Training with the starsJanuary 24, 2011
After a nice and appreciated Christmas holiday back in Denmark (and lots of snow) the whole Henning family returned to Playitas on January 2nd. Since then the weather has been perfect. No rain, hardly any wind, only a few cloudy days and lots of sun. It's a bit chilly in the mornings (12-15 degrees celcius :-)) and up till 25 degrees during the day. Perfect for training.
Training has been going well lately and many of the European triathlon hot shots have either been here or are planning to come here to train. It’s long distance guys like the Raelert brothers, Vanhoenacker, Bracht, Raphael, Hellriegel, Stadler, Kienle and Ospaly and my training partner through many years, Marko Albert. Of the short distance guys are fellow Specialized athlete Javier Gomez, Daniel Unger + other Germans and Rudi Wild.
I've been swimming a little with the Raelerts and there is a good training culture among us pro's that we can train together if there is an opportunity and it doesn't conflict with our personal programs. It's nice to have such an array of raw talent around me and it makes up for an inspiring environment.
I stick to my own schedule but if it fits in I welcome the other pro's to train with me. As long as we're careful not to turn the sessions into races :-) I mostly train with Marko Albert who has been a long time friend, and the Danish national team when they are here.
Season plan 2011
My season plan for 2011 will be put on my website during this week, but a general thing for me in 2011 is that I won't be competing at the full iron distance before Hawaii on October 8.
After last year's race in Kona I've decided with my coach Michael Krüger to have an even clearer focus on Hawaii. I feel even more motivated to get out there and show that last year did not at all present to the World what kind of an athlete Rasmus Henning is. I didn’t feel that my big victory in Challenge Roth in July 2010 affected my build up to Hawaii in any negative way, but you can't rule out that it has meant something to both my physical and mental health and preparations either.
In 2011 I will focus on shorter races leading up to Hawaii in October and I'm hoping that this will make me extra sharp on race day. At least I will know that I'll be 101 percent fit and ready both physically and mentally fight for the biggest of all trophies.
It has been difficult to find a reason why it went as it did in Kona last year. It's a well known thing in elite sports - and especially in Hawaii - that the winner is often one without a big win earlier in the season. Jan Frodeno at the Beijing Olympics and now Macca in Ironman Hawaii last year are good examples. It's only natural to focus on the ones with big performances in the months leading up to a big event, but it's often the ones who have not performed yet in the season that ends up bringing on that little extra come raceday.
Raelert with all the pressure - Macca with no pressure
In the end it all comes down to who wants it more. Hawaii has since 2009 been my most important race and there is no doubt that I have been - and still am - very hungry for the win. I think that most athletes will tend to feel that their season has already been more than satisfying if they get that great win like I did in Challenge Roth in July - regardless of how things turn out later in the season. But along with big wins come expectations - both your own and those from others - and along with that comes pressure and stress, and I guess that was what happened to me at Ironman Hawaii 2010.
It shouldn't really mean the difference between success and failure, but there is a fine line between the two in Kona. And it could be a factor to keep in mind: The added pressure and stress can be things that make it go from bad to worse to disastrous when things don't go according to plan as it happened for me right from the gun.
It might also have had a role in the IronWar 2 between Macca and Raelert. Raelert had smashed the field (and Macca) at Ironman Frankfurt earlier in 2010, whereas Macca to his standards had a quite mediocre season leading up to Hawaii. This allowed him to fly under the radar while Raelert not only had to deal with the media pressure after his good season and his podium in the debut in 2009 - he also had to deal with the expectations of a nation. Macca, on the other hand, wasn’t the pick of too many people, including myself I’m almost embarrassed to admit! Not many thought he would be up there in front near the end, and the Aussies had a Three-Pete opportunity in Craig Alexander.
Focus on the shorter distances
This year I'll put more focus on shorter distances and I will have more races on the half iron-distance (and even shorter) to try to regain the speed and power I brought with me from short distance in 2009 and which I can feel I have lost a little. It is really important at Ironman Hawaii with the first hour of the bike being paced really hard. It's going to be close at the end as well, as we saw it with Macca’s win in October and I need to be able to run down the others and finish off almost like it was an Olympic distance race.
New Shiv ready in Playitas
I have finally received my new Specialized Shiv and it is ready to rock with Sram components and Zipp wheels. It has been under way for a month and was stuck in the Spanish customs in three weeks which was pretty annoying. Now this will be my Europe TT bike and the one from last year, which I left in the States after IM Arizona will stay there, so I can use it in the two 70.3 races I will compete in during April. (70.3 Oceanside April 2 and 70.3 Texas April 10).
At those races Specialized will be present with their support truck so I'll have the optimal setup when racing in the States. We have a very good team surrounding us Specialized athletes and I'm looking forward to racing in America and support the team and the team spirit we're all (athletes and staff) are such a big part of.
New core training
Last week I had a lot of testing done with two Danish physios from 4700fys <http://www.4700fys.dk/> . We had a lot of core and muscle testing and treadmill running to see how my abdomen and back muscles work. Too bad I didn’t have my TT bike yet so we could test on that one as well.
After a lot of testing we decided that I'll do my core and stability training on a swissball in the future. There could be a connection between my core stability and the back and pelvis problems I have had for many years, and I'm looking forward to seing how it all turns out over the coming months.
Abu Dhabi is the first race of 2011 - Best field outside Hawaii
Like last year my first race will be the Abu Dhabi International Triathlon <http://www.abudhabitriathlon.com/> with a 3 km swim, a massive 200 km on the bike and a fast 20 km run. I finished 3rd in the inaugural race last year after Eneko Llanos and Dirk Bockel and the field is very strong again this year.
Other than myself there is a long list of top contenders: Eneko Llanos, Marino Van Hoenacker, Dirk Bockel, Timo Bracht, Martin Jensen, Faris Al-Sultan, Raynard Tissink and probably Pete Jacobs. It will for sure be the most competitive fields outside of Hawaii and I'm looking forward to it.
I was pretty satisfied with my performance last year. I probably had my best bike performance of the year while my running was a little below my usual level. My preparations this year have been far better with all the training in the good Playitas/Fuerteventura weather and I'll be doing a lot of longer rides before Abu Dhabi. Last year I didn't have that many long rides so I feel better prepared this year and I'm usually strong in the first part of the season.