On this edition of The Kona Edge we head back to the United Kingdom to touch base with Ironman  Kona finisher Mark Livesey. Mark shares his thoughts today on what it takes to improve your Ironman bike when you don’t come from a cycling background.


BRAD BROWN: Welcome onto this edition of The Kona Edge, it’s great to have you with us and we head back to the UK once again, we’re going to chat some cycling today with a returning guest, Mark Livesey, welcome Mark, thanks for joining us today, it’s good to have you on, welcome back.

MARK LIVESEY: No thanks again for having me back, great to chat to you.

BRAD BROWN: Mark, let’s talk biking, you’re pretty decent on the bike, as far as the disciplines go, you say you’re pretty even on all three, but your bike is really good. Let’s take a look at some of the gains you’ve made and what you attribute them to. Over your triathlon career, can you pinpoint one thing you’ve done on the bike that’s made a huge difference to your performance?

MARK LIVESEY: I think with cycling, I was never a cyclist, it takes a little bit of time to develop that foundation of strength, bike specific strength, it takes a number of years. I think it’s something you can’t rush. If you’re coming from a really good running background, then there is a slight advantage, but cycling is cycling and you need to put a number of years into really being able to build from it. That’s certainly my experience and I think the other thing with riding, for me, is in North Yorkshire, the riding here, it’s probably one of the best places in the UK, if not Europe and the world, to ride a bike. I don’t know if you saw any footage on 2014 of the Tour de France, did you see any of that Brad, of the Tour in Yorkshire?

BRAD BROWN: I actually did, yes.

MARK LIVESEY: That’s where I live and I’m quite smug at the fact that actually the Tour came to ride where I lived and they were on my roads. We just had the Tour of Yorkshire this weekend as well, so where I live, there’s no hiding place where I ride. It’s tough riding and if I want to go for a ride and get out of the valley, I’ve got a 400m climb either way and the hills in Yorkshire, they’ll probably average 12-15%, but we have a lot of 20 percenters, we have a lot of 25 percenters. I’ve just done a ride today up a famous climb called Fleet Moss, it scares me every time I go up it and I could climb a hill, I’m pretty strong on the hills, but Fleet Moss is one of those hills that just hurts you. I think when you expose yourself to that kind of environment, I’m looking that my riding is essentially hill reps and interval sessions, to no choice, we don’t particularly get an easy ride, I think that’s what’s made me strong, riding, just riding the North Yorkshire roads really.

BRAD BROWN: Are you one for using gadgets? Do you go by feel or do you use heart rate Power? What do you use Mark?

MARK LIVESEY: It’s interesting, I don’t know if you know, but I’ve developed my own actual training platforms, but prior to, what I’ve seen with gadgets and when I’m coaching athletes is, they can be quite corrosive, they can undermine an athlete’s performance. They certainly have their uses and I use mine and I’ve got Power, I have my own Power data software, but I think too much focus and emphasis and reliance is based on them and people, athletes lose their trust in their own ability to ride a bike and actually that emotion and the environment you’re in, I think riders just sometimes forget to ride their bike. They’re too busy locked in on their Garmin and they actually forget the environment that they’re in, it’s as if they put blinkers up. The Power, cadence and heart rate and speed, that’s all great, but I think it’s dumbs down an athlete’s ability to trust their own perceived effort and feeling and emotion because in an Ironman you’ll have purple patches, it’s how you cope with those situations and sometimes if you’re looking down at your Power and it ain’t giving you the number that you expect, what are you going to do? You can’t go any faster cause you’re already going as fast as you can. It just undermines you, or it can do. Yeah, so I think, for me, for guys who want to try and really pinpoint and get a good Ironman time, is really lots of good quality riding and so when I’m prescribing rides for my athletes, I tend to go and do two, three, four hour rides, on the briefs it’ll be, if it’s not like a Power [inaudible 0.55.34] or anything like that, it will be, go out and ride for three hours and enjoy the ride, is what I tell them.

Go and ride your bike and enjoy the ride. They’re going out and they’re training, they’re riding, that’s it. They do a good three hour ride and a three hour ride is a three hour ride, same with four hours and five, they’re good rides. They’re stocking filler conditioning sessions and then I would just suggest that guys then do some classic interval training and work at improving speed over shorter distances and then over a period of time you can increase those distances and speed or Power or whatever and before you know it, you’re pushing times out that you wouldn’t dream of pushing out. I remember doing short course stuff and be happy breaking the hour, 25 miles and thinking, yeah, I’m riding well and then I’d look back at some of the rides I did in Austria and I was averaging 23.8 miles an hour and I think how did that happen? How could I ride that fast for 4 hours 40 or whatever it was, but when you look back at your training, everything is geared towards that sort of pace, that similar pace and before you know it, you can hold that time and Powering speed because you’ve been replicating it in your training.

BRAD BROWN: Absolutely, for you personally, what sort of workout do you absolutely love doing on the bike? What’s your favourite thing to do?

MARK LIVESEY: Caroline and I do, we do lot of brick sessions, I love brick sessions. I think athletes don’t do enough of them, personally. We have to drive, because we go to a flat area on the East side of Yorkshire, so it’s flat and it’s a 25 mile loop that we do and it’s always relatively windy, but we’ll drive out there, we’ll take all our kit, run kit, food etc and it’s a 25 mile loop and it’s pretty flat. We will do, throughout the season we will do a 75 mile brick where we’ll run 10-12 miles off it, one mile intervals or whatever, but the beauty with doing the looped course, one, you can compartmentalize it and break down each lap. You can stop at each lap, get to your car, get some gels, more fluid, this, that and the other and start again. It’s more manageable, psychologically, and plus it’s flat and it’s all left turns where we go and it’s a good indicator on your form and performance and it’s something you can replicate. That’s a session we like to do. It’s a tough session and we’ll do about 200 miles where we’ll do four loops and we’ll run 12 miles or 8 miles off it or whatever and you know you’ve done something then. So yeah, it’s trying to dial into your Ironman pace, which is different on every Ironman course, obviously with the terrain and the conditions and it’s having the ability to know and practice, actually, this is where I need to be. If I overcook it here, then a sniper is going to get me. You can only really do that by practicing. So that’s what we do, we try and practice the race environment.

BRAD BROWN: That’s exactly it, put yourself in those positions, the more often you do it, the better you’re going to be on race day. Mark, I think that’s great advice, thank you very much for that. Next time we get you on we’ll chat some running and find out what you do on the run so you don’t get done by a sniper, but we’ll save that for next time if that’s good?

MARK LIVESEY: Yeah sure, great stuff.

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