What it takes to become an Ironman Age Group World Champion, by the numbers - Ruth Purbrook
We started working with Ruth Purbrook about 3 years ago and we were stoked to see her become an Ironman Age Group World Champion after crossing the line in Kona in a stunning time of 09:33. That made her the fastest female British age-grouper overall and third fastest female across all Age-Group categories.
We interviewed her back in October and now she's shared some training data and insights on what it took to get onto that top step...
Thanks guys. So, I was Inspired by Chris Standidge’s post on what it took for him to become a 70.3 World Champion and I thought I'd do something similar.
I think it's important to show that you don’t need to be a 'gifted' athlete, or naturally amazing in one of the disciplines, but that through general, consistent hard work you can make improvements and become an all-round triathlete capable of winning your age-group.
So, for those that love their data, the below chart shows my weekly training from 1st Jan 2018 up to the Ironman World Champs on 14th October:
I had a few races to break up the season, which you can see quite clearly on the graph:
1: Challenge Roma – at the end of week 16 – I was actually carrying a calf injury into this race and wasn’t running for the 3 weeks leading up to the race (the runs that you can see are aqua jogs...).
2: Slateman Savage – at the end of week 20 – More of a training race as I just love being in that part of the world, so I still had a fair amount of volume leading up to the race, including 3 BIG weeks of training just before.
3: Challenge Champs – end of week 22 – This was one of my A races but I didn’t actually have the race I wanted, fading a bit on the run, but it was still part of a good block of training.
4: Ironman Nice - the qualifier at the end of week 25 – As you can see this was then followed by a week off!
5: Alpe D'Huez Long Course – in week 31 – This was also a fun race, it's a brutal course but SO beautiful. I also faded on the run here, I didn't really want to start the run in the first place! That was probably the most I've suffered in a race that I can remember...
6: Hever Castle – Week 38 – This was just meant to be a bit of a test for the legs and race kit, but it ended up being my first DNF. I just couldn’t warm up on the bike and so pulled out after 1 lap...
Average week: 17 – 18 hours of training
During Winter and Spring, I averaged just over 5 hours a week, about 4 swims, ~19km, and then from Summer onward 4.5 hours a week, about 4 swims, ~17km average.
I managed to get a regular Friday swim in with Nat Seymour, up to the point of changing jobs and, when the lakes were open, some Sunday swims with Nat as well but other than that the majority of my swim was alone when I was able to fit it in.
I averaged 8.5 hours a week, 244km.
Again a lot of solo sessions, it seems most of my club mates aren’t keen for 5.15am sessions in London's Richmond Park!
I'm lucky in that my partner Barney is usually up early as well and that at the weekends I can ride with people from the club or Nat – depending on what kind of session I have.
Average 3.5 – 4 hours a week, 42km.
Most run sessions were alone, other than trying to make the Club's Sunday run where possible and linking that in with my longer run sessions.
To be honest this was pretty non existent, this was the session I binned off whenever work was busy (most of the time!)...
So, juggling all the above with what was around 50 hour work week (and which since June has been a 60-70 hour work week!) has been fairly hectic. By the end of most weeks I was feeling quite wiped out.
But I do think you almost get an advantage when you get to race week somewhere like Kona and you get ~10 days before the race with not working and managing to sleep, you feel extra magic on race day!
I think the key this year was both my consistency and experience.
With this year’s Kona being my 4th Ironman (and 2nd time out on the Big Island), there's so much you can learn from just having done more of the distance - and knowing the course.
I'd also been pretty clear that this year I was going all in to win!
I invested in heat chamber sessions with Jodie Moss at Roehampton University. I definitely think this made a big difference to how well I coped with the heat. That's mentally as well as physically; when you can run for 1:30 staring at a white wall then the Queen K seems relatively interesting!
A bottle of PH is DEFINITELY a must in a heat chamber....
I also upgraded some of my bike components and went out 10 days early again and generally did what I could to be in the best possible shape (other than lots of snacks to get me through some stressful work weeks!)
The main reason I wanted to post something around the training I do and how I managed to be standing on that top step was because I truly think that anyone can do it.
If you have that drive and desire - and can put a consistent number of hours in - it's possible to do it around a busy life. (I'm still in awe of how people juggle work, kids and triathlon though...)
The final key for me was having Barney there throughout the whole journey – his own drive and motivation to be the great cyclist he is inspires me to go out and work that bit harder (if only to not get completely dropped when we go cycling together...). So finding training partners / people that inspire you can make a huge difference and really push you on.
I’m now back in training, and slowly starting to get fit again after 4 weeks of nothing! It hurts...