Why indoor training could put Lucy Charles-Barclay on the top step in Kona – Dan Lorang

The UK in September isn't an obvious prep for Hawaii but it seems to be working for Lucy Charles-Barclay.

News Director
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It might not sound like the ‘conventional’ Kona prep, but could a big training block in the UK lead to that elusive top step on the podium for Lucy Charles-Barclay at the IRONMAN World Championship this weekend?

We’ve been talking to both Lucy and her coach Dan Lorang – and all the indications are promising ahead of Saturday’s huge showdown on the Big Island.

The world number four – who has been runner-up on her last four visits to Hawaii – told us last week that since arriving in Hawaii she feels “in amazing shape” and that “the prep we did at home must have worked quite well” as already she’s comfortable with the searing conditions out there.

Top level in two sports

And we’ve now been chatting to Lorang, who also coaches Anne Haug and Sarah True – and of course guided Jan Frodeno throughout his long-course career.

These are also exciting times currently for Lorang in his ‘day job’ as Head Coach and part of the management team at BORA – hansgrohe, who have just signed multiple Grand Tour winner Primoz Roglic.

Dan Lorang triathlon and cycling coach
Coach Dan Lorang (Photo credit: BORA – hansgrohe / Veloimages)

But back to triathlon and LCB and Lorang explained: “We decided that she would stay in UK for a big six-week training block. And for sure this was physically and mentally tough because doing a lot of training indoors is not always easy. On the other side, it’s quite effective. So if you are able to manage it, if you are able to go through it, I think it’s a good thing.

“And it was also a choice from herself, because we always had the option then to say, okay, let’s jump to Lanzarote or somewhere different to train. But she also wanted to be at home a little bit with the family.”


Feeling the heat

But don’t for a minute think that was the easy option, with Lorang pointing out: “We did not compromise in training, we did every single training session that was planned.

Lucy was second again at Kona last year [Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images for IRONMAN]

“And when we talked about staying that long in the UK in the immediate preparation for Kona, we also had to make a plan to do heat acclimatisation. They have really good training facilities at home with what they have in their garage and their training room. And if you are doing a lot of stuff indoors then whether you want to do heat acclimatisation or not – and we did – you get it immediately there. You can play a little bit around with the air so we used that scenario.

Also for me, it’s the first time to prepare that way so it will be interesting to see the outcome.

“There was not one session where I said, oh, it would have been better to be in a different spot. So that’s why I’m happy with how things went, it all went well. At the moment she feels good, she feels well adapted already to the conditions there in Kona.”


Teamwork makes the dream work

The fact that Lucy’s husband Reece is always on hand and continues to play a key role with the coaching is another factor in their favour, with Lucy telling us how the plan works:

“I think the nice thing with having Dan as the coach is he’s there to set kind of the backbone of the training, so he’ll set the plan for the weeks, which makes it easy for me to follow.

“But then obviously it’s a really good thing having Reece here every single day. He’s kind of like the coach on the ground that sees how I am, how I’m feeling and whether we need to adapt and change things and then we can communicate that directly to Dan and he can say, ‘actually, Lucy felt really good today, so we maybe push this a little bit more. Or Lucy was really tired today, so we’ve changed the sessions around. She’s going to have a bit of an easier day and then we’ll go again tomorrow’.

So it works really nicely having both of them kind of in my corner and just making sure that every day I’m doing the right thing.

“And, yeah, it’s definitely been working really well over the last couple of years.”

The next step for LCB

But the big question is whether this will be the year that Lucy is able to bag that cherished first place at Kona against what is an incredible field.

And as Lorang says: “I think you always go there to do better than the previous year, and if you are always second, it’s hard to get better because there’s only the win. But yeah, for sure we’re training for this and the plan is really to have that masterclass race now in Kona.

“But on the other side, we know it’s the strongest women’s field, probably ever. So while it’s always something special to win Kona, if we win it this year, I think it’s probably a little bit more special.

If she can deliver everything that we have seen in training, then she can compete for the victory.

“And for the rest, we have to see how the other ladies are on the start line.”

Friend or foe?

And there’s one other thing that will be different this year, the presence of Taylor Knibb who succeeded Lucy as 70.3 World Champion and will be making her full-distance debut.

In previous years Charles-Barclay has spent plenty of time on her own on the bike after leading out the swim, but that could be about to change – and potentially to her advantage.

Taylor Knibb Trek-Segafredo
Taylor Knibb – an incredible talent, especially on the bike [Photo Credit: Trek-Segafredo]

“It’s an unknown factor,” reckons Lorang. “Because I think for Taylor, it’s new to be on that long course distance. So it will be interesting how she will approach it in terms of intensity. We know she’s probably the strongest bike rider out there at the moment. So there is a potential, but also risk.

“So the potential is to have somebody to go with, and the risk is probably to overpace it and also not knowing if this is the pace that you can hold, even what Taylor can hold for the whole time. So it really depends a lot on feeling, for sure. We also will talk about the race strategy, power zones and so on, but it will also depend on Lucy’s feeling what to do and to make the right decision in the race. But for sure it could be something beneficial for her to have somebody to ride with and to be not alone on the course there.”

And that was echoed by Lucy who told us: “Where this race is different to most others is you just really have to manage yourself, focus on your effort and say, am I pushing too hard? Am I in the right zone? Looking at your heart rate, looking at your power numbers, am I where I want to be?

“Because if you’re pushing too hard, then you are just going to blow up on that run.”

Jonathan Turner
Written by
Jonathan Turner
Jonathan Turner is News Director for both TRI247 and RUN247, and is accustomed to big-name interviews, breaking news stories and providing unrivalled coverage for endurance sports.  
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