How this Kona AG World Champion is using off season to build solid foundations

By Chris Knight | 7 Minute Read

Laura Addie has made rapid progress as a triathlete since discovering the joys of swim-bike-run at university. In the space of two years, Laura has gone from winning sprint-distance medals at the British Championships to an IRONMAN Age Group World Champions in 2019. 

Remarkably, the 24-year-old only stepped up to full-distance racing in 2019 when she won IM Vitoria-Gasteiz, which was a victory that secured her place at the World Champs on 'The Big Island'. 

Laura battled with injuries throughout the year before finishing on top of the podium at Kona and we caught up with her to hear how she's approaching training ahead of an exciting 2020 season...

 

Hi Laura, how are you enjoying your off season so far? I imagine you're starting to ramp your training up with the new campaign fast-approaching? 

I enjoy having the extra time to see friends and family during the off season, but I really like having a weekly routine and training plan as it helps keep my mind focused.

I'm glad to be back training again and not feel like I'm wasting days! 

I'm only training about 16-18 hours per week at the moment as I've just got over a chest infection and we're spending a couple more weeks building the base before ramping up the speed work for my first race of the season at Challenge Salou in March.

In terms of the specifics, I swim three or four times a week, and I'll implement a mix of aerobic and speed work in the pool. 

I'll build up my base endurance for cycling on the turbo and I'll work more specifically to power when I'm on the roads. My running follows a similar pattern as I do a couple of base runs in the week - one is about an hour long and the other is a longer run on trails, while I'll also mix some hill work and speed sessions once or twice a week.

I'll also do some strength and conditioning, so I have one PT session a week and I spend about 30 minutes every other day working on my strength at home.

 

 

There's plenty to fit into your week there... How do you manage to fit those 16-18 hours of training as an age-group athlete with daily life and work? 

I love a weekly planner! It really helps that I work the same shifts every week as this allows me to fit in my training around work at Hampton Pool. I know which days I'm able to fit in longer training days and allow for days where I might only be able to do a swim and S&C session.

At the moment I'm focusing on building a solid base for the season ahead because I'll be racing from March through until October, so setting solid foundations is really important.

My plan is to race the first half of the season over 70.3 distance, although I haven’t actually completed a 70.3 since the World Champs back in September 2018.

I raced 70.3 Staffordshire last year but pulled out part way through the bike leg due to injury.

Four-and-a-half hours of racing seems a lot more doable than 10 and I'm looking to get some speed back in the legs before building back up to Kona - where I've got a world title to retain!

 

I'm glad you brought Kona up as we couldn't talk to you without mentioning your win in the 18-24 age group. Firstly, congratulations! And secondly, had you expected to walk away from Hawaii with a Umeke Bowl at the end of your first ever season racing over IRONMAN distances? 

Thanks! Even now, the thought of racing over IRONMAN distances is daunting and I think it’s something I'll never take for granted as the training, motivation and determination needed to get you to the start line is something I can't even describe.

I was so nervous on the race morning of Vitoria-Gasteiz. I couldn’t eat and was in tears saying my goodbyes to my partner, James, as he did up my wetsuit.

But as soon as you hear that gun go, the thought of racing over 10 hours suddenly seems like a lot less of a challenge. 

Heading out to Kona, I didn’t particularly have any expectations. Whenever you speak to others about the Big Island you hear the stories about the wind, sun, humidity, currents, and the island gods!

So, just completing the race seemed like such a challenge, but I knew if I raced well then I'd have a good chance of finishing in the top-10.

 

 

You certainly did that with your time of 10:44.49! What was the biggest thing you learned from your debut at Kona? And what would be your best piece of advice for anyone heading to The Big Island? 

Most importantly - put sunscreen on!

I was so nervous on the morning of the race that I forgot to put sunscreen on my arms, which led to severe second-degree burns during the bike leg on the Queen K. It made for a very hard last 10km of the marathon as I was experiencing sun stroke. 

It was definitely a case of learning to control the controllables as this nearly cost me a world title.

The other thing I'd recommend is keeping yourself to yourself. It truly is an amazing island but it's easy to get caught up in the hype. I was lucky enough to stay out near the Energy Lab so we only experienced the hype on our own terms.

 

How big an influence was your coach, Lucy Charles-Barclay, on your performance? Lucy won the IM World Champs 18-24 age-group herself in 2015 and she's obviously enjoyed some fantastic races as a pro in Kona since then...

Despite her being a friend and coach, I have to say Lucy is my biggest inspiration. The determination she has is incredible and whenever I’m going through a rough patch in a session or need some motivation, I just think ‘what would Lucy do?’ and then kick my ass into gear!

It was great to be able to stay in an apartment with Lucy’s team in Hawaii, where her manager Pas taught me how to use a refill CO2 canister the night before the race... I probably should have been a little more prepared. 

Having been to the island before, Lucy got me heat training in the months prior to the race, so I was doing my turbo and my running sessions in coats, gloves and hats. I definitely got some odd looks but it clearly paid off.

I cannot thank Lucy enough for all the help and advice she has given me during the past three years, she’s helped me move from a sprint-distance age grouper to IRONMAN World Champion. 

 

Fantastic, well done Laura. Thanks very much for your advice and we're excited to see what 2020 has in store for you. 

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