Soon I’m about to face my first race as a pro triathlete. I’m excited to open the door into this new world and am really looking forward to embrace this lifestyle for years ahead.
For me it is a dream to compete with the best athletes in the world and I’m incredibly motivated by the thought of being among the best in the world. Over the last 5-6 months I have worked really hard and have dedicated myself 100% to this season. The start of this journey takes place in Marbella in the 70.3 Ironman this weekend.
I am approaching this pro environment with a very humble mind-set. I do acknowledge the level pro triathletes are at and also recognise that it will probably take me some time before I really consider myself as “one of them”. I also accept that I won’t be able to compete with the top contenders just yet. My first step is to become an established part of the field – not slipping up in the process (I say with a smile). I do feel that I belong in that pro field but it will take some time before I can aim at the top rankings.
As I head into my first pro season, my training regime has changed drastically from last year’s. That is, of course, a necessity with my personal ambition being significantly raised as well as the level that my competitors are at. The main difference is the increase in training volume. I now train around five hours more a week on average compared to this time last year. There is also far more structure to my training programme thanks to the great support of my coach and friend Christian Jersild. The upshot of this is that I have more control in my training build-up – in both volume and intensity. This should ensure steady development and peak fitness as the main goals of the year.
Over the winter I have built up my fitness with a lot of base training. It has been an important step adapting to this increased volume. Last year my peak training weeks were just over 20 hours/week. In January-February I had five weeks in a row with 20 hours/week. Ultimately, this highlights the difference.
After all, I feel comfortable with my training volume, which means I have slowly been picking up the intensity. Most of my winter training has been low intensity – fairly far away from my threshold. But in the last month I have worked specifically on and over my threshold to boost both my fitness and speed.
Our approach to training has delivered a very good base fitness, which Christian and I can now slowly boost over the coming season. This means I won’t be in peak condition, fitness-wise, this weekend – this will have to wait until September. However, I do have a very steady level – which is actually better than I have ever had before. Therefore, I feel like I’m in great condition going into the start of the season.
I expect to pull off a good race. As mentioned earlier I don’t expect to be among the top half of the field – not at all, actually. If I can make a top 40 finish, I will be very satisfied. In fact, a top 40 would confirm my overall improvements and give myself a good indication of future possibilities.
I’m obviously searching for some answers here; partly where I am compared to the other pro’s but also what times and numbers I am able to perform. My plan is to swim under 30 minutes – around 28-29 minutes is my goal. On the bike, I will push around 290 watts average (this is a rough idea because power meters tend to vary a lot and even my own varies a lot from the one I used previously). The bike course is hilly with around 1400 meters of altitude – and this makes it hard to predict the time spent on the bike. Finally, in the run leg I’m aiming for an average pace of 3:45/km, which should secure me a time under 1:20 (actually 1:19).
I’m quite comfortable with the plan and my personal expectations. I know I have done all I could over the last 5-6 months in order to develop as much as possible. Come what may, I’m focusing on being proud of my achievements in training and the true dedication and willingness I have shown. I have pretty much completed all the training as planned through a 5-6 month period. As a result, I am going into this season opener (and pro racing opener) both calm and confident.
That said, I can’t deny that I will be nervous on the days leading up to the event. Still, I will try to remain positive and assured all the way through to the finish line. As ever, I’m looking forward to crossing that line.
/Jesper Nybo Riis