Ever wondered how a world-class elite athlete prepares and trains for key events? Just like everything in life, training programmes and goals constantly evolve. Braden Currie recently triumphed with a top five finish at the Kona World Ironman Championships. We take a look at his road to success.
Braden’s achievement at the World Champs was a truly gutsy performance. It was only his second time racing this gruelling event that takes the world’s top professional athletes many attempts to master.
Finishing the best of the Kiwis, he managed to hold off American athlete Matt Russell by a mere four seconds – exerting an effort so great that he needed an intravenous drip inserted straight after he finished.
“I absolutely gave it everything I had in the tank,” he says. “To be honest I’m really proud of the result. I held tough. I held in there. At the end of the day, I tried to go for the win and that was what I was there for.”
The road less travelled
In this article, Braden shares his “running evolution: the run session that changed everything” and how he prepared for the Kona World Ironman Championships.
Centered on a key run track session that he used to evolve his run performance to that of a world class breaking Ironman marathon runner, the hard work paid off as he topped the podium with the world’s best.
Transition from off-road
My training life is hugely different from what it was 20 months ago. Back then I was training mostly off road across six disciplines, competing in a combination of XTERRA, Multi-Sport, Ironman and 70.3.
Life changed with the focus on the World Championships and in some ways became more simple. Training was just swim, bike and run. To to be honest, I didn’t know whether this would be enough to keep me motivated. But for me, the goal of Kona was one that I thought about every day. It captivated me and held my entire focus.
The satisfaction I got from training wasn’t as much from the environment I train in, but the gain I achieved when I worked hard. I found an unlikely amount of satisfaction in the process of the road to Kona, and every element of that process required a uncompromising level of commitment.
One of my key areas of focus was dedicated to the process of running economy. When I started racing 70.3 and Ironman, many people commented that I needed to run more efficiently. But there was a part of me that didn’t want to let go of the way I ran, as it was this method that gave me my success off-road. It’s hard to change something that has always worked. But last year when I decided to fully commit everything to Kona, I knew that I was going to have to let go in order to move forward. This was the beginning of my running evolution, and the running track is the location where I was able to achieve that progression.
I have realised that it’s the intensity of running that I enjoy, which is probably why I loved running up mountains. Now I view the track as a place to run hard and push my limits, same as I did in the mountains but now it’s around a monotonous green oval. Being able to work at max effort in a really controlled environment, with no place to hide has helped me to evolve and has proved to me just how important it is both from the perspective of performance and injury prevention.
The key things I achieved during track sessions was a new awareness of my movement patterns and how they tend to change when fatigue sets in. It helped having a coach with me during these sessions, for a real understanding of what lapses when I am tired. Everyone has their idiosyncrasies when fatigue sets in, and they tend to be small things, but I learnt the hard way just how much they can really affect your ability to maintain speed in the back half of a long race.
Focusing on technique when I’m fatigued has been vital in my improvement as a runner and when I’m running track, one of my key objectives became to ensure I maintained good form in every set.
Technique was a key focus – increase my turnover, bring my hip positioning slightly forward, and straighten up my posture so I can stabilise my hips through my core and upper body. This all added up to more power through my posterior chain, glutes and hamstrings for the back part of my stride. I know a lot of people commented on the change in my running at Cairns. It was good to hear, and my run time in Cairns gave me the confidence that I was following the right process.
The track session that changed everything
This was the key track session I used to build into my lead-up into 70.3 Worlds and Kona.