Kristian Blummenfelt talks through his performance at Ironman 70.3 Bahrain where he broke his own World Record, to take the win for the third consecutive year. You'll get the low down on:
- Why his watts are so low on his Strava file from the race
- His thoughts on lead motorbikes being 'part of the game'
- Why he believes Norway go in to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics with a massive advantage
- Why he'd love to give the Ironman World Championships a crack in 2020, if he were to win Olympic gold
- He also talks very openly about guilty feelings towards training and switching off over the festive period and the mental struggles of going easy on easy days
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INTERVIEW TIME LINE*
*Interview times, not the whole episode
00:00 –Kristian talks about a few easier days, with training reduced by 50% following his race at Ironman 70.3 Bahrain.
02:00 – “My power metre didn’t want to connect and my heart rate was going in and out, I was riding a lot of the bike leg blind, I think my average power was 200 watts. But the conditions were good and the motorbike filming in front at some points, enabled some good drafting from it, which helped me a little bit and we were taking it in turns, so we were sharing the work.”
03:41 Would it not annoy you if you were further back and you weren’t behind the motorbike? “It would annoy me if I was further back, but it is a part of the race and if you expect there will be a motorbike in front, then it’s your responsibility to get there and take advantage of it. As long as you are just riding straight forward, you can’t really blame the cyclists either, so you are just riding there and if you have a motorbike 10 or 12m in front, it’s a part of the game too.”
04:30 How did you feel coming off the bike? “We had a tail wind on the way back and I was feeling good, even better than some of the other guys and I almost felt like I was going through two hours of cycling, almost without getting any fatigue. I felt good in the last part, so I was expecting to feel fresh going into the run and I got an easy gap going out of T2 and I knew that for every km I was doing 3.10 per km, I was putting at least 10s into the guys.”
05:50 on going for a 1.06 run. “This year I was running inside the comfort zone, without really taking any risks. I think I could have gone faster on the run, but that would have cost me more after the race too. I was running on the watch and on feel. I have hit 3.09/km pace in all of my race pace training session on the treadmill, so I just tried to find that rhythm and run as easy as possible and get in enough liquid in the aid stations and taking my gels, I had 4 gels. I was counting down to each mark which made it easier mentally.”
07:30 on messing up his nutrition during his first Ironman 70.3 “I thought sports drink on the bike would be enough and one gel on the run which I was thinking of taking half way through. With 5k to go I had nothing left and with 3 or 4 km to go I went back into my pocket to find my gel and I thought I don’t need my gel, I have 12 or 13 minutes of running left, but with 800 to 1km to go, I wasn’t even sure if I would make it to the finish line! That’s what we changed for 2018, to get more calories in on the bike and use more gels on the run. So I went from one gel in total over the whole race, to 7. I was almost gaining weight during the 70.3! But it makes it easier mentally when you are breaking it down (with nutrition) ah ok, I will allow myself a gel in 20minutes.
09:30 would you have done the same run split had you not had the motorbike or the others to work with? “Yes and I think I could have gone quicker. It actually felt like perfect Ironman pace at one stage. “
10:30 How quick do you think you can go? “This year we turned around a little bit earlier on the bike course, compared to last year. So I guess you would have to add like 3 minutes in to the overall time for a fair comparison, so I reckon I was 30s or so under the previous time. If I had a really good battle with Gustav (Iden) or if there was a Championship race there, I think I could go 2-3 minutes under the record.”
11:15 Do you care about World Records? “Titles are more important than world records, so being a world champion or an Olympic champion. You want to beat the best buys on the biggest day, that’s more important, but it’s always fun to go fast.”
12:15 on beating the relay team including Mark Cavendish and Mo Farah. Farah was running faster than me, but he went wrong on the run course and so he lost some time there. On the last lap, just before the 20km mark, he was getting closer to me, but then on the last lap I was way ahead of him. I had a small chat with him at the finish line and I guess he was expecting me to run a similar time to last year (when I did 1.06) so I guess it wasn’t a huge surprise and I guess he was running faster than that.
14:00 “I don’t know how hard Cav was riding compared to us, it was not like a championship race for him, he was more there for his sponsorship obligations. I guess if I had to beat him, I would have to turn up to a bike race one day.” Would you like to do that one day? “It would be nice and it would be cool, but it’s a very different race.”
