ATC 340: Inside Ironman St. George With Lucho – Lessons in Motivation, Self-Discovery, Perseverance and More

May 20, 2022


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On this episode of Ask the Coaches #340, we go into detail about Lucho’s day at Ironman St. George, the 2021 Ironman World Championships including a recap of his training leading up, race day and much more!

On this show:

  • Training recap–weekly volume per sport and totals, including stretch cords as a sub for pool swimming.
  • Did the same swim set consisting of 5 x 100 + 500 pull, always; lots of use of pull buoy.
  • Swam a 1:05.
  • Biking minimal until December 2021. But hated indoor riding so didn’t do too much of it.
  • Snow tires on cyclocross.
  • Only biked more than 5hrs twice.
  • Training on the bike was tough and lacked, not the proper specificity for IM.
  • FTP differences between outdoor bike vs indoor trainer, so he focused on HR instead.
  • Race day he averaged 126 bpm on the bike–he went too easy out of fear of blowing up. But also what helped was that he spent all his time training at altitude much higher than StG. Plus he was rested and intentionally went easy, yet still had a solid bike split.
  • Sold run training, which maybe had some transfer to the bike (eg many 20-milers).
  • Article that says 1 in 5 dropped out of IM StG in May 2022.
  • How to redeem yourself if you had a bad day at StG this year.
  • The shocking thing was all the difficult climbs that weren’t the main two climbs near the end… constant up and down.
  • Most important: don’t avoid hills, climb all the hills!
  • What messed him up the most on the bike was neck and trap pain.
  • The mental vs. physical…
  • Mentally on the bike: this is where it got really tough for him.
  • His family surprised him by showing up on the bike course when he didn’t expect it… and it all changed from there, he lost the urge to keep pushing hard, mentally he wasn’t in it, he was questioning why (while thinking his family was the only thing that mattered), and it was not just about finishing it and enjoying it.
  • Compared to the past Lucho who was a pro with laser focus on competing and finishing at the top, this made IM StG a very unique race experience where he just cruised and didn’t worry about performance.
  • the last time he raced an IM (as a pro) was about 15 years ago when his first son was only 6 months old.
  • Ironman is the kind of journey that will teach you what really matters. For Lucho, it became so much about family… so what it means to “do your best” has changed from then vs now.
  • Started the run solely focused on seeing his family again.
  • Very difficult run course, just up and down and very little flat. Deceiving, exposed and hot.
  • Started the run fast with low HR. Felt tight, hot, and realized that pushing it was more than he was willing to do and a place he just didn’t want to go, from both a health and mental perspective… he thought, why wreck himself? Been there, done that. No desire to do it on this day. So instead he took, yet again, the approach of enjoying it, chatting with fellow athletes and spectators, smiling, and more.
  • And yet it was still very hard, hot and difficult. Because that’s Ironman… and that’s St. George.
  • Succumbed to it and had red bull, and loved it, and even had some Gatorade instead of his maltodextrin drink.
  • Overall finish 12:03.
  • Goals and motivation… nothing aligned in the end for him.
  • How it started (i.e. dreams of qualifying for Kona) vs. how it ended (i.e. not wanting to do Kona). There was some faking it along the way, but realized that faking it is not an effective strategy.
  • So how he persevered through that and still did what he needed and honored his commitment to the race.
  • At the end of the day, we are going to care what other people think to some degree.
  • It also was about how this experience could be about bettering himself.
  • Mostly only trained when it did not impact his family, difficult to do.
  • On TSS.
  • For athletes trying to work their training around family. And how relentlessly difficult it can be to manage a busy, demanding schedule.
  • All in all, at the end of the day there were countless lessons learned and he found his WHY… and most of that took place in the year leading up to Ironman race day.
  • Lucho says this was the hardest IM course he’s done.
  • The role of the dry desert heat.
  • People need to be more gentle on themselves when it comes to their approach to Ironman.
  • Do we really need to be training all those hours that they say we need for Ironman? Lucho questions that more now…

One Comment

  • Kathy Dreiblatt says:

    I love that Lucho enjoyed himself and the race!!!!!! What a huge change to take the pressure off racing!!!!

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