Interview with Ironman Pro, coach, and author Gordo Byrn

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By Lu Duong

It can be assumed in triathlon that an athlete has “arrived” on the professional circuit when their first or last name is all that is required for reference; Deboom, Nastascha, Peter, Mark, Dave, Heather, Molina, Cameron, Paula, Lisa, Jurgen, Norman and a very small, intimate group of others have defined their status in our sport. Many of them have won an Ironman on their home soil, while an even smaller cluster realized their ultimate athletic objective; a win at the Hawaii Ironman World Championship.

Gordo Byrn has yet to achieve either accomplishment, yet mention “Gordo” to virtually any Ironman athlete, and a quick discussion of his book, Going Long, “the Four Pillars” or “Epic Camp” will ensue.

Directly out of university, a young Byrn immersed himself into venture capital, where the major players of the industry prefer the taste of foie gras and spirits over Powerbars and Gatorade.

While athletes such as Deboom and Reid spent time slowly cultivating their bodies and mental tenacity through the international triathlon scene, a career-ambitious Byrn immersed himself in due diligence, investment turn-arounds and acquisitions. All the while moving and living in Montreal, Boston, London, and finally settling in Hong Kong where he became partner at his firm - hardly the regimented training one embarks on towards a professional triathlon career.

fat gordoOn his website, www.byrn.org, Byrn proudly displays a photograph aptly named, Fat Gordo; a nod and reminder to the past. He is smiling, however the body tells a different story. On a mission to a more health-conscious lifestyle, Byrn embraced hiking. When a further challenge was needed, taming Kilimanjaro via mountaineering became a passion. To build necessary endurance for the endeavor, Byrn casually picked up running and cycling.

One must wonder if Byrn, a Vancouver, Canada native, reflected on his nontraditional path to the elite world when he hunted eventual Ironman Canada winner Tom Evans last year during the marathon. After posting a strong bike leg, Byrn silently picked off competitors one by one. Evans, jubilant and exhausted, commented immediately after crossing the winner’s tape one minute before Byrn, “I thought Gordo was going to catch me.” It’s also worth noting that Gordo learned to swim in 1998. When one reflects on his mid 11 hours first Ironman in 1999 to his 8:29 at IM Canada; 2nd place in Byrn’s mind should be considered victorious.

Unlike other professional triathletes, Byrn is a regular commentator on his website, xtri.com, and an accomplished author and coach. Byrn is not only respected in the triathlon community for stellar results including a win at the 2003 World’s Toughest Half-Ironman, a win at 2002 Ultra-Man World Championship (think Ironman x 2 ½), and 2nd place at 2004 IM Canada, but for his accessibility and interaction with daily questions from athletes. Have a question about heart rate training or how long the base endurance phase should take place? Post a message on his website and a personal response can be expected. Byrn’s website is an ultra-endurance triathlete’s mecca. Anyone from an aspiring Ironman finisher to the advanced age-group champion is able to find a precisely authored piece on the major points of the sport.

The IM community en masse finds kinship with Gordo because he’s like you and I. He’s not the World Champion (perhaps, not yet) and understands the dynamics and pressures of family, career, and other responsibilities in our pursuit of success. He even shares with us a resolution list for the New Year that includes, “Nuture my relationship with Miss Monica (Monica Caplan, uber swimmer and elite IM triathlete).” He shares with us his training and racing tips and also shares with us a note about his love life? How can you not help but root for the guy?

Byrn makes you believe that anything is possible through his experiences. More then a professional triathlete, he is a motivator. Byrn won’t hold your hand through the long hours and miles required finishing or for success in an IM, he can only show you how to get there. The work is up to you.

You can actually read each of Gordo’s race reports beginning with his first Ironman in 1999 on his website. One has to smile when reading a passage in his reflection on his first IM race:


“Entering town, I passed a line of guys who were well into the beers. They were having a bit of a party and toasted me with a "This Bud's For You" as I went by. The contrast between the guys sitting in lawn chairs pounding beers (my old life) and the athletes pushing themselves (my new life) made me smile and realize how happy I was to have my new life. Both paths are a lot of fun and I have a lot of excellent friends in each "camp." Still, I have no desire to go back. Fitness has opened my personal horizons in ways that I never expected.”


If only Gordo knew at the time of writing how far those personal horizons really were going to be...


