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Joanna Brown prepares for season opener at WTS Abu Dhabi

A check-in with Joanna Brown as she heads to WTS Abu Dhabi for her first race of the year

Tell us about how training is going in Arizona; obviously this environment is working well for you given your success last year. What is it about the current training situation that is clicking so well for you? 

I can’t give away all of my secrets…but training has been going quite well the past few weeks in Arizona. I had a little bump in the road in late December when I fell backwards off a box doing box jumps and landed straight on my wrist. It was later confirmed to be a fracture of the distal radius and I had to restrict movement of my wrist for four weeks. It definitely was not ideal, but I did my best to adapt and was able to do all of my training somewhat normally with a few modifications. I wanted to keep it low key and not stress about something that I couldn’t control.

As for the environment, I continue to love the weather and the trails of Arizona, and being able to train outside and in a warm environment over the winter has a big impact on mood and on recovery for me. My training partners are also absolutely amazing, and I’m inspired every day by Kirsten Kasper and Chelsea Burns and the new additions to the group. The squad has grown a fair bit this year and it has been a big change, but the core values of consistency and health have been maintained. The season I had last year was a reflection of many years of hard work and guidance from excellent coaches. I’ve been extremely fortunate to always be surrounded by a great team and I’m really excited to see what more we can accomplish this year.

There are some strong women on the WTS Abu Dhabi start line, but you’ve proven you’re up at that level now. How are you feeling heading into the race and what are your expectations?

The first race of the season is aways difficult, as after a four month hiatus the body tends to lose a bit of feel for the intensity of racing. Honestly, racing a WTS in March is brand new to me and last year I used the momentum of the season to keep improving incrementally race after race. I’m going to approach Abu Dhabi like I would any other race, and just put myself in a position to have my best race on the day. I’ve made the mistake before of putting too much pressure on the first race of the season and using it as the only indication of how all of my off season training has gone, but Abu Dhabi will be a tool moving forward to see where my areas of weakness are for the Commonwealth Games.

What have you been working hardest at over the winter?

One thing that I have come to realize as the seasons roll by is that the winter is a time to reset and refocus mentally, but for ITU athletes it is only really about 12 weeks of training. It is a good block of time to buckle down and get in some solid work, but a lot of gains are made throughout the season when you race and rest more frequently. I really enjoy off season training but my favourite part of the year is when we start rolling through races! In terms of focus, we spent the month of December riding exclusively on cyclocross bikes, and although I missed my mountain bike terribly it was great rehearsal of technical skills necessary for road riding. I’ve continued to chip away at my swimming and work on my resilience on the run. Strength has been a big theme for me, and I’m always trying to get stronger and be more powerful in all three disciplines

Heading into the Commonwealth Games in April, what do you need to do to get on that podium?

For the Commonwealth Games, the swim is going to key for me and what will set me up well for the race. The bike course is fast and technical, so staying engaged throughout the bike and keeping the pace high will be important. At the end of the day, I love competing, and I am going to do everything I can to get to the run in a position where I can compete for a spot on the podium.