman, and what it has done for me.

Think critically about Ironman before you get serious

On the other hand, of course, it’s a lot of high volume training and a lot of risk for injury. I’ve been fortunate enough to have mitigated many injuries and haven’t had to deal with serious injury yet, but it’s always a risk you take when you’re young in pursuing these opportunities. It’s a unique case. There’s positives and negatives to be drawn and I wouldn’t go out on record and say every 21-year-old should go and race Ironman. In fact, I encourage a lot of my friends who have interests in pursuing marathons and full Ironman’s, to think critically about it before they take it too seriously. Because there is immense sacrifice required and it does take a toll on your career. And it’s all about, based on your values, how you evaluate that and how you decide you want to pursue opportunities.

So, I think it’s a case by case basis and why I completely understand criticisms and critiques from people who may not agree with my decision to race long course at a young age. I have no regrets and I really have enjoyed my experience of long course racing. I think it has provided immense value to my triathlon career and my personal life.

BRAD BROWN: Let’s talk about Kona. You said growing up, and watching your dad racing, you had been exposed to watching it on TV. How surreal was it once you’d qualified and you land on the Big Island, and you’re there, at the big show? All the racing snakes around. It must be special.

Will a short build up benefit you at Kona?

BEN RUDSON: Oh yes. It was truly incredible. I was in a unique position where I qualified at Ironman Mont Tremblant, and Ironman Mont Tremblant is one of the final qualifiers for Kona. It’s only about 6-weeks out from Kona, so in some ways this was a blessing, in some ways this was a curse. In all other ways, I didn’t have time to overthink it. I finished Mont Tremblant, got home, got back to school. Three weeks later I packed my bag again and headed out to Kona.

On the other hand, I’m sure anyone can appreciate racing Ironman 6-weeks apart is a difficult endeavour, whilst managing to carry over that fitness. It also represents a tough challenge, it’s taken a toll on the body and the mind. It was a truly surreal experience.

Having grown up watching all those videos, I think of the summer watching clips every summer for me as I look forward to Mont Tremblant, visualising the race. So, I can’t even really describe it. Swimming at the pier, running along Alii Drive, it’s just such an incredible experience.

Visualise your race

BRAD BROWN: You mentioned that after your first triathlon, the bug had truly bitten and you were almost addicted to the sport. Having experienced Kona now, do you have the same feeling about the Big Island? Does it make you want to go back?

BEN RUDSON: Yes. Once you’re there it’s just such a cool place, and it’s just such a special place. It’s really like nothing else. In fact, I’d really like to go back even if I wasn’t racing.  Just to experience it all. I was kind of jealous, my parents came down with me which was great. I don’t get to spend a lot time with my parents as I live and go to school on the opposite side of the country. We had a week down there and it was just so cool to be able to drink it all in, experience it the whole week.

And I almost wish I could go back and experience that without the added stress or having to race on the Saturday, and just enjoy the whole week to the fullest. But I think anybody who has the opportunity to go, should take it. It’s truly and incredible race. I have the bug to go back, hopefully in a couple of years once I’ve experienced life a bit more. But I don’t have the inkling to go back this year, but in the future. So, I most definitely want to go back.

BRAD BROWN: You haven’t been involved in the sport for that long, but if you had to go back and start over, would you change anything? Would you do anything differently?

Is ignorance bliss?

BEN RUDSON: I’ve had that question a few times now and it’s always a funny answer because part of the reason I could ascend so rapidly in the sport was probably because of ignorance. I didn’t know any better and I made decisions by choosing races and training plans that probably wouldn’t be that advisable. Should probably not have taken up the long course so early. Two years in triathlon. I would not make it as a beginner now, but at the same time it paid off for me and I would not be where I am today, without having a bit of that experience and having a bit of blindness to that.

So, I think it’s a tough question. If I went back today, I would probably, with my knowledge now, I wouldn’t have made those decisions that I made and I probably wouldn’t have gone to Kona. I wouldn’t have been where I am today so, it’s that pathway to where ignorance is bliss sometimes.

Just do it

BRAD BROWN: It’s funny you say that because, I almost feel the same as well. I also jumped in and probably didn’t overthink things. You also don’t want to say to someone, this is what you should do and that’s what you shouldn’t do, but I often find that people overthink this thing. That you just want to jump in, just do it. Don’t sit at home and go what-if. Just do it. The only way you’re going to know is if you do it, and if you fail, so what? For me personally, I’d rather fail trying than wonder what if. I don’t know if you feel the same way.

BEN RUDSON: Especially with long course triathlon. While you do have to respect the distance, and putting the time in and putting the forethought in to talking the distance. You can sit on your computer all you want and look at training plans and build training plans. But at the end of the day, you’ve got to go out there and execute the training plan, and execute the practice and go out there and train.

Mistakes makes you wiser

Being self-coached and not having a coach until very recently, after Kona, and I didn’t really know what I was doing. I made a lot of mistakes in training. Countless. If I go back and analyse all the things I did, I wouldn’t have learned those mistakes without getting to where I am today and making those mistakes and building it from there.

So, while care and diligence should be appreciated in training, and obviously, we don’t want to get injured, we don’t want to make too many major mistakes. I think a lot of people tend to get crippled and paralysed, and get caught up in all the details. When oftentimes you just got to go out there and just do it. Get your long runs done, get your long rides done, get your tempo stuff in. Just get it done and Kona will do the talking.

BRAD BROWN: And I think the term Paralysis by Analysis is probably the best way to describe it. And I find it interesting because of what you’re studying. Engineering and applied maths, it’s very analytical. I would think you would have been more analytical jumping into it, but it hasn’t been that way. But you did get quite analytical with regards to your training. What were some of the things you did from a training perspective that you think have benefitted you. And researched and that sort of thing.

