Age-group profile: Roger Witz-Barnes, 28

Looking to make the GB team? Andy Blow profiles four quality age-groupers to see what makes them fast

9837-74f1b39-4a85e79.jpg

Roger Witz-Barnes

Advertisement

Age: 28

Age group: 25-29

Lives: Manchester

Profession: Security Programme Manager

Major results

Won overall age group at European Champs 2011 in 1:58:40

3rd Lisbon International Tri, 4:10:39 (1/2 IM)

13th Windsor Elite (drafting), 1:57:51

Personal bests

1,500m swim 17mins

40km bike 56mins

10km run 35mins

TRAINING

Because Roger works as a security manager for BT in Manchester, most of his training is limited to weekday mornings and evenings with extra time available at the weekends – much like anyone with a full-time job.

Therefore, he tends to undertake two sessions a day on four days between Monday and Friday – mostly a swim, plus either a bike or run set. On the fifth day he does an easy technique swim set as recovery and tends to do this when he’s working in London, as much of that day is taken up with travel.

He runs off-road whenever possible, with fartlek sessions and longer runs on soft surfaces, which he firmly believes helps reduce his injury rate – something that has hampered his run performance in the past.

“A big winter base followed usually by two peaks in the season” is how he describes the periodisation behind his training plan and he’s sure to keep a diary of sessions to track progress and make sure he’s sticking to these principles.

He’s self-coached and usually works a three weeks hard, one week easy cycle, and about 50% of his training sets are with Manchester Tri Club or other local athletes, and the other half done solo.

Blow’s verdict

Roger applies a traditional periodisation approach to training (for example, building an aerobic base in the winter and upping the intensity in spring and summer). This is certainly no bad thing because
it means he can peak at the right time for major events and reduces his risk of overtraining.

This is helped further by him taking one day per week easy and backing off one week in every four. Training with others about half of the time is great for motivation but crucially leaves enough time for Roger to train alone, where it’s easier for him to manage the intensity and specificity of his sessions as required.

His programme is perhaps unusually swim-biased (due to his background in the sport and as he has easily been injured running in the past). However, working specifically on weaknesses, such as his running, is where he’ll find the next big leap in performance.

LIFESTYLE

Roger’s happy to admit that triathlon is a very big part of his life. His girlfriend also competes, so he gets a lot of support from her, and many of his friends are also athletes. “I don’t drink during the season these days because it makes morning training that bit harder!” he says, but doesn’t find abstaining from alcohol or partying too much of a chore. If he wins a race or does well he’s more likely to treat himself to some new kit than go for a big night on the town.

Blow’s verdict

There’s a fine line between being dedicated and obsessive – the latter tends to be diagnosed when one particular aspect of a person’s life starts to negatively impact on others. For Roger, his dedication to triathlon (and the success this brings) appears to add to, rather than detract from, his self- esteem, work and relationships, so is a positive element in his life.

NUTRITION

“My girlfriend’s a veggie, so I just add meat to what she’s having and it makes for great meals” is Roger’s main comment on his day-to-day nutrition. He has a die-hard habit of going for pasta as a pre-race meal – “I’ve always done that since swimming days” – and during races he uses a mixture
of gels and drinks from a variety of manufacturers. “I’m not particularly brand loyal!” he says.

Blow’s verdict

Roger aims for a balanced diet and understands the principles of carbohydrate loading before racing to make sure the muscles are fully stocked with energy. While it’s good to test different gels and drinks, at the races stick with what you know to ensure there’s no stomach issues resulting from something less tested, especially during big events.

GEAR

Roger rides a very capable but by no means top-of-the-range TT bike: a Cervélo P2 with Shimano Ultegra groupset and Zipp 606 wheels.

He swims in an ‘old school’ Aquaman Metal Cell wetsuit (popular with top swimmers due to being very flexible in the shoulders) and uses Garmin 405 and 500 GPS devices for training and racing. He runs in the popular Asics Gel DS Trainers: a lightweight racer/trainer.

Blow’s verdict

Despite having a decent bike and some fast wheels, Roger certainly doesn’t seem to be obsessed with ‘bling’ kit.
He routinely smashes up the swim and bike sections of races with the fastest splits in a five-year-old wetsuit and Ultegra-equipped bike – proof, if ever it were needed, that beyond a certain level of expense, fitness and technique top equipment every time.

ROGER’S TRAINING PLAN

During the race season, Roger follows this programme…

Mon   
Swim and bike or run set – speedwork

Tues   
Swim and bike or run set – speedwork

Wed   
Swim and bike or run set – speedwork

Thursday
Swim and bike or run set – speedwork

Fri      
Swim technique only (if travelling to London)

Sat      
Swim to bike brick session

Sun    
Bike-run brick

Advertisement

WEEKLY TRAINING TIME: 12hrs