Liz Blatchford Q&A

The Aussie/GB athlete-turned-Ironman star tackles your training, racing and post-tri teasers

Do you have some tips for me on tackling my first Ironman? I’m a runner making the transition.
Spend some quality time training your swim and bike to the point that you over emphasise them compared to your run. You don’t want to get to the run too exhausted to access your run background. For any first timer, I also say to practise your nutrition in training to train your gut to take on a lot of calories while racing.

Living in Boulder during the Australian winter, do you train with other pros? Or is there an element of secrecy between the elites?
There are probably more pro triathletes in Boulder than the rest of the world combined! So yes, I train with a few when our programmes fit. I’m not secretive, so I’d much rather have company for a 6hr ride than do it alone. Last summer I spent some quality bike hours with Tim Don and Rachel Joyce. The masters swim squads are full of pros and it’s always a battle for the title of who’s the most tired after their session!

What’s your toughest training day?
Two weeks out from an Ironman, I’m usually close to exhaustion and I hit myself with one last big brick. It’s a 5hr ride with 4x20min TTs within the first 4hrs, then the last hour at Ironman goal watts. I then run off the bike for 50-60mins at 3hr marathon pace or faster.
No part of the session is crazy hard; it’s more about where it comes within the training block.

How has your nutritional intake changed since moving from ITU to Ironman?
Race-day nutrition couldn’t be more different. In ITU it was less than one bottle of electrolyte drink on the bike and maybe a gel on the run. For Ironman I consume upwards of 20 Etixx gels, loads of electrolyte and a lot of Coke. I sought out a nutritionist and worked out how many grams of carbs per hour I needed. After a few Ironmans we found my optimum level is upward of 90g per hour, which is high for my weight.

What’s the highlight of your racing career?
Both of my Ironman Worlds podiums would have to be equal highlights. So much goes into racing well in Kona that, when it pays off, it’s so satisfying.

You studied marine biology, will you return to that post-tri?
It’s still an interest but I can’t see it being a career. I’m looking to teach science and PE at secondary school. They’ve just added tri to some curriculums in Australia, so it’d be good to impart some of my knowledge.