Subaru talks with Braden Currie about his Kona World Ironman Champs build-up
Subaru brand ambassador Braden Currie is competing in the world’s toughest endurance race - the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii on October 14 (NZ time). It will be his second attempt at the 3.8km ocean swim, 180km road bike ride and 42.2km run in the hot, humid conditions.
His debut there last year was punishing, with a puncture when he was at the front of the bike effectively ending his dream of a top ten finish. Fitter than ever this year, he is back with a score to settle on this volcanic island and keen to measure himself again against the fastest Ironmen on the planet.
Subaru of New Zealand caught up with him a fortnight out from the race.
How were you feeling after the World IRONMAN 70.3 Championships in South Africa, last month, where you placed eighth?
To be honest I was feeling pretty good about it. I made a few small mistakes during the race that really affected my race and had I not made them, then potentially I could be closer to that front group on the bike. Everything else stacked up really well – my swim and my run.
I lost a fair bit of time on the bike but mostly because I hadn’t made that group through transition. So, I didn’t feel too bad about it and stayed pretty positive about it. That meant I could get back into training and things went a bit smoother.
What's your post-race schedule like - do you get to take it easy for a few days to recover?
Normally I take a couple of days in the location I am in before I travel home to try and get the body back a little bit. Once I’m home or into a training location, I kick straight into it and push pretty hard for a few days, to let the body not relax too much and try to get some gains back so I don’t just slip away. After three or four days training, I recover during the end of that week.
Can you describe your training load heading into Kona?
For the last two and a half weeks since 70.3 Worlds it’s been a pretty big load. About 35 hours a week of training – a lot of that is made up of biking, so you can click up a lot of hours when you go and do six-hour rides everyday.
It is a lot of variation trying to work different groups of muscles. Different sessions to try and train different body compositions; oxygen; VO2 max; strength and endurance. Just trying to change it up every day.
Does it make a big difference to your mental game having raced there last year?
It does. I feel a lot more confident about racing there this year. I know that my swim is there at the front of the race. I just know the environment. I know the terrain. I know what is coming.
Last year was pretty challenging but I had to finish that race just to get the experience and now it’s about racing it and I feel confident that I can. I think it definitely gave me a big boost and I’m a step ahead of last year.
What is your main focus for this year's race?
Just trying to get into the front of that race and be there and be competitive. You never know when you race Kona, it’s just such a deep field of incredible athletes. They are all going to be there pushing so hard to win. It’s what they live for.
At the end of the day I feel like my strength is endurance - I get better and better as the day goes on. So if I can make sure I am in the race early on and get into the depth of that ride and still be well and truly within the front of the race, then I feel like it should be a pretty good day.
How can your fans follow the race?
There’s going to be a really good feed this year on Facebook, so if you search Ironman Live World Champs there will be live streaming of the race all day.
On my social media channels there will be updates coming through on those too.
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How do you manage to achieve a work/family life balance around your training?
It’s a challenging one. Obviously I’m very lucky to be able to come and train in environments where my two kids and my wife Sally can be a part of what I do. I couldn’t do it without them being a part of it.
I wouldn’t like the thought of heading to the United States by myself, or something like that, for weeks on end. I like having the family with me for lot of the time and they have the understanding that some days I’m going to be pretty flat, pretty tired. Other days I’ll try and make up for the times when I’ve been battling. I’m lucky to have them and they also bring balance to my life.
What are you looking forward to doing back in New Zealand once the race is over?
I’m excited about getting home and enjoying some summer and not having to train in such a disciplined schedule. Getting out in the Subaru and doing a few good missions is probably the most exciting thing. I’ll probably head out into the hills for a bit.
Currie is currently in Hawaii tapering his training programme down to be in peak condition for next weekend and acclimatising to the fierce heat in Kona. Subaru of New Zealand wishes him all the best for his Ironman World Championships race in 11 days time.