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The Norwegian Method: Kenji Nener reveals what it’s like to train with Blummenfelt and Iden

Kenji Nener reveals what it's like to train with Gustav Iden and Kristian Blummenfelt

Staff Reporter
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Having finished last season as WTCS #15, Japan’s Kenji Nener is one of the best in the world, but with his current crop of training partners, could be forgiven for sometimes feeling second best.

After he started training with Team Norway as part of the country’s deal with Japan in the build up to the Tokyo Olympics, Nener now finds himself regularly on camps with two of the best athletes in the world.

From rooming with Gustav Iden in Bergen to training day in and day out with Olympic champion Kristian Blummenfelt, Nener shared with TRI247 how this high performance training environment helps him continue to improve.

“I am grateful and indebted to Kristian, Gustav and Olav”

Discussing his winter preparations for the year ahead, Nener revealed that he spent time with the Norwegians at altitude in Morocco in December, before heading to Bergen for some testing in the New Year.

Kenji Nener at the 2023 Asian Games.
[Photo Credit – World Triathlon]

“My winter training started in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, in a small town called Oukaimeden. The altitude of Oukaimeden is a new altitude for me. I found that even walking up the stairs was challenging and training was of course tough. However, thanks to the great company and support of Kristian, Gustav, Olav and Ørjan, I believe I was able to lay down a solid foundation for the 2024 season.

“My next stop [after Christmas at home] was Bergen, where I stayed at Gustav’s house, and completed testing, across my swim, bike and run. The testing yielded a lot positives and I strongly believe that I am heading in the right direction for 2024. Once again I am grateful and indebted to Kristian, Gustav, Olav.”

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“He understands why we trained the way we did”

Despite not training with Iden and Blummenfelt in 2021/22 whilst the pair chased their long course ambitions, Nener received an invitation to rejoin the group in 2023, having originally trained with the pair as part of a bigger Norwegian and Japanese squad.

gustav-iden-kristian-blummenfelt-kona-2022-run-2
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

“From the end of 2021 and through the 2022 season, Kristian, Gustav and Olav focused their training around long course performances, and as such I didn’t train with them during this period. Though, from the start of 2023, Kristian, Gustav and Olav invited me back into program, as they began their return to short course racing.”

Arild Tveiten, who is Triathlon Norway’s Sports Director and played a pivotal role in bringing both teams together in the build up to Paris, was full of praise for Nener and his understanding of the work Iden, Blummenfelt and coach Olav Aleksander Bu were doing.

“In many ways it was Kenji that connected best with the rest of the team,” said Tveiten. “A little because he spoke English fluently but also because he understands why we trained the way we did, even if it was very different from the Japanese model. For Kenji I think that the training environment was a pleasant change and he connected well with the team. After the Olympics we went our different directions and the cooperation stopped for a while.

“Kenji found his way back to Kristian and Gustav and they are now training together in their camps which I think is good for all of them. I have seen Kenji develop a lot over the years since I first got to know him, and I’m really looking forward to see his form this season as I know he has made good progress.”

Tomos Land
Written by
Tomos Land
Tomos Land is a triathlon & running journalist whose expertise lies in the professional world of short course & long distance triathlon, though he also boasts an extensive knowledge of ultra-running.

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