Monday, February 1, 2016

Your Kona Push: Big Season Planning

by Sue Aquila

In 2011, I aged up to the women's 45-49 year old age group. My family and my support team decided 2012 was the year to push for a slot. It required some serious commitment in planning, time, equipment and finances. I didn't write down my qualification plan but it was structured much like a business plan.

The first thing I did -- after a family intervention -- was purchase a new “superbike.” As a smaller woman, I could no longer deny that weight and aerodynamics matter. I upgraded to an all carbon frame, carbon wheelset with the new PowerTap G3 hub.

The second thing I did was commit to improving my swim. I found a great swim coach at Indiana University and she bought into my goal and made me a better swimmer through almost weekly lessons. I will never rip the swim, but I am very confident now that I will "do no damage" to my race.

The third and most important thing was to lay out my year. I planned the following:

January: Two weeks in the sun with one of those weeks being high volume training.
February: One week high volume training with the Endurance Corner crew at EC Tucson.
April: Galveston 70.3. This was a perfect race to check my progress.
May: Ironman Texas
July: Muncie 70.3
Aug: Ironman Louisville

There are a few things to note about this plan:

  • Choose your best friends wisely. I am fortunate that my best friends purchased a condo in the Cayman Islands and they have lovingly allowed me to store a bike there for training. Huge impact on my year round fitness and mood in the winter.

  • Choose your peer group wisely. I can't emphasize enough the importance of attending a camp with my coach and the other members of our team. All the coaches could eyeball my form and make technical adjustments as needed. Scared to attend a camp because you might not be fast enough? I am a great example of often being the slowest one at camp despite being a fast woman in my age group. Everyone is supportive whether I rock the workout or finish dead last.

  • Choose your races wisely. A 70.3 race during your prep period is essential not only for the fitness stimulus but also for a gut check on your progress. Ideally, the race you choose will have similar weather conditions as your Ironman. Plus there is nothing like the adrenaline rush of a race to remind you why you are out there every day.

As you can see, my commitments for the year were big. As I have written before, everyone needs to buy in: your partner, your coach, your job/business and the rest of your friends/family. It really took a village this year.

The best part? I qualified for Kona the first time at Ironman Texas 2012. This article was written while flying at 34,000 feet on my way to the 2012 Ironman World Championships.

Have a plan, work your plan and live the dream.


Sue started her triathlon journey with a 50lb weight loss and continues as a Kona qualifier. As a successful entrepreneur, she believes that, “You can run your business like your training and your training like your business!” As a coach (USAT Certified), she helps athletes to develop success in all areas of their lives: family, health and work. She blogs regularly at fewoman.com. You can find her on Twitter @fewoman.
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