London 2012: Triathlon champion Alistair Brownlee talks training
In the second of our London 2012 series, 2010 European Triathlon Champion and 2009 World Triathlon Champion Alistair Brownlee talks to us about his training regime and preparing for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games…
For the last four weeks I’ve been on an altitude training camp in St Moritz in Switzerland, one of my favorite places to train. The first couple of weeks I struggled in the heat and got rather sunburnt, but more recently it’s been much colder and rainy. Bad weather just makes it that bit more difficult to mentally get on with the job, but being amongst others on camp spurs you on.
Summer training is always more preferable, not only is the weather generally kinder but the mornings are lighter which makes it easier to kick start the day. I keep in mind my goals and any upcoming races which also helps me stick to a routine. In the winter it is that much harder because of the miserable gloomy weather but there isn’t really any other option, you just need to get on with the training. My brother Jonathan, also a triathlete, is great to have around and we encourage each other.
My favorite training session is probably a long, easy run, I find swimming that much harder because it’s very repetitive, up and down the pool. When I’m out running I can take everything in around me, I prefer being outside.
My routine is generally around 30 to 35 hours of training a week which varies between running and cycling which I do every day, and swimming where I try to do five sessions a week. Because of the intensity of my training I try and see my physio once a week. I do my best to look after my body and over the years I’ve learnt how my body works and what it can cope with. I think the key is to keep everything consistent, going mad and changing your training patterns on a frequent basis is dangerous.
In terms of measuring the effects of my training and levels of fitness, I don’t have any specific tests that I use but I do go with how I feel, and I’m quite flexible in that regard. The races are my measure of how well I am training.
I don’t believe that diet and nutrition are as important as my physical training but I do my best to eat well and in large quantities to keep my calorie intake up as I burn so many during training. Of course it can be difficult with the cost of food, I’ve noticed here in St Moritz that it’s quite difficult to eat well on a budget; it’s definitely something I have to consider.
I’m currently finishing off a part time Masters in Finance (at Leeds Met University). I wanted to continue my education and develop a career alongside my sporting career; I feel it’s important to have something else to focus on other than my training. It’s definitely helped me learn to manage my time and hopefully has made me a more rounded person.
Every race is important and after a competition it can be quite difficult to cope with the immediate high and then on occasion, the low that follows. I try to get back into my routine as quickly as possible, at the very most allowing myself a couple of days rest. I guess my main focus at the moment is on qualification for London 2012 which is very important to me.
Dealing with the unexpected
Triathlon is a very unpredictable sport and anything can go wrong for any one of the competitors. It’s really important to be able to react to pressure.
After my puncture in Spain at the European Championship I just had to get on with it. To go on and win the race was one of my proudest moments.
You’re surrounded by your competition at the end of the day and you just have to go with the flow, hence why I don’t like to have a plan set in stone for any of my races, just to do the best I can with the circumstances on the day.
Over the past few years the profile of triathlon has been raised and participation has grown massively which is of course great, especially ahead of London 2012. For anyone starting out I would just say enjoy it, as long as you’re interested and willing to try your best that’s great.
We’ve found 100 people from across the UK to tell their stories about the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
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