On this edition of The Kona Edge we chat to Joe Duckworth once again and find out what he did to improve on his Ironman bike. Not being the strongest of the 3 disciplines, Joe enlists one piece of equipment that challenges you mentally almost as much as it does physically.
BRAD BROWN: Welcome back onto this edition of The Kona Edge, it’s good to have you with us and it’s time to talk some biking and we head to Lancashire in the UK once again and we’re joined by Joe Duckworth.
Joe, welcome back, nice to touch base once again.
JOE DUCKWORTH: Yeah, thanks very much, lovely to be here.
BRAD BROWN: Joe, let’s talk about cycling and for most people the bike is the longest of the three disciplines, how would you rate your bike compared to the other two?
JOE DUCKWORTH: It’s my second best discipline, running being my first best. I do enjoy the bike, I enjoy the training. I suffer quite a bit on it, but yeah, again, it’s all about not over-eating on the bike to set up a good run for myself, so yeah, I love it, I love the bike.
BRAD BROWN: You spend a fair amount of time on the turbo, the indoor trainer as well, just because of weather conditions through the winter, is that something you enjoy? Do you find it helps to sort of make you, not just physically tougher, but mentally tougher as well?
JOE DUCKWORTH: Yeah, there’s no breaks on the turbo is there? You’re never going to freewheel! Yeah, it can definitely be mentally challenging more than physically for myself. I don’t push massive wattage, I’m not the biggest of cyclists, legs-wise, but yeah, I do enjoy the turbo sessions and again, Ian my coach sets me some absolutely horrific ones, definitely character building, definitely!
BRAD BROWN: And those are the tough ones, the tough ones are the ones you enjoy the most don’t you?
JOE DUCKWORTH: Yeah, well, I won’t say I enjoy the most, but if you’re gaining from it and it’s putting you in the right place, then that’s fantastic. My latest buy was a watt meter, just before Lanzarote in 2015 and that’s transformed my cycling completely. I have one on my training bike and my racing bike and it’s just changed the way I cycle 100%.
BRAD BROWN: I was going to ask you, is there one thing you’ve done over your triathlon career that’s made the biggest impact on your bike. Would you say it’s getting a Power meter?
JOE DUCKWORTH: Yeah, I mean Ian was the first one that was a big impact and then he just pestered me for two years to get a watt meter and I kept putting it off and putting it off cause of cost and saying, yeah, yeah, whatever, and maybe not being as diligent as I should have been with it. Now, as I’ve got one, well, I just don’t train without it. It gives me so many facts and figures. More importantly, it gives Ian all the facts and figures he needs to change my sessions and stuff. Having a thing to work off, like functional threshold is superb. You see the real gains, brilliant piece of equipment.
BRAD BROWN: Do you race with it as well and do you stick religiously to it or do you race to feel?
Define your race technique
JOE DUCKWORTH: It’s funny you say that. The first time I raced with it was Lanzarote last year and I actually thought, and I could be wrong, but I thought, having not raced or training with it very long, I did a couple of small races with it and I had a prescribed output of like, if I could have it 220 watts for the whole race, thereabouts, I wouldn’t be too bad.
Actually, I think, really what I should on a couple of the climbs, I should have maybe gone off feel, cause I came in in real good shape. Probably too good shape and I know you try and come in in good shape for a run, but I was in too good shape. But having said that, if I’d have pushed them out to 10-12 watts, whatever, maybe the run wouldn’t have been, my run was really strong at Lanzarote, so maybe that wouldn’t have been the case.
I do trust it, yeah, I do race off feel a little bit, especially on the climbs, but I find it really handy when you’ve got head winds and stuff and you see people just pushing, pushing, pushing through the head winds and you look at your watt meter and you’re pushing way too many watts and you can just ease off them and I think that sets you up more than anything, the head winds.
BRAD BROWN: Looking at specific workouts on the bike, is there one particular workout that you love doing?
JOE DUCKWORTH: I mean what I found has probably done the most good has been the, on my long bikes now, Ian has been doing, it’s about every hour, a matter of 20 minutes, just above race pace, Ironman race pace on the watts. So, I find them quite well, just under the race pace, nice to stay there, having 20 minutes where I push maybe 10-15 watts above it and just pushing that little bit extra. Not so much into red, but going well into zone three and then easing back and then just trying to maintain that for four hours.
So over the four hours you might have 4 x 20 minute sessions where you have to push that a little bit harder and I find that’s kept me quite well. Also we do under and overs on the turbo. So you’ll ride at your functional threshold and maybe go up 10 watts above it and then for a minute. And then come 10 watts below it for a minute but you’ll play around that functional threshold for a period of time.
That’s my favorite turbo and the long ride outdoors with the 20 minute intervals is my favorite one outside.
Don’t get drawn into riding junk miles
BRAD BROWN: The first time we spoke you made a throwaway comment about junk miles, was that something you did a lot of when you first started, before you got Ian coaching you? Did you find that you rode just for the sake of riding, there wasn’t actually outcomes to specific workouts?
JOE DUCKWORTH: Yeah, definitely, absolutely! You know what, if I have to give one bit of advice to anybody, and I’m not one for giving out advice, I’m not an expert. I’m an age group with a bit of knowledge, but you just haven’t got time for the junk miles. As I always look at it, when I talk to people, they ask me a few questions about stuff. If they ask me why are you doing this session, what’s the aim of your session, whatever it may be and if they don’t know, that’s a question of why are you doing it then.
If you’ve no idea why you’re doing a session or you don’t know what it’s doing for you or what adaptation you’re trying to gain, or strengthen. Is it about VO2 max what you’re doing, if they don’t have an answer, it’s the question of, well why are you doing it and I found, before I got a coach, I was doing a lot of that. I was just going out riding for the sake of riding. I’d get 60 miles in, whatever, no real pace setting, no heart rate setting, no terrain, is it going to be hilly or flat, whatever.
So yeah, you’ve got to make every minute count really, cause we don’t have a lot of time as age groupers, so you’ve got to be specific.
BRAD BROWN: Joe, I love that, I think we can leave it there on the bike, I think that is huge. I think a lot of age groupers and triathletes make that mistake, particularly when they first get started, they think it’s all about time on the bike or time on the legs with the run. A lot of times, not less is more, but you need to make those sessions really count.
JOE DUCKWORTH: Absolutely, absolutely!
BRAD BROWN: Brilliant stuff, Joe, looking forward to catching up next time about your run, it is your best discipline and I want to find out what you love doing there, but we’ll save that for next time, cheers mate.
JOE DUCKWORTH: Look forward to it, bye.