Don’t let paralysis by analysis strike you

BEN RUDSON: I think where my education really intersects my triathlon is that in math, if anyone listening in Australia with math, we don’t look for solutions necessarily. We look for reasons why solutions don’t work. We’re experts at proving a theory. We’re looking for when it fails, not so much when it works. So, I think that’s what has really benefitted me.

When I make decisions and when I go to these races and infiltrate plans, I analyse my work. I look for my potential weaknesses and defaults and I think that’s what I’ve found. Making mistakes is ok, especially at the time. You handle the information and take the best course of action at the time.

If I look back at the marathon when I had that collapse and that health scare, in hindsight I have no regrets about that race. Given my knowledge at the time and the research that I’d done, I’d made all the right decisions based on my reference at that point. Obviously, it didn’t pan out and I learned from that. But going forward, I would know better.

Hindsight is 20/20

But at the time one could get caught up in current knowledge dictating previous knowledge. Hindsight is 20/20. So, I think it’s important to apply that to my training regime today.

BRAD BROWN: Benjamin, what’s the long-term goal? Not just from a triathlon perspective but work and family life. What do you, over the next couple of years, still want to achieve in the sport?

BEN RUDSON: I really got into triathlon as a learning experience and to have fun. So, regardless of what I end up pursuing in triathlon, and in my career and personal life, I just want to make sure I can continually look in the mirror at night and say I had fun today.

Whether that involves pursuing triathlon more seriously, or whether it involves pursuing a career more seriously, or personal life. I want to be able to look in the mirror and enjoy what I’m doing.

Build on your library of past mistakes

And I think any time we deviate from that it’s not sustainable. So, I can’t honestly pinpoint what my future is going to look like. But I can guarantee that hopefully, if everything goes well, I’ll be able to look in the mirror and be happy and be proud of what I’ve done.

I have a nice library of past mistakes that I can refer to and understand what works and what doesn’t. And of course, I take all precautions and all advantage of the information out there to help build my goal and build my plan going forward. But at the same time as I mentioned before, paralysis by analysis, you don’t want to get too caught up in it. Learn from others mistakes, learn from your own mistakes. But don’t be afraid to go out there and cheer.

Keeping behaviours consistent

So, the training plan of being a self-coached athlete was a unique experience. I was fortunate enough to achieve a lot of success through it and I think what it came down to is consistency. A lot of athletes, if you take a critical analysis of yourself, behaviours aren’t consistent. Even when I thought I was consistent, if you look at the logs, there’s many days and many weeks where, maybe your cycling mileage fluctuates a lot or you miss a key workout. What’s important is that consistency is key and just getting those race specific workouts in.

I’m a big believer in the mental training. That’s why in the beginning I mentioned cold weather isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes I’m out running and it’s early winter when it’s minus 35, blowing snow in your face and everything hurts. If you can bank those memories and bank those feelings, even though you’re not going to be racing in minus 35. If I can go out there and plug away 10km in freezing, icy snow, when I get to that last 10km of an Ironman I just think back to those sessions when I was freezing, literally, I say hey, if I could do 10k then I can do 10k now. So, I think it’s important to have those mental aspects. That’s what differentiates my training from some others.

Every workout has a purpose

BRAD BROWN: You also mentioned something a while ago, just almost a bit of a throw away comment. But the visualisation, that plays a big part of what you do. Tell us a little bit about your thinking behind visualising where you’re going to be and what you’re doing.

BEN RUDSON: It plays a critical role. When going through training, whether with a coach or whether being self-coached, every workout has a purpose. That purpose might be a very specific workout where it is very characterised and very explicit. Or, could be a simple recovery run. But it’s important to treat everyone with the same appreciation and understand where it fits in the bigger picture. Visualisation plays a huge role in my training and it’s important. Especially with long course. I like to joke, it’s 90% mental. When you are out there, once you are physically prepared just got to gear your mind to the fact that you can do this and you can accomplish this.

Benefit workouts with good form and proper techniques

So, having visualisation in training, be it with racing simulations, or in your run thinking about how to recover. Or keeping a good form and building those good, proper techniques, is incredibly invaluable. And I think all athletes will benefit by incorporating more of it into their workouts.

BRAD BROWN: Absolutely. I remember and I still do it now, but my first couple, that’s what got me through. Particularly when you’re not aware of where you’re going. I think the visualisation is such an important part. And knowing that you’re going to go through some tough patches and thinking your way out of that is such a great strategy as well.

BRAD BROWN: Benjamin, your schedule for 2017, what’s the plan from a racing perspective over the next year?

BEN RUDSON: It’s a unique part of my life and I’m graduating school. I’ll be starting work full time in September so, it’s a bit in limbo right now. I’m fortunate enough to be able to have this summer off so, probably do a little bit of travelling but also a lot of considerable research in training. So, in a bit of a limbo. What I can say is I will probably be focusing more on short course.

Improve your Ironman skills by racing more

After the strong performances in long course racing, I realised there is possibilities that there is a future in this sport from maybe a higher level. I really want to drop down to some short course stuff and put the time in on the short course race, and hone in my skills and just build more familiarity at racing. I think Kona was only my 6th or 7th triathlon of all time.

I’m still very new. My transition sucks. There is a lot to be improved just by racing more and racing good calibre athletes out here in Ontario. So, I’m going to drop down to some short course stuff. Try and dwell on that top end speed and hopefully transition back onto long course in a couple of years, with renewed motivation.

BRAD BROWN: That sounds brilliant. Benjamin, thank you so much for joining us on this edition of The Kona Edge. I look forward to getting you back on to talk a little bit about the individual disciplines. We’ll save that for another day. Thanks for your time today.

BEN RUDSON: Thanks for having me.

About Us

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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