1 You recently completed Epic Camp Australia, how are you feeling at the present time?

Epic came at a good time this year. I’d been hitting it pretty hard in December and was a bit worried that I was over-doing-it on the quality of my sessions. I was concerned that that I’d be a January training champion. Drilling all my pals in the early season and flat for my key races.

Epic gave me the chance to radically change my training protocol. I went back to the way I used to do my base training – simply do as much as possible everyday – don’t worry about pace, have fun, enjoy the sun and the sights. It gave me a lot of time to reflect on what motivates me, why I am in our sport and what’s important to me.

At Epic, there was a Canadian doctor – “Robo” Seth Bitting – and he was training 9-10 hours every day to stay ahead in our little points competition. It was quite a bit of fun and I had to extend myself to stay close to him – over 1100Ks of cycling, 120Ks of running and 50Ks of swimming in the first seven days. We then backed that up with two days of racing in the second week. Even with that kind of volume, I was in second place until the final day. Seth’s from Calgary and, I suppose that, I’m not the only person to underestimate the potential of a highly motivated Canadian.

Overall, I’m feeling really good with solid performances in most of my sessions. I am a bit tired this week as I am in the middle of my specific preparations for Ironman New Zealand. In this phase of my training, I take things one main set, one workout at a time.

2  Gordo, people recognize you as the average Joe. You were formerly involved in the venture capital industry - an old boy's network so-to-speak where dinner and drinks with clients take place far more often then long runs and rides with them. In fact, your pictures of pre-triathlon days show a very "healthy" Gordo! What was the initial reaction from colleagues and friends as you segued into the sport?

I’m not sure if average would be the most appropriate description of me in an overall sense but my athletic credentials are certainly quite ordinary. Weights and football in high school – two years of club rugby in university – then nothing for about a decade. Not exactly the pedigree of someone that you’d back to start racing elite when they were 32.

I worked in Europe and Asia for my career and this is different than, say, the Valley in the US. Internationally, it’s a lot less old-boys network, it was a young industry when I started in the UK (1990) and Asia (1994).

Feel free to link up that photo of my time in London – I think it’s important that people see the body of a 8:29-ironman before he started. I was VERY ordinary in terms of athleticism.

I started turning myself around when I moved to Asia. It was a gradual thing and my colleagues accepted that it was what I liked to do. Asian’s are quite keen on food – so most the discussion was about my “strange” eating habits. I tried to eat quite healthy so that was more of a topic of discussion than my training habits.

3 Last summer, you blistered the field at Ironman Canada and nearly caught the eventual winner, Tom Evans. Many people, including yourself, note the even paced strategy you employ is the essential key that sets up your running capability. What was going through your mind during the marathon as you continued to cut Tom's lead?

I was thinking that I was going to catch him and win the race!

In racing and training, I think that we need to employ the strategy that gives us our best chance of a superior performance. Not many athletes, or coaches, spend time thinking about the demands and strategic structure of the goal race. This is a key thing that Dave Scott taught me last summer. Dave is able to “see” a race in strategic terms and tailor an athletes training program so that he’s got a “tool box” ready for any situation. On race day last August, I simply pulled out main sets that I’d practiced all summer long. Dave gave me everything that I needed to get the job done. I had the race of my life and it was one of the best experiences of my life.

4 You have had nothing but kind words for Tom, and vice-versa. Is it difficult being friends in such an intense atmosphere?

Tom’s a classy guy. We share a mutual respect that stems from our understanding of what it takes to perform at our level. Not many people know and even fewer make the choices to pursue personal excellence.

5 What makes IM Canada "the most important thing in the sport?" Is it your familial connection to country?

It’s the first Ironman that I finished (11:06 in 1999). I find it incredibly motivating to focus my energy on training to win it. When I say something is important, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s linked to my personal happiness and satisfaction. Rather, it means that I am elevating its position in my life because, I believe, that the goal will help me be the type of person I want to be.

Not sure if that makes sense? What I am trying to say is that my goals are simply signposts that I use to help me stay focused on the type of life I want to lead. Once they are achieved, they are replaced with new goals, new targets. Satisfaction comes from the process of achievement, not the illusion of momentary domination in results.

6 Many triathletes spend a significant time with various cycling frames, pedals, aerobars, schedules, etc to enhance performance. You, for instance, have taken up Yoga to increase your flexibility. Do you think this "holistic" approach to the sport and thinking outside the box is what separates you from others?

