Brad Williams is a regular top-10 finisher at Ironman events. We caught up with him recently to chat about how he trains, competes and, of course, hydrates.
How much training do you in each discipline in a big training week?
In a typical big week I’ll do anywhere between 20 to 25 hours of training. Around half of that is on the bike, with swimming and running taking up around 5-6 hours each a week.
What are your best times/splits for Ironman swim, bike and run sections?
The best I’ve swam at an Ironman is 54 minutes, I’ve biked a 4:38 on the Full, and the best run I’ve had was last year at Ironman UK in Bolton, where I did a 3:09.
Do you do anything differently when training in hot environments?
I don’t really do any heat acclimation, I think that might have contributed to some of the problems I had in Malaysia recently as I was coming straight from the UK. In terms of hydration when I was in Malaysia I was taking on nearly 2 litres a day and was adding PH 250s the whole time. About 2 days before and the night before I took a 1500. Generally I’ve always fared pretty well in the heat.
We know you drink Precision Fuel & Hydration electrolytes during a race, but what do you eat?
I don’t eat much, it’s mostly fluid based. I use 3-4 scoops of Hammer Perpetuem and sometimes I’ll add one or two gels to make it about a 1000 calorie bottle. On my new bike I have more storage space and so I’ll throw in a couple of chews and waffles as a backup plan if my stomach isn't liking the calories from the 'milkshake', or if I feel like I’m down on calories.
What did you learn from your struggle in Malaysia? (Brad ended up an uncharacteristic 21st in Malaysia in November)
I think what it came down to was that I totally screwed up my fluid intake on the day. I didn’t balance the electrolytes I was taking in with enough fluid. The humidity was 80%, the feel-like temperature was 100 fahrenheit and I only had a 1 litre bottle with me on the bike segment, though I took on maybe another 20ozs from aid stations. I did also have another 21oz bottle with me in that 90km but it was heavily concentrated towards calories, there was probably only about 12ozs of water in there. So, basically I just didn’t get the balance right on the day.
Brad's issues in Malaysia highlight that even at the very top level, athletes have to work hard to refine their hydration strategy for different scenarios. Brad took what he learned in Malaysia and came 7th in Dubai in January.
How long does it take you to recover from an Ironman race?
We’re about to find out pretty fast, I have Wanaka in a few days then 14 days later it’s Ironman New Zealand! I’ve done a pretty crazy triple before where I did Kona, then 15 days later I did a 70.3, then 6 days later I did another Ironman. That time the 70.3 was pretty rough but then the Ironman went really well. I’d say I’d usually get back to full training about 12 days after an Ironman and around 3-4 days after a 70.3.
What do you generally do after a race to celebrate?
I’m usually looking to eat anything I can get my hands on after a race and then once my stomach has settled I’ll generally grab a beer!
What have you found most useful about Precision Fuel & Hydration electrolytes?
Having a Sweat Test was huge, that really narrowed things down for me and I knew exactly how many electrolytes I needed to be taking on in different scenarios. And then, obviously having the products in line with the Sweat Test is a big help.
Thanks Brad, good luck at Ironman New Zealand!