On this episode of The Kona Edge we catch up with Lucy Charles who tells us how she managed to go from not being able to ride a bike to winning her age group in Kona.
BRAD BROWN: Welcome to this edition of The Kona Edge, time to chat some biking and we’ve got a returning guest onto the podcast today. She is a phenomenal athlete, won her age group at Ironman World Championships in Kona in 2015, Lucy Charles, welcome back, nice to have you on.
LUCY CHARLES: Thank you, good to be back again.
From beginner to Winner in her Ironman bike
BRAD BROWN: Lucy, when we first spoke you said to me that the bike was probably the discipline you had to work the hardest on and often when people do focus on one discipline, they spend lots of time, but they get lots of good results.
Would you say that the bike is the discipline that you’ve improved the most in your triathlon career?
LUCY CHARLES: Yeah, most definitely. I’ve gone from barely being able to ride a bike, many members of my cycling club can definitely vouch for that. There was a lot of laughter when I couldn’t even unclip from my pedal and I fell off many times, so I’ve come a long way since then.
I’ve had to put in a lot of miles and a lot of perseverance with the bike, but I’d say the progress has been absolutely massive on it.
BRAD BROWN: Can you pinpoint to a couple of things, maybe one, two or three things that you’ve done that have made a massive difference to your performance on the bike?
LUCY CHARLES: I’ve always tried to go for the ride with riders that are slightly better than me, if not quite a bit better than me and do chain gang style riding, so always trying to get on that front wheel and taking it in turns, normally with the male riders at the club, as they are stronger and that really, really has pushed me on.
I’ve also got a Wattbike that I use, I do a huge amount of my training from that and I do like to analyse the numbers and see how my power is progressing, so you can really see the improvements. Those two things have been a big help.
BRAD BROWN: Let’s touch on the Power side of things. It’s interesting you bring that up. I obviously chat to a lot of age groupers and have over the last few years and there has been a big shift towards Power, but of late I’m finding more and more of them are moving away from Power and not really digging too much into it, but sticking more to feel and I had a pretty long chat not so long ago with Timothy O’Donnell who had the second fastest bike split in Kona and he’s literally moved totally away from Power.
Do you think that sometimes we over analyze the numbers and forget what it feels like, what our bodies should be feeling and how they are feeling during a race or during training?
LUCY CHARLES: I think you can definitely dig too much into it. I mean certainly I have days where I know myself I’m tired and then I’m not hitting the numbers and it can be quite frustrating and then sometimes I do wish actually, I wish I just couldn’t see it today, I know I’m doing the best I can today, I am tired and I’m going to train through, so yeah, there definitely could be some things in not using Power at times. Yeah, I couldn’t argue with that.
BRAD BROWN: As far as where you live in London, the weather is not always conducive to getting out and being on the road, do you do most of your stuff outdoors or do you do most of it on, like you say, on the Wattbike?
LUCY CHARLES: Yeah, I do a huge amount inside really on the Wattbike or do at least three sessions on that a week, if I can’t get outside.
I much prefer getting out on the road, but obviously where we are is fairly busy, but we’re not too far away from getting into the countryside and doing some nice rides out there.
Even in the summer we do get some crappy weather sometimes, but as soon as it is a nice day, I’ll be straight out and make the most of it.
How much time in the saddle to get you to Kona?
BRAD BROWN: The importance of time in the saddle?
LUCY CHARLES: Yeah, not always though. I do at least one long ride a week, but the rest of it is actually quite high intensity which might surprise some people. Obviously Ironman is long distance, but I do do quite a lot of really tough, high intensity sessions as well.
BRAD BROWN: Brilliant. Lucy, thank you so much for joining us once again here on The Kona Edge, much appreciated. Before I let you go, your favourite bike workout, what’s one set that you love doing on the bike?
LUCY CHARLES: So, my favourite session on the Wattbike is, I call it the ‘devil session’ it’s absolutely horrendous, but it’s basically 30 lots of one minute at absolute max with one minute recovery and although I dread it every time beforehand, I love it when I’ve got to the end.
BRAD BROWN: I love it, I’m going to give that a bash, it sounds like you might end up throwing up in your mouth, but it sounds like a lot of fun!
LUCY CHARLES: It’s great fun, I can assure you.
BRAD BROWN: Lucy Charles, thank you so much once again, we look forward to catching up again here on The Kona Edge.
LUCY CHARLES: Thank you very much Brad, thank you.