Not many folks are able to put the whole package together week-after-week. Training, nutrition, stretching, massage… relative to others, I do that quite well. Always have- and in all fields. In most fields, achievement is linked more to sustained process management than innate talent or ability. That’s a message that folks don’t always want to hear – at first it’s liberating to think that the choices that we make will be the primary determinant of our results. However, the flip side is personal responsibility for our life situation. Not everyone is ready to accept that fact – watch any discussion on 'nutrition' to see this in action. The only thing we truly own is our body.

7 Gordo, you set goals for yourself before your readers from years back, and picked them off one at a time. Leaving a lucrative field such as VC to become a coach/author/pro triathlete must have been a nerve-wracking experience. Any goal setting advice for those reading?

It takes very little courage to do what you love every day. I’d been in the corporate world for ten years and knew that it was time for me to leave. My family found it more scary than I did. I *knew* that I had to leave – they’d spent their entire lives bought into the standard profile of success. My choices had repercussions within my entire circle. When we change ourselves, we can have a profound impact on those around us.

I was extremely fortunate. At 30, I’d reached the pinnacle of what I’d been told would make me happy… partner in the firm, nice house, sports car, fancy vacations. The trouble was, I received no lasting satisfaction from all that.

Many, many people in our sport can relate to this experience. I work with a lot of them now – they are some of the most successful people in our society (CEOs, doctors, bankers) – they’ve worked to the top of their fields and are left wondering, “what’s next”?

Goal setting advice – most importantly – set goals that are in line with you ability to commit to them and remember that your ability to persist will be linked directly to the joy that you receive from the process of achieving your goal.

Bear in mind that you’ll need to have complete alignment within your life to the direction that you want to go. To the extent that everyone in your life supports your goals, you will have a much greater chance for success. Likewise, to the extent that your goals aren’t in harmony with your life situation, achievement will become less likely and internal stress more likely.

There’s a great quote from the update of the Thomas Crown Affair, when the lead is asked if people can trust him, “certainly, so long as their goals are identical to my own”. That part of the movie really made me smile.

8 You mentioned that when you first met Dave Scott, you bombarded him with information about watts, eating pattern, historical data, etc., that he simply replied, "Gordo, you're not training for the race across America." Your writing pieces soon thereafter appeared to take on a more "getting back to the roots" mentality where you cite one of your coaching mentors, John Hellemans, on the importance of a "basic week" and simply going out and doing something consistent, over and over. Do you think AG athletes tend to get overly creative in their preparation?

I think that most people over-think it. We aren’t talking about sending ourselves to Mars.

I can relate to why many working athletes like to debate it. I was the same way… if you are sitting at your desk, in a job that isn’t bringing you satisfaction, then debating your favorite pastime is better than not doing it at all.

Over the last three years, I’ve been pretty basic in what I actually do. Scott’s been a big help with keeping me focused and simple.

As I’ve developed, I’ve learned that most of our time is spent debating the 2-5% of training that’s variable. The 95-98% of training - that should be the same for all of us – Lydiard told us what to do years ago. I see a lot of energy spent on areas that have no impact on an age-grouper’s performance. That’s why I wrote my Four Pillars article on my website. I refer people to it all the time.

9 Gordo, you love coffee. How many cups do you have a day?

I like my coffee strong, real strong.  4-8 shots of espresso per day when training. I cut that in half on race day – most double it and I think that explains a lot of “digestive” issue on the run!

10 Many of your readers/fans would love to participate with you in a camp. Will you ever have a camp available with no time prerequisites? An "Advanced/Intermediate" and "Beginner" camp, perhaps?

Scott Molina, Dave Scott and some of my close coaching pals – we’re hosting a Spring Ironman clinic in Palm Springs – March 11-13 – this year. Details are here -- http://www.byrn.org/PSCamp/PS_Itinerary.htm

11 You have professed the benefits of watts in respect to riding. What advice do you have the IM athlete that simply wants to do well on the bike without a device that demands a $1000 investment?

I’ll quote one of the Swedish Doodes, Jonas Colting – “Cycling is a blue-collar sport. You gotta do the miles.”

The best cyclists in our sport share a few things in common – they receive personal satisfaction from doing the work required to improve, they ride frequently year-round and they have had periods of high volume cycling through their career.

Dave, Mark, Pauli, Molina, Pigg, Glah – these guys didn’t have power meters but they sure knew/know how to ride a bike. That comes from time in the saddle, lots of work. Improving on the bike requires a desire to do long hours of work – there’s no easy way.

That said, when most athletes start using power, they are amazed at the large amount of power that is completely wasted by their chosen riding style.

