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Ironman training, studies and ‘chasing after an active toddler’ – how Sarah True makes it all work

Few pro triathletes are as busy as Sarah True and we chat to her coach Dan Lorang about how how they optimise her training time.

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There’s no more fascinating contender at IRONMAN Frankfurt this weekend – which doubles as the women’s European Championship – than America’s Sarah True.

She was runner-up in Frankfurt back in 2018, with only the great Daniela Ryf in front of her that day.

And then 12 months on she looked certain to go one better when she led by over five minutes in the last mile only for the searing heat to get the better of her. Thankfully she recovered quickly but the win went to compatriot Skye Moench and the two will lock horns again on Sunday in what looks a real USA vs Europe battle.

Reality vs Instagram

But since then True has stepped away from the sport to start a family and she is currently also managing to find time to add to her already impressive academic qualifications, so no wonder she posted the following on Instagram earlier this week:

“I’ve been a bit quiet on the IG recently. Life has been hectic between being mid-semester in school, Ironman training, and chasing after a very active toddler. But rest assured I’m still doing my thang – even if it’s not documented on social media!”

It’s a life that will resonate with many an age-grouper and we’ve caught up with her coach Dan Lorang – who also looks after the likes of Jan Frodeno, Anne Haug and Lucy Charles-Barclay – to find out how they work together to keep her at the top of her game at elite pro level.

He told us: “We try always to adapt the training to her, to the family situation and how much time she has also with the studies

“For me, the most important part is always that she can do it – but also has fun doing it and not too much stress.

“She tells me, okay, that’s the time that I have. And then I try to make the training programme fit into it, even if I have in my mind ‘okay, it would be good to have five hours more somewhere’!

“But we gain more by keeping the stress level a little bit lower as opposed to going completely to the limit. Because if you have family and everything else, it’s not so easy. And I think we have a good system.”

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Mutual respect

But don’t for a minute be fooled into thinking that True isn’t competitive – she’s a two-time Olympian (fourth in that epic race at London 2012) and won no fewer than three times (IRONMANs Arizona and Lake Placid and 70.3 Eagleman) in an incredible comeback season in 2022.

Sarah True IRONMAN Arizona 2022 [Photo credit Patrick McDermott Getty Images for IRONMAN]
Sarah True wins IRONMAN Arizona last November [Photo credit Patrick McDermott / Getty Images for IRONMAN]

“She’s still ambitious,” confirms Lorang. “She wants to compete as well as possible and goes all in when she is at the start line.

“But on the other side she’s also realistic and knows, okay, these are my time limits, and my family is number one.

“And then we always work in phases. Sometimes she has more time where she can do the sport. And it’s easy to deal with it as long as the expectation always fits to what you are doing when you are training.

You need to have a realistic approach from both sides. And I think that’s what we are doing.

I say to Dan that it sounds like he too enjoys the challenge: “Yeah, for sure, it’s very interesting. It starts first of all with the personality from Sarah, that’s what is really special. And for me, it’s not always about just winning. It’s also about personal relations, for example, between coach and athlete, about respecting each other. And that’s something that I feel has always been really good with her.

“And then it’s about finding a way to deal with high-performance sport and family, putting that together. For me, it’s a challenge to make the training as effective as possible. And it’s one I really enjoy.

“I compare it to the situation when we started again after she became a mom. When I talked to her, I said ‘hey, just call me when you are able to do 20 hours a week of training again over a constant spell’.’ And then basically at one point I got a message saying ‘hey coach, look at Training Peaks’. And then I saw it. And that’s basically how we are working.

“So a completely different way than with the other athletes but I think both sides enjoy it and respect it.”

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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