Lucy Charles talks Kona preparation

Top Ironman pro and last year's world championship runner up talks to 220 about how her preparation for Kona is going, and what she has learned from last year's race


Congratulations on your second place at the Ironman 70.3 Worlds in September.


Thank you very much. I am really happy. It was a last-minute decision to race so I am really glad the decision paid off and it was worth making the trip to South Africa.

It was never on my radar because I’ve only raced one official Ironman 70.3 last September so didn’t think I had enough points, but then I got a call from Ironman…

It was never part of the year plan but we just managed to work it out and build in some more speed work a few weeks before the 70.3, while trying to keep up the volume pretty high for Kona.

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Can you successfully combine 70.3 and Iron-distance racing?

I think you can do both, you just have to be smart with your training, and you obviously need a lot more base-training with Ironman. Luckily I think I’m someone who likes doing intensity training, which is why I think I can race 70.3 successfully.

If I was just to focus on 70.3, I could be quite a lot of faster, but I feel I can almost race the same speed over a long distance as I can race 70.3, which is probably why I’ve done well at the long-distance races so far.

How’s the Kona prep going?

Kona is always the biggest race of the year and is my key focus. My aim was to validate early, which I did at Ironman South Africa in April, and then build towards Kona.

I decided to do my Kona prep at home this year so I will be doing a lot more indoor training, which I think will make me a hell of lot tougher mentally in the race, as well as stronger physically. On a 5hr turbo session you never get to rest your legs on the downhill. I am hoping that’ll pay off!

I have a really good set up at home; I have swim squad and a running club and obviously I have my other half Reece [Barclay], who not only trains as well but also coaches me. We had a good idea of where we are at now after doing the 70.3 Worlds, so we’ve built on from that.

How valuable is Reece?

I definitely couldn’t do it without him. He does a hell of a lot of research, which benefits both of us, and obviously having him to train with and support me is a huge benefit. If he wasn’t doing it I would find it a lot more difficult to do the training on my own, so I’m glad to have him there!

How do your split your training in the lead up to Kona?

My focus is heavily weighted towards the bike because that’s a huge part of the day, but leading into Kona I won’t neglect the swim because I feel my race could boil down it. If I have a great swim it really sets me up well, so I won’t let that swim drop off.

Even though my swim is solid I could still be faster. I feel if I was to increase my swim training by just a little bit, compared to last year, we could see me come in a lot faster. Last year I was 6secs off the Kona swim record so this year I want to be at least 7secs faster to drop under that.

My run is something that I’m constantly chipping away at and, as I develop as a triathlete, I’m able to run more greater volume without injury. It’s nice to feel all three disciplines are constantly improving.

When I first started I felt I was quite fragile and susceptible to injuries. Whereas now I’ve been able to come back from the 70.3 Worlds and settle straight into training without any niggles or problems. It’s good to see I’m getting more robust as I go on.

Did you learn anything from last year’s Ironman World Championship?

Hawaii is so tough with the conditions but I always seem to fare ok, so we need to make sure we are doing the heat work at home so we will be layering up and switching on the heating and making sure we have it nailed.

There’s a lot of things in Kona last year that I can do better this year. Towards the end of the bike leg I became lazy with my nutrition so, if I can do better with that, I can have a stronger run off the bike. I’m hoping my marathon is going to improve on last year and that should set me up to do well.

What’s the Kona experience like?

I can’t wait for it. I absolutely love it there. It’s so far away, but it does feel like a home away from home and I’m going to have my family out there to support me like last year.

We get there about two weeks before the race and arrive knowing the hard work has been done. Then we can just sharpen up and enjoy being on the island and soak the atmosphere. It’s a pretty special place.

The Ironman World Championships take place on October 13 2018. Here’s how you can watch the event live


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