On October 31, 2014 we posted this interview with Lionel Sanders as he geared up for his first Ironman race as a pro. The interview offers up some interesting insights on what has made Sanders such a success in full distance racing.
“I seem to have the capacity for high volume training, and that seems to be greatly rewarded at the full distance,” he said, words that, five years later, come as a monstrous understatement for the hard-working Windsor native. “Ironman racing is how I got into triathlon, and is my passion …”
Sanders would go on to win the race in Florida after the swim was cancelled. He took the race by a whopping 19 minutes over Great Britain’s Tom Lowe.
Canadian pro Lionel Sanders gave us the low down on racing Ironman Florida this weekend.
TMC: How are you feeling about the race?
Lionel Sanders: The venue is awesome. The small town has been very welcoming. The course is flat and fast. Overall I’m in good health and feeling very rested. I’m excited to get out there and race!
TMC: What is your main goal for Saturday?
LS: My main goal is to learn as much as I possibly can. Over the year I have learned a ton about the 70.3 distance, and towards the end of the season that started to pay off. I think a lot of those lessons apply to this distance as well, but there most definitely will be many new lessons to learn.
TMC: Why did you decide on Ironman Florida as your pro Ironman race debut?
LS: I wanted to do a late season race in an attempt to get some points for Kona 2015. As well, the sooner I can begin learning the lessons I mentioned above, the better. Additionally, my mom is doing her first Ironman here as well, so I thought it would be cool for us both to do one together.
TMC: Did being a spectator in Kona get you revved up and ready to go?
LS: Kona certainly increased my motivation for this race. As well, it showed me that you need to be very patient and disciplined. There were a lot of high-end athletes out there who were walking and puking. It seems that the most disciplined athletes (nutrition, wattage on the bike, run paces etc.) tend to do the best.
TMC: How has your training been different for this race compared to preparing for a 70.3? Do you prefer one kind of training over the other?
LS: The biggest difference was the duration of workouts. For instance, in 70.3 my average run workout would be 25 kilometers. Whereas for the full distance I am averaging 35-40 kilometers per run workout. Because of this, my easier days go even easier, so that my total volume didn’t increase much. As well, “quality” work on the bike and run is a bit slower / at a reduced wattage. I still kept maintaining the real high end, but race pace intervals were definitely slower, as the intention is to hold them for significantly longer. Overall, I would say I prefer Ironman training. I seem to have the capacity for high volume training, and that seems to be greatly rewarded at the full distance. Ironman racing is how I got into triathlon, and is my passion, so these last six weeks of training have been very enjoyable for me.