In between the swim and the run, the cycling phase is the longest leg of the triathlon. This demanding phase makes up about fifty percent of a triathlete's total race. In episode 4 of The Road to Kona series, Craig Alexander takes us through his ride so we can see what it takes to complete the biggest piece of the ironman puzzle.
In between all of his running and swimming, Craig Alexander has to fit in anywhere from 17 to 25 hours a week of cycling training. He explains to us how the sessions are broken down and how every component fits together.
To develop the endurance required for the 180 km cycle leg, Craig puts in long sessions on the bike at low intensity. For strength training, his sessions are shorter with a focus on hills and overloading his legs. To train for speed, Craig will do very short intervals at maximum effort.
If any of this sounds straightforward, Craig reminds us in this episode about the challenges of balancing output between the three phases of the ironman. Too much of a push in the swim phase can cost dearly during the ride phase, so it is essential that he always balances his efforts.
Craig Alexander also responds in this episode to some of his opponents' critiques. Craig makes the point that you can't be an ironman champion with only one strong suit. It takes mastering all three phases to be a true triathlete.
Leading up to the race in Kona, Craig Alexander works on his mental preparation as much as the physical. He acknowledges that the ride phase can be especially taxing with long hours spent alone, often going against the trade winds, which can be particularly demoralizing. Against every element, Craig Alexander must always be prepared.