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The road to Kona Ironman, Step One: Planning for Success

SuuntoRun — 16 september 2015

What does it take to train for the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii? Follow our four-part series about Suunto athlete Åsa Lundström as she prepares and find out! 

For Swedish triathlete Åsa Lundström the next few weeks are everything.

Over the last month, the 30-year-old medical student and professional athlete has been preparing for the approaching Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii on October 10th, 2015.

It’s the legendary Ironman that every triathlete dreams of competing in. That dream is about to become a reality for Åsa.

“Every sport has tales to tell of battles on the race course,” she says. “And with Ironman, we all hear stories of the legendary clashes of the triathlon titans at Kona.

“The best part is that we now have the opportunity to become one of those stories.”  

Click here to read more about Åsa, the unlikely Swedish triathlete

Like all big projects, Åsa's road to Kona begins with the most important step: careful planning. She works closely with her professional triathlete coach, Cliff English, for this. When to intensify, where to train and when to go to Hawaii have all been planned well in advance.

Cliff updates Åsa’s training schedule week-by-week, always trying to find the right balance between the intensity and volume of her training and ensuring she gets enough recovery time.

“I’m constantly monitoring her sessions, looking at objective measurements, such as pace and power, as well as her subjective feedback on each session and on other factors including sleep quality, muscle soreness and freshness,” Cliff says.

During a normal training week, Åsa puts in between 20 and 25 hours. For Kona, that jumps to 35 hours every week. Her life becomes structured around training. In one week, she swims five or six times, cycles four or five times, runs five to six times and does strength and core training three times.

“Åsa typically trains two to three times per day,” Cliff says. “Some of the sessions are separate with a morning session then a midday session and typically a lighter active recovery session later in the day.

“I tend to prescribe one key session per day, however I also include combo sessions that include bike and run that are typically executed at race efforts.”

All this training might sound austere, like Åsa has no life, but she enjoys the process.

“When I have a big goal to work towards, it feels natural to focus on that, and to make choices adjusted to it,” Åsa says. “I don’t believe being disciplined means life cannot be fun at the same time.”

To keep things fun and to plan in a short term training goal, Åsa recently competed in the Tjörn Triathlon in Sweden and won the women’s division.

“It was a great boost,” she says, “and gave me proof that my training is going in the right direction.”

That’s important because she says it’s not always easy to tell if her build up is going well.

“When you are in a big training period, you feel tired and worn, and it’s hard to tell sometimes,” she explains. “However, when you feel tired, and you somehow manage to make the body do what you ask, then this is a good sign, especially if you were able to push yourself to a required pace or effort you didn’t think you could do.”

Åsa recently travelled to Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands to begin her final preparations. The warmer conditions are more similar to Hawaii than in Sweden, making it a good training ground.

Check out the second step, progress, of our four part series about Åsa as she continues on the road to the Ironman World Championship in Kona.