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Lionel Sanders on lessons learnt and what it will take to win a PTO Tour race on the run

Lionel Sanders on what it takes to win a PTO Tour race on the run.

Staff Reporter
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Redefining triathlon

Canadian middle distance star Lionel Sanders doubled down on his belief that training in the heat of the summer at home in Tucson was counterproductive in his most recent YouTube video.

Looking back on the top run splits in the PTO Tour this season, Sanders identified where he needs to be in order to compete with the best in the world, with American Jason West currently setting the mark.

In the video, embedded below, the PTO World #33 gives a fascinating insight in what will be required of him in 2024, as he looks to get back to winning ways against the best in the sport.

“Just doing mindless hard work is not the answer”

Giving his opinion on what worked against him this season, Sanders says that not being able to run at the necessary speeds because of the heat in Tucson was a mistake that he will not make again.

Lionel Sanders training pic August 2023 photo credit Talbot Cox
[Photo credit: Talbot Cox]

“Living in a hot climate, this [November] is when the cycle repeats. Coming off a hot summer, it’s not too bad now and this is when you start to get fit again. Your body is able to cool itself properly and the actual speed begins to match the internal intensity.

“The big thing that has been lacking is somewhere along the way, Trevor [Foley] and I, sometime in about March, did a session of 2 x 5k and I asked Trevor what would be a good result for 3 x 5k, and he said 15:00. 

“I think that’s still true, Jason West, who is running the best consistently right now, can do those kind of sets and he posted some workouts going into the summer where he did run 2 x 5k in under 15:00, so he could certainly do 3 x 5k in around 15:00.

“We knew that, but somewhere along the way we decided, let’s not do what it takes to do the best, don’t worry about it, it’s too hot therefore let’s not do that. We made the wrong decision.” 

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Learning from his mistakes

Heading into next year, Sanders aims to right his wrongs from this season and when the time comes, switch to either training indoors or move to a cooler location.

“The right decision would have been to go indoors or train somewhere else, but we made the wrong decision, which is okay, because everyone makes mistakes, but now we have to learn from those mistakes.

“Just doing mindless hard work is not the answer. You have to ask yourself what speed does it take to win and doing sessions slower is just not adequate anymore, it’s not adequate speed.” 

Ahead of a threshold session of 5 x 1 mile on the track, Sanders said that he was using the first one of the block to gauge where he was at, but had a good idea of where he wanted to be come race season in order to be competitive.

“The reality is that 5:00/mi is the speed the top guys are running off the bike now, so if your threshold is 5:00/mi you’re not going to be running that off the bike. In order to run it off the bike, your threshold needs to be closer to 4:35/mi if you want to run 5:00/mi off the bike at a PTO race.” 

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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