Michi Weiss storms to a 3rdplace finish at Ironman 70.3 St.George 2018 behind Sanders and Kienle
3 Races, 3 Podiums
On Saturday 5thMay in St.George, Utah, SRM sponsored triathlete, Michi Weiss, grabbed his 3rdconsecutive podium of the 2018 season in Ironman 70.3 racing, having already picked up a 2ndat IM 70.3 Campeche in March and 2ndat IM Texas 70.3 last month. It has been a stellar start to the season.
In this article I want to take you through Michi’s overall performance at St.George, a performance which saw him exit the water around 3 minutes down on the leading swimmers after a solid 00:26:39 wetsuit swim, going on to post the 3rdfastest bike split in 2:02:31 and then to lay down the fastest run split of the day in 1:10:41 to come in only 2 minutes down on Lionel Sanders and just 36 seconds behind Sebastian Kienle – both of whom were losing ground to Michi in the latter stages.
The SRM power file:
The jagged pink line above is Michi’s SRM power trace from the race. We can see that there are 4 very clearly delineated sections – the first 30 minutes or so where he starts hard, well above 400W, and then finds his rhythm and sustainable power, which may be as low as 340W or as high as 370W on the day all depending on his freshness and condition. Today it was clearly going to be a good day, as once he had settled down into an effort he felt able to sustain for the distance (Michi likes to keep an eye on his rolling average watts during a race), it looked like being a 360 -370W day which is always good for the confidence as very few triathletes in the sport today can maintain those sort of numbers for too long.
Note how Michi allows his power to rise on the last climb averaging 410W for almost 15 minutes and maintaining an incredible 27 km/h up a consistent 4% incline. He must have been feeling especially strong at this late stage in the race in order to willingly go into the red (he was above his threshold power all the way up this climb). This is also highlighted by his ability to ‘recover’ at 330W for much of the descent where his speed was touching 80 km/h in parts!
Peaking is about saving your best for the races!
As always, Michi used his prodigious power on the bike very smoothly considering the 1 loop St. George bike leg is anything but, as the shark’s tooth profile highlights. It was not all steady riding though, not by any means. The spikes we see in the power trace are micro-efforts that are often required to cleanly overtake other athletes, often those who swim faster but lack Michi’s bike strength. What is very satisfying to see however, are the peak performances Michi achieved (see above) when it mattered most ie during an important race. So often our age group athletes post their best performances of the year in training sessions and not in their A-races. It takes experience and confidence to hold that 5% back in training knowing that it will be there when you really need it.
When Less is More
Michi posted the fastest run of the day – 01:10:41 - a full minute faster than Sanders and 2.5 minutes faster than Kienle and underpinning that performance was a YTD average of just 56km and a frequency of just 3.5 running sessions per week and even that modest volume was executed at easiest end of the intensity spectrum.
Training NOT straining
Indeed, due to study and lecture commitments relating to Michi’s pursuit of fully accreditated physical therapist status in Active Release Techniques (ART), training time has been necessarily reduced. This has been on going since last year but we have noticed that less hours combined with more cross training in the form of cross country skiing combined with a much more polarized approach to training intensity distribution than ever before, has resulted in an altogether flatter and more aerobic power curve on the bike (see below) as well as better running efficiency.
Less sprint ability but more aerobic power
No Training ‘Arms Race’ here!
There is no doubt that Michi is now in the shape of his life as he moves into his 37thyear. Indeed the training and racing numbers he is currently producing are the best we have ever seen from him. Yet this form is a result of smarter training (layered on top of a lifetime of high levels of physical activity) and not following the usual triathlete modus operandi of adding both volume and often intensity to what is often an already fatigued body in the hope of forcing it into greater fitness. Indeed as you can see below, recovery has been as important as stimulus in Michi’s build this year. This was certainly not always the case in years gone by. Furthermore, intensity has been very carefully and judiciously managed so that hard sessions are truly hard but few and far between, whilst so called ‘race pace’ or ‘threshold’ sessions form almost no part of Michi’s training these days.
Building and recovering – we take both very seriously!
Anyone looking closely at this chart above might notice that not only are easier ‘unloading’ weeks a very key feature of Michi’s training, but that the bulk of each bar representing one week of training is shaded in very light pink - which represents heart rate Zone 1 (55-73% of HRmax) and this forms the bulk of the overall volume. It is this strict adherence to easy aerobic volume that I believe has had the greatest impact on Michi’s form this year together with the almost total omission of energy sapping race pace work – which quite frankly, is just not hard enough to cause an adaptive response in Michi’s highly trained body. To this end, we keep the easy sessions easy (and long) and the hard sessions really hard and short. It seems to be working just fine!
It’s not all about the bike………or the swim or the run!
Congratulations to Michi on an amazing start to his season and we wish him even more success as the season unfolds! Thank you as always for letting us look into not only his race performance but also the training that produces it.
Sports Scientist and Coach