On Sunday 2nd December 2018, SRM sponsored professional triathlete, Michi Weiss dominated the field in Argentina to take his sixth win of the season, and eleventh Ironman branded race (7X Ironman, 4X 70.3) of his stellar career. This victory marked the end of what was unquestionably his best ever race season, which included 9 podiums in 12 races and allows him to take a well-earned break in the knowledge that he has already qualified for both the Ironman and 70.3 World Championships in 2019. That’s a wrap folks – Well done Champ! In this article I want to look at what the SRM race file can tell us about how Michi stamped his authority on the field. I hope you find it interesting.
Swim– The air temperature at 0600 was just 10C and it was decided that the swim would be reduced to just under half distance. Before the race Michi was concerned that the rough conditions in the Atlantic Ocean course would mean he would face a very large deficit to some of the really slick front group swimmers like, Potts, O’Donnell and McNiece. As it turned out, Michi had a great swim over the shortened course and exited the water just 3 minutes down on the leaders which was never going to be enough to keep this uber biker at bay.
"The swim was on my mind a lot because it was choppy and that would favour those really fast swimmers like Potts and O’Donnell. I thought I might be facing a 10 minute time deficit" - Michael Weiss
Bike– The 3-loop, mostly flat and windy bike course was always going to be perfect for Michi as he would be able to control the race from the front by measuring his time advantage over the chasers at the start of each loop. Therefore, he made sure he quickly caught those just ahead by riding 70.3 intensity watts of around 350W and then using his trademark high power/low cadence attacks to pass and drop (and dissuade from following!) those few fast swimming athletes ahead, some of whom were very late sign-ons to this race, no doubt still basking in the glory of very good World Championship results and probably wondering to themselves what on earth they were doing standing on a cold beach in Argentina in December about to do another Ironman race! The answer of course was trying to grab an early Kona qualification slot but in truth, Michi and I did consider the possibility that these big names may be less that 100% motivated at this late stage in the year. And so it was, Michi caught them quickly and then passed them with 100 per cent commitment and was able to pull out a gap of around 8 minutes by the time he got off the bike having averaged a really solid 319W at 84rpm for a bike split of 04:14:20.
“We know that his competitors know, that when Michi passes them on the bike, if they are going to follow him then they had better be prepared to sit in a tight aero position without moving and push upwards of 400W for the next 3 minutes and then at least 300W for the next 3 or 4 hours. Happily we know that most simply cannot do that and that gives us options on the run.” - Garth Fox, Coach
Run– Michi pretty well always feels good running off the bike and tends to start fast, at least for the first 5-10km of the marathon. This race was business as usual and he clocked a swift 17:42 for the first 5km and after that was able to control the gap to the chasers due to the 3-loop format of the run course. One of the reasons that Michi has been able to put together two really strong Ironman performances in just 2 weeks is that he has used his bike power to give him a big lead going into the run which he then capitalizes on by running a fast half marathon (70.3 race pace) by which time he has effectively won the race. This allows him to ‘jog’ the second half of the run and basically run at what is recovery pace for him at around 4.20/km for the last 21km. He actually finished both IM Cozumel and IM Mar del Plata feeling pretty good!
“I did feel much more sore after this marathon than in Cozumel. Probably as I maxed it more out (still crusing in the 3rd lap), then also more variety in running speeds (slight downhill on first 5k of each lap with tailwind, followed by the opposite against the wind), and of course accumulation of fatigue/muscle damage.” - Michi Weiss
Michi came home in 02:49:11 for the run and in 07:30:11 overall to take the win by just over 9 minutes to the very fast finishing Matt Hanson. Another super race and a great way to wrap up his most successful season ever. So good was this season that I will be writing a review of his training and racing year and hopefully providing some insights into what underpins this consistent performance level – look out for the article next week!
As always, thank you to Michi for his willingness to share all aspects of his training and racing data. It is not something that we see many of the top pros doing just yet (apologies to Lionel Sanders and Cody Beals!) but we feel that reading about Michi’s abilities and replicating them are two very different things!
May the Force X Velocity be with you,
Sports scientist and high performance coach
Image credits: @guille_balmas @AndreMacMickingPhoto @cervezabaum