14:45 “I’m pleased to have my Ironman 70.3 World Championship qualification done now. Qualification actually finishes early, perhaps a bit before the Olympics, so it’s good to have that done. I think a lot of ITU guys want to try to the 70.3 out, maybe because of what happened in Nice, so I think they think it’s good to combine the two.”
15:15 Will you spend a bit more time on your TT bike ahead of the 70.3 World Championships next year? “For sure! 5 or 6 sessions isn’t enough. I should have spent more time on it before [the ITU Grand Final in] Lausanne  and the World Championship.
16:00 Will he race Kona in 2020? “I think if I win the Olympics, it would be really cool to give Kona a try the same year as nobody has been able to do that before, but at the moment, it’s all about focussing on the Olympics.”
16:45 On the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. “Other than experience, I can’t take much from Rio 2016 into Tokyo. I was quite disappointed after Rio. My goal was to win the race or get a medal, so finishing 2, 3 or 4 minutes back was really disappointing. So from then on I tried to forget it and I tried to on Tokoyo. The big difference now is that we have had 4 years to focus on the Olympics, rthath than developing and having to qualify. Last time I was going from the junior stage and trying to get into the WTS. When the Olympic qualification started last time, I wasn’t even high enough ranked to get into the races, so even in 2015, I was travelling to Australia and New Zealand to do four race without being on the start list for any of them. I just had to hope that on race week I would be able to get in. This time it’s more relaxed and it feels like we have more time to prepare for the race.”
19:00 “The British [men] seem to be at that stage again now and they have to think a bit more about qualifying rather than being able to perform on the day. And that could be a bit of a disadvantage. “
20:00 “In the Olympics, the bigger nations have fewer athletes, so suddenly we [as Norway] are stronger. Finishing Norway 1-2-3 is the big goal of the team. Obviously we all want to win the race, but we just disagree on the order. Doing that would just make the whole process a massive highlight in life. You couldn’t really get much bigger than that, on a day that shouldn’t really suit us, on the warmest day ever, with us coming from Norway!”
21:30 Talks about testing in the lab and his V02 being around 90. “To finally be able to break 90 was good for me mentally too. I had 90 once before, but that was because the sports scientist forgot to change the weight. So it was really cool to get there, but again it’s not performing in the lab, its about performing in the races. We try to use the numbers in training, so we can make progress. I don’t think we will spend much time in the lab between now and the games. One of our strengths is that we can bring the lab outside into our own training and we can test after sessions without being in the lab, so it gives us an indication of where we are. “
24:15 – we talk about genetics and whether his genetics play a part in his performance. “Its really hard to say, I would like to think it’s purely the training because and the way we approach it, always we do a little bit more, a little bit extra a little bit longer than everyone else and we are always willing to do a little bit extra over years and I think that’s what makes the difference.”
25:30 On the festive season: “The serious training will start over Christmas. But we keep things fun, at the pool we do different sorts of relays and one of the games over the last few years has been a diving game.
28:30 Can you switch off over Christmas? “It depends if I have been able to have a good training session in the morning and get the job done, then it’s easier to relax, but if you are feeling tired and unable to do the session as planned, then its really easy to feel guilty when you are eating Christmas food. It doesn’t take much time to feel fat and unfit, so it depends on the training rhythm. If I gain half a kilo, I really feel bad for it. Maybe it’s a good thing, because then you are going back into hard work after. “
30:00 The guilt of not training: "Every time you have a few days without proper training, it’s so easy to start to feel guilty for not doing the work properly. You feel like you are skipping a session, even though you are following a plan. Maybe that’s the hardest part of being an athlete, taking it easy when you are supposed to take it easy. If I am in a massive training block, then I will regret that I didn’t take it easier to relax when I had the chance. I do nothing when it’s time to relax, so I find it nice to do nothing when I have the chance to do nothing.
32:00 Guilty pleasure on the turbo – sometimes I just listen to a song and put it on repeat for 20 minutes, but the worst thing is I can’t remember the lyrics, even though I’ve been listening to it 10 times in a row. I just like the rhythm! So something like Kenny Rogers The Gambler or Tom Odell Another Love.