Courtesy of Red Bull Media Service Team
700km cycling, 90km running, 25km swimming a week for IRONMAN
Braden Currie explains his evolution from endurance champion to IRONMAN.
New Zealand’s Braden Currie has wasted no time in transitioning from a three-time World Multisport Champion to serious IRONMAN contender.
The 31-year-old made his 2017 IRONMAN World Championship debut last October in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii where an unfortunate bike puncture and time penalty after a great swim leg saw him fall down the standings to 31st by the finish.
He got over his disappointment quickly to finish seventh in the 2017 XTERRA World Championship two weeks later, which should stand him in good stead for a busy race schedule in 2018.
Here he talks about the pros and cons of his fascinating career:
Punishing schedule he needs to stay at the top
“My focus has changed a little bit with IRONMAN in the last year. Before that, I was looking at racing 11 key races a year and now I am looking at nine. I pretty much train for 12 months of the year, but I will have two to three weeks off a year spread out after key events.
“Before Kailua-Kona, we had a pretty solid five-month build after the New Zealand summer. It is a very long time to go without that release of race emotion that you build up. We race because we love it and when you have such a long training block you forget what you are doing it for. It was one of the more challenging training blocks I have done with only two small races in between. It paid off for me though in fitness wise and gains.
“I do a standard 25-30 hours of training a week with the core strength stuff making it 32 hours. 25km swimming, 600-700km on the bike and 60-90km running a week. I drop down to about 10 hours a week heading into a big race.
“I probably do a few different things to the average IRONMAN athlete thanks to my background in adventure racing and multi-sport off-road racing but the days of carrying bricks up 2000m mountains in my backpack are probably gone! I spend a lot of time now doing quite repetitive training mixed up with off-road trail running and mountain biking a couple of days a week as well.”
Changes to his body in the switch to IRONMAN
“It was a big evolution. My diet changed a lot. I lost a lot of weight and leaned up upper body wise compared to when I was doing a lot of kayaking and off-road racing. When I raced in March last year, I was about 69/70kgs and for Kailua-Kona I was more about 64/65kgs.”
Fuel needed to take on the world’s best
“It is a simple diet. Ninety-nine per cent paleo with no grains and very little processed carbohydrates. Any carbs I get will be out of sweet potato or kumara as we call it here in New Zealand. Not even normal potato because it is too inflammatory. Lots of natural fats like coconut creams and smoothies too.
“We are trying to teach my body to train and race at a higher level on fats before it starts burning those carbs. When you burn carbohydrates, it is high intensity to burn and it creates a lot of lactic acid and inflammation in the body, which makes recovery harder.”
Guilty pleasures he can sometimes indulge in
“If you are the general public, you burn all those calories on a six-hour ride and you come home and have a tub of ice cream. It is not going to worry you but doing it to the level that we want to compete at you don’t have those excuses anymore.
“For nutrition it is all about taking on the right energy sources and nutrients your body needs to repair and recover, so I am strict about what I eat on those big training blocks. There is a cafe in Wanaka, though, that makes the most incredible white chocolate and raspberry muffins to go with my coffee when I do get a week off finally.”
Dealing with pesky niggles and injuries
“I work with a physio once a month just to make sure everything is in line. If I have something that is irritating me, then I will get manual therapy work done on it. Strength and conditioning is a big part of my life.”
Burning passion and down time
“I love racing. I always take that as the most exciting part of what I do. As a professional athlete you get to be healthy, fit and strong and feel really good but I have also got two kids so I enjoy the fact I work from home and I get to spend time with them a lot more than an 8am-5pm working parent would.
“I really enjoy going on outdoor trips whether it is hunting, fishing or taking the boat into Fiordland National Park in the middle of nowhere. Camping on family trips or by myself is my favourite thing to do.”
Pushing through the pain barrier to glory
“I am always driven. There are plenty of external factors to keep you pushing. The power of the mind is incredible. The body can do a lot of stuff, but not if the mind is not committed to it. When things are hurting, I try and block them out and think of positive stuff that I have around me so I can keep pushing through it. Sometimes you also get on a roll when everything hurts but you kind of enjoy the challenge of seeing how far you can push your body and how much it can physically hurt without giving up.”
Watch Braden Currie ‘Dedicate’ on Red Bull.com HERE.