How Team Charles-Barclay Prepares for Kona

Team Charles-Barclay is a wife and husband duo unlike any other. Lucy, a professional Triathlete, is a favorite to win the 2019 Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. Her husband Reece is also an accomplished triathlete, and her coach.

In preparation for Kona, we caught up with both Lucy and Reece, and were able to gain some unique insight and perspective into how they are preparing for the big race.

When will you arrive in Kona? Why?

Lucy: We will arrive on the 27th of September, 16 days before the race.

Reece: All hard sessions will be completed by then, but there will still be some tune-up work to do. Acclimatization is the main reason to be out in the Big Island so far in advance. 

What will your schedule be like?

Lucy: Whatever the coach lays out! But as Reece says, the big sessions are done, so tuning up and heat acclimatization will be the key one. We have had a fast lane installed at our accommodation, so that will mean swim, bike, and run are all very easy to achieve each day. The sessions will be short apart from the odd longer bike session.

Reece: Sometimes this is the hardest bit for Lucy as she is always so keen to train. So, holding her back can be a challenge. It's also important to make sure that nothing goes stale. One or two short session(s) with reasonable intensity each day.

Breakfast or workout first? Why?

Lucy: It depends on the workout for me. If it’s a swim, then something light or nothing at all, because they are so early in the morning. This will not be the case in Kona now that we have the fast lane installed, but I still like to hit this session early then relax with breakfast. If it is run or bike, then breakfast (nearly) always.

Reece: Fueling is very important and sometimes fasting as well, so the option of breakfast is taken away. But in these final stages, nutrition has been tested so we have a full race plan. In Kona, staying healthy is the most important thing, so breakfast, then workout. 

How do you approach balancing technique, strength training and endurance? Especially as you prep for an event like Kona?

Lucy: No big technique changes on the final run in to Kona, and strength gains are not really on the card either. So, my strength work is simply based around maintenance. Endurance is always the key for Kona - it's about what intensity can I maintain in the heat and specific race conditions.

Reece: The technique and strength work is already done, but strength sessions are still planned to make sure there is no drop off. And similarly, technique is always at the heart of all sessions, as efficiency is the key in Kona. Heat work is our big focus, taking the long intense sessions from the previous months of training and adding the heat and some high intensity intervals to best simulate race conditions. 

How do you approach balancing the three activities of swim, bike and run in advance of a big race?

Lucy: If I am not as strong as I should be in one of those disciplines then I will push to have more sessions added. Reece has usually spotted that before me, so I follow the plan.

Reece: Bike is the biggest portion of the race, and one that we are least familiar with. Time-wise, it forms the biggest part of the training program. But, all aspects are important, so we tend to focus on certain disciplines within certain blocks. 

When training is extra intense, what’s the one thing you make sure you’re always sure to do? 

Lucy: I need to refuel and recover after the really big session. You only improve from them if you recover from them properly. Otherwise, it can affect my whole week. 

Reece: Motivation is the key during the session, giving Lucy support, or challenges or visualization of what she is working towards during the really hard times is massive. We all want it to stop when its really hard so as an athlete I know she will be trying to find ways through it mentally, so it is my job to make this as easy as possible. Once achieved the recovery is so important, refueling straight away, stretching, physio, sleep to allow her body to adapt and improve so we can move on to the next session with limited risk of injury and fatigue.

What does a typical morning of a race look like for you? Will you make any changes to your routine for Kona?

Lucy: I'll wake up early, eat, and check my race day kit one last time. Then, I'll head to transition to set up my bike and clear my head. I know Kona well now, so my prep won’t change unless Reece spots something. I love having him there to share the stress and the emotion before, during, and after the race.

Reece: We have a good layout in Kona and researched it well, so there are no real changes planned. Lucy knows her routine. I am helping with any last-minute weather updates or course information so she can stay calm and focused for the big race.


*images courtesy of James Mitchell

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