3 Training Tips for Aspiring Kona Athletes

Training to qualify for a spot at the Ironman World Championships in Kona can seem like an impossible endeavor, which would require too much time and create far too much conflict for the average athlete.

And yet, the isn't out of reach, even for triathletes who have family, work or school obligations.

More: How Kona Ate My Husband

For example, Jessica Yurchich, a 24-year-old marketing executive at Rayovec, qualified for Kona by coming first in her age group at Ironman Wisconsin 2012. 

Her trick? It wasn't just hard work and dedication. She learned a few strategies along the way that also helped her reach her goal.

Get a Coach

Yurchich is hardly a newbie. She has competed in triathlons for nearly a decade and finished Ironman Wisconsin in 2008 and 2010. In short, she knows how to train.

With the lofty Kona qualifying goal looming before her, Yurchich decided to hire a coach.

Yurchich turned to Fast Forward Triathlon, which was founded by professional triathlete and doctor Eric Bean.

More: From the Coach: Ironman Run Strategies

Her coach Mike Lavery was able to provide better advice for race day, monitor and tweak her nutirition plan and adjust her workouts if she had an injury or didn't feel well. Even now, with her Kona qualifying spot secure, Yurchich says she will stick with a coach for future Ironman races.

"It was helpful for me because I had a tendency to change my training routine based on how I felt and probably didn't push myself hard enough," Yurchich said.

Intensity Over Time

Yurchich's Ironman five-month training program never exceeded 15 hours a week. In fact, it was usually far below that. In a typical week, she spent about 11 hours training, which fit easily into her work schedule.  

When she did train, the workouts were more intense. Bean, founder of Fast Forward Triathlon, developed this training philosophy and program while he raced for the TIMEX Multisport Team and earned a medical degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

More: 10 Ways to Suceed at Ironman Wisconsin

Yurchich credits the intensity of her training, not the time, for her success. She improved her Ironman finishing time by an hour and a half for a time of 11:23, and secured the top spot in her age group.

Start Brick Workouts Early

Brick workouts were a key component to Yurchich's Ironman training program. In the beginning, the brick workouts were optional. Two to three months out from the Ironman, the brick workouts became a mainstay of her training.

Yurchich would run 20 minutes to a half an hour immediately following all of her bike rides, the longest of which was about six hours.

A typical training week for Yurchich was:

  • Tuesday: Bike followed by a run;
  • Wednesday: Swim;
  • Thursday: Track workout
  • Friday: Swim
  • Saturday; Long bike followed by a run;
  • Sunday: Long run

 More: Train for an Ironman Mentality

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