Monday, February 1, 2016

What We Learned from Kona this Year

by Marilyn Chychota

While this year's Kona has already started to fade from most triathletes' memories, if you plan on racing there next year, it's important to start thinking about some of the challenges inherent in such a big event now.

This past season I had a full range of athlete situations going into Kona. From heavy year-long race seasons, to low racing, to big specific builds for the big day. What follows are some of the main themes we learned from athletes across my squad.

  • While you must go into Kona very fit, do not confuse that with tired. You need to be fit, but fresh! To race the best in the world you must have a very high level of preparation, not be over done or even more importantly not be over raced. Kona is later in the year so it can be tricky to not show up there with too many miles or races in the legs.

  • On the flip side, some sharpening racing is important leading in. If you solely focus on a big build there is an element of race conditioning that will be missing. For a race as hard and fast as Kona, it is key to have a few sharpening races leading in.

  • Having air conditioning in your living situation is key. You must be able to recover when hanging out. If your accommodation is sweltering hot it will take away from your race. Book your accommodation early and be sure it has AC.

  • Swim in the pool the day before race day, not on the course. It's so busy and congested with traffic that the stress is tiring and the risk of a head on collision with other swimmers is high. Avoid the washing machine and head to the pool.

Kona is a tough race. Remember you will need to bring your A game and be ready for anything. This requires the readiness to cope with any conditions thrown your way. Expect it to be hard, but avoid getting caught up in other peoples races. Stick to your plan!

While these are some things we learned across my squad with a focus on Kona, all of these tips are applicable if you're heading into a big event with a stacked field. And if you are an athlete that has the opportunity to make Kona your main focus of the year, plan your year carefully. Being specific with details will ensure you have your best day possible at the biggest show in our sport.


Marilyn Chychota has been in elite sport since the age of 9, from show jumping to cycling and triathlon. Competing on an international stage in all three sports with an Ironman title, several podiums and state championships in cycling, Marilyn works with all distance and level of triathletes and cyclists. From beginners to elites; short course, bike racing, stage racing and long course triathlon, she has guided several athletes to the podium and to Hawaii qualifications.
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