Mike Phillips is a professional IRONMAN triathlete based in Christchurch, New Zealand and a Formthotics sponsored athlete. Mike had based himself in Europe during the New Zealand winter for intensive blocks of training and racing in previous seasons. Being unable to travel internationally for the past 12-months, we checked with Mike to see how he is getting on and how he keeps challenging himself!
What has the lack of travel done for competition?
Traditionally competition for me as an international triathlete has involved travelling all around the world to events. The landscape for competition has evolved significantly with the worldwide pandemic. Travel is restricted, and mass participation events are limited. We are fortunate with the progression of technology in recent years; there is now the ability to race on virtual platforms. Although this is not the same as real-world events, it has helped keep a healthy competition amongst professional athletes worldwide.
Have you become more creative to simulate races?
I have created various challenges for myself on top of the virtual racing to fill the void of a lack of events. I have looked to local challenges, and these may have been half marathons, mountain bike adventures or Strava segments on my favourite training routes. Some of these challenges have been on my to-do list for a long time, but with a busy race season, I had never had the time to be able to complete them.
How do you diversity your training when you’re unable to race/train in different locations?
With some of the different challenges, I had set myself, it has necessitated some changes in my training to prepare. I have been riding the mountain bike a lot more to develop my skills ahead of some of the local trips we did (Old Ghost Road, Paparoa Track, Wharfedale Track, St James Cycle Trail, Nydia Track).
Also, preparing for a local off-road half marathon, I ran a lot more on the trails and at the beach on uneven surfaces. It was also great to provide some different scenery to my usual training locations and keep training interesting.
Do you have any advice for up and coming triathletes who cannot race or train to their full extent?
Create your own challenges to keep yourself focused and motivated. Even if you are in a home-bound lockdown, you could target several virtual racing/challenges on Zwift. If you can get outside locally, try to support your local events. Even if it is not something you would not usually compete in, it may provide the challenge you require to stay motivated.