From a 6:50 bike split in his first Ironman to riding a 5:18 in Kona, we catch up with Reece Barclay on this episode of The Kona Edge to find out how he turned his weakest Ironman discipline into one of his strongest. Reece shares a few practical tips that you can implement right now, that will not only improve your performance on the bike, but will also cut down the amount of time you spend in the saddle.
BRAD BROWN: Welcome onto The Kona Edge. I’m Brad Brown and we’ve got a returning guest with us today all the way from London in the UK, Reece Barclay, Reece welcome onto the podcast once again. Thanks for joining us.
REECE BARCLAY: Hi Brad, no problem.
BRAD BROWN: Reece, last time we spoke we touched on swimming and what you’ve sort of done in the pool. Swimming was obviously your strongest of the three disciplines. You’ve admitted that the bike was probably the weakest but you’ve done a lot of hard work on it and it’s paying off.
REECE BARCLAY: Yeah certainly, yeah bike, without a doubt has been the most improved discipline from the start of my triathlon through till now so yeah, a lot of hard work but it’s been worth it.
BRAD BROWN: Just to give us an idea of how much it’s improved I mean your first Ironman, Ironman UK 2014, can you remember what your bike split was compared to your best bike split on an Ironman distance race now?
REECE BARCLAY: Yeah, so my first Ironman split was six hours 50 minutes and my best now is, well at Kona it’s obviously a different course but I did 5:18 at Kona so quite a big difference.
BRAD BROWN: That’s a huge improvement.
REECE BARCLAY: Well, I think the conditions are slightly different obviously but yeah that is a big improvement.
BRAD BROWN: Yeah true. What do you put it down to?
What changed in his training to improve his Ironman bike?
REECE BARCLAY: Consistently training and training smarter as well. If I’m not very good at something I want to know why I’m not very good and what I’m not doing that everyone else is doing and that inevitably led me into learning about Power meters and FTP and what should you be riding your Ironman Power at etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, so I sort of self-educated myself on that and yeah, very quickly saw some good results from using that kind of facilities.
BRAD BROWN: Would you say smarter as in finding those sort of things and reading those numbers as opposed to just going out and training for the sake of spending time in the saddle?
REECE BARCLAY: Yeah, so I’ve eventually decided that well, every time I want to go out on the bike or if I’m on the Turbo I want to have purpose at the session. When I first started riding it was enough for me to just literally get on the saddle and pedal and I would get better because I hadn’t cycled before but after about a year of doing that I started looking at okay well maybe just getting on the saddle and pedalling isn’t enough anymore. What can I do make the biggest bang for my buck so to speak and I eventually got a Power meter and I started doing some effective power training and that made a huge impact.
BRAD BROWN: You raised such an important point there where you talk about bang for your buck and for age groupers particularly age groupers because they’ve got families and they work and time is probably one of the big issues that they have and the bike is the discipline that’s going to take the most time training for and if you’re wasting sessions you’re wasting time essentially.
Are power training sessions effective?
REECE BARCLAY: Yeah, certainly. I mean as you say, time is not always on age groupers’ side. So getting on the bike for an hour session and just pedalling easy for an hour watching TV programmes, you’re not going to get as much out of it as if you were training you know, with a purpose and using, you know sort of your Power meter to set your actual training parameters. I think that training much more smarter you just definitely get much more results for it.
BRAD BROWN: You spend a bit of time on the Turbo. I don’t know if it’s out of choice or out of necessity. Would you rather be on the road if you could all year round?
REECE BARCLAY: Yeah, I mean I always look out the window before I get on the Turbo and if it’s half decent I will go out. Unfortunately, though due to the nature of my work I have sort of clients come in sporadically throughout the day. I don’t always have the time to, you know, get my bike ready, get my clothes on and then, you know before I’ve done that I’ve lost half an hour of my you know, an hour and a half slot. So sometimes I just jump on the Turbo and get on with whatever I’ve got to get on with and even if it’s a nice day out and sort of rather get my session completed fully than head out on the roads and not finish it.
BRAD BROWN: Let’s talk about specific sessions. You talk about not wasting any sessions and going into each one with a purpose. What’s your favourite workout on the bike?
REECE BARCLAY: Oh, people who have been listening to this podcast are going to think I’m mental but I like 2 x 20 but 2 x 20 minutes at sweet spot, I find that a rewarding session.
BRAD BROWN: I love that because most of the age groupers I chat to and asking what their favourite workout is, by the time they get to the chat about the run, that’s their answer, is that they think that people are going to think they’re mental and I’m just finding that age groupers that perform really well at Kona love the hard session.
REECE BARCLAY: I think yeah, I think it’s definitely a common trait amongst us lot.
BRAD BROWN: There’s got to be a bit of masochist in you in order to do this thing. That’s what I’m learning, I think.
REECE BARCLAY: Yeah, certainly.
BRAD BROWN: Looking at running, we’ll chat about that next time out here on The Kona Edge. I also look forward to hearing what you’ve done there but before we shut out today, one of the things you did too in the build up to Kona is you spent some time in a heat chamber with regards to getting ready for those conditions on the bike. Do you think that was really beneficial and you would suggest that if somebody is serious about not just qualifying but performing well in Kona, that if they come from a fairly cold climate that they should do that?
REECE BARCLAY: Yeah, I’d certainly recommend it. It was by far the most rewarding and you know, educational experience I’d had and even now I look back on it and think that had I not done that I’m not sure I could have had the performance that I’d had in Kona. So yeah, if you’re serious about it and you want to get up on the podium it’s something worth looking into.
BRAD BROWN: Yeah, I’ve got an interesting story. It’s the opposite end of the scale. I’ve got a mate who wanted to climb Mount Kilimanjaro but they were going to do it barefoot. So they decided they needed to acclimatise what it was going to be like walking barefoot in the cold on the top of Mount Kilimanjaro and they went and spent some time in a cold chamber and he ended up getting frost bite just a few weeks before, so there’s obviously, it comes with its own set of dangers. You’ve got to be careful with these things, don’t you?
REECE BARCLAY: Oh yeah, definitely. I mean that was probably the most intense period building up into Kona. It was just… I can’t explain the heat that we had in there. It’s, I literally could not do any running or cycling. I was walking on the treadmill and my heartrate was through the roof and it was just the most mentally exhausting experience ever but it was definitely worth it.
BRAD BROWN: Did it scare you in the build up to Kona going through that, thinking what have I got myself in for?
REECE BARCLAY: Yeah, well we kind of, the team then knew what they were doing and they sort of instilled a belief in what the process was, was going to work, don’t worry about it and I trusted them. So that helped but yeah, definitely at the back of my mind I was thinking wow, I can’t even get a jog on here, how am I going to do this but you know the team were right, they knew what they were doing, so it came together in the end.
BRAD BROWN: Fantastic Reece, thank you so much for your time once again here on The Kona Edge until next time it’s cheers.
REECE BARCLAY: Thanks a lot.