'The Man' is back: Dave Scott's return to Kona

Dave Scott  Credit: Gary Newkirk/Allsport
In an exclusive three-part interview, Competitor publisher Bob Babbitt talks with legendary triathlete Dave Scott who, at age 47, is returning to Kona this year. Bob discusses with Dave his motivation, training regimen and expectations.

Bob Babbitt: Dave, why are you doing Ironman this year?

Dave Scott: Very simply, I'm running out of years. In 1996 when I was 42, I never thought it would be my last Ironman. In 1996, I felt I was at my optimal fitness, even though I came in fifth. It was just one of those days where everything didn't click until I got to the run and I was able to salvage a pretty decent day. Five years have gone by, and I think I have to recognize the reality of age. My time to be competitive in this race is getting short. I can't let another year go by. This is the year and my motivation is very high.

BB: How has the event changed since 1980?

DS: People don't wear tube socks, and they don't tape their feet on their bikes with duct tape like I did in 1980. A friend actually taped my feet onto my pedals. It was the most severe pain I had from 56 miles on. It cut off my blood flow. I couldn't wait to get my feet out of my shoes. Technology has changed a tad, and athletes now have a better understanding how to train. They appreciate all of the components of training from massage to recovery to diet to training periodization to weight training. I think I was a bit ahead of my peers when I started doing the Ironman in that I had been an endurance athlete for a long time. I didn't perceive the race as a survival event in 1980. Even then, I felt I was going to race this thing.

BB: You have clearly been a leader in incorporating nutrition into your training. What major advances in nutrition have taken place since you started competing?

DS: From my perspective, the biggest advance has been in post-exercise nutrition. When I started in 1976, people said you need to eat after exercising. The problem is that could mean a big bag of potato chips or Oreos. Intuitively, knew they weren't the best foods to eat after a workout.

Research showed how important the 30- to 60-minute interval after exercise is with regard to muscle replenishment. I was also fascinated by work coming out of Dr. John Ivy's lab measuring the effect of a new sports drink, Endurox R4, on post-exercise recovery. Unlike conventional sports drinks, this product contained a 4-1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein, which greatly accelerated muscle glycogen replenishment and reduced post-exercise muscle damage. The research showed this product could significantly improve performance in the next workout, so I incorporated Endurox R4 into my training program.

I had an acute interest not only in the academic work, but also in what works in competition and training. Endurox R4 works. Competing in Ironman at age 47 is a difficult challenge in itself, so I try to incorporate the latest science and products into my training.

BB: In what other ways have you incorporated recovery into your training?

DS: The big change here relates to the training routine. It's evolved over the years from just doing huge volume getting in x number of miles at the same intensity and in the same gear to varying your workout load. You have to change muscle recruitment. The subtle changes in muscle recruitment you do during training expand your capacity to work at slightly different workloads, which is critical in a race. I think a lot of athletes don't do this, and when they get off the bike, they have difficulty running. You've got to integrate different types of easy recovery training and interval training. I think that has been the key to my improvement and longevity in the sport.

Check back for parts two and three of this interview!

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