12 Many people don't realize that you had no prior in-depth experience with swimming until 1998. How much effort went into learning the most technically demanding discipline as you went from new swimmer to mid 50min. for IM?

It’s an important point for folks to know. My first masters workout was December of 1998. Aside form learning to swim at Red Cross lessons as a kid, I had no background at all. I’ve been fortunate to have solid coaching throughout my development. Thinking back there are four key things that helped me develop:

- No long gaps in my training. I think that the longest I’ve been continuously out of the water has been two weeks.
- Limited use of swim gear. In my first two years of swimming, I never used gear. Subsequent to that, in the periods where I have made the most gains in terms of speed, I’ve used very little gear.
- My first goal (in every sport) was to become efficient over my race distance. Too many athletes seek speed before fitness.
- I’ve always tried to push my frequency and volume in line with my abilities. Whether it was a 12K swim week in my early days or a 50K swim week at Epic Camp. I was willing to make myself quite tired from simply swimming.

Once I got myself under 60 minutes for an Ironman swim, I think that I’ve swum about a million meters per minute improvement. The gains come slowly but the swim counts in the overall picture. As well, many folks underestimate the overall fitness benefit from our swim training. It’s excellent overall exercise, even for athletes that were swim kids. All because you can come out at the front of bunch doesn’t mean that you can neglect your swim training.

13 Gordo, take us on a typical day beginning with wake up:

I’ll get up between 5 and 5:30 – make coffee for the house, grab some fruit salad and work on my computer until 6:30.

Then I’ll head to the pool for my swim workout and, usually, follow that with some core and/or strength training.

I’ll get home around 11, have what I call “second breakfast” and, maybe, lie down for 20-40 minutes.

Then back up, more computer work until, say, 1 or 2.

I’ll do a second workout – on the average day – this would be a ride/run. I’ll swim, bike and run on most days.

In the evening, I’ll either do yoga or get a massage.

Then more work on the computer before bed.


14 Gordo, in your early writings, you mention that Hawaii tapes kept you sane on the trainer during the winter months. What is it like competing against them after such a short time in your career?

It’s a huge inside joke for me. I know what I was like when I started. To have managed to get myself to a level where I can even be considered close to them – that’s a lot of fun.

However, I am well aware that I’m not truly “competing” against the top guys. I’ve got quite a bit of work to do before I am going toe-to-toe with folks like Peter, Tim, Luke and Norman.

Still, I hope that I get a chance to race Peter in Hawaii before he retires. For the ‘modern’ era, I think that he represents the pinnacle of Kona racing. The first triathlon poster that I ever had autographed was Peter’s PowerBar poster from his first Kona victory. I used to look at it while I rode my CompuTrainer in Hong Kong.

Racing Cameron in Taupo in a few weeks, seeing what’s possible there. That’s a further step in my development as an athlete.

15 Favorite beer?

I don’t drink when I am getting ready for a race. However, when I was in Hawaii this past year, I enjoyed a few Hinano beers. The label reminds me of my girlfriend, Monica Caplan.

16 Triathlon has been gaining momentum as of recent, any thoughts?

Probably the greatest change is the wealth of information that’s available to people. Back in the 80s and 90s (I imagine) that there wasn’t a whole lot of good advice available for people looking to complete an Ironman. Scott’s got some great stories about tinkering with his hydration and nutrition strategies to survive the Hawaii Ironman.

17 What's one thing your readers don't know about your training?

When I first tried to start running (1994), I made it 2K before I had to walk home. I also suffered from chronic knee pain, which was corrected by greatly increasing my leg strength.

18 Gordo, what was most difficult transition going from working professional athlete to full-time pro?

I consider myself an “elite” rather than a “pro” – it would be pretty tough to support myself from my athletic ability.

In making the transformation towards a decent elite athlete, initially, the toughest part was deciding what to do – there have been periods of my development where I really had no clue how to get to the next level.

Once I knew what it was going to take, showing up every day, day after day – that can be tough. It helps that I really like to train.

19 What will you be riding for IM NZ?

Trek TTT with Shimano 9-speed
Ultegra bottom bracket with SRM cranks
Bontrager Carbon Disc with Hed-3 Front
3T Bio Arms, clip-on aerobars
Minoura saddle-mounted bottle holder

I’m still hopeful that someday Trek will reply to my emails…

20 Any comments regarding any book in the works?

My second book is going to be on the process of achievement. I’ve been fortunate to have success in a few diverse fields (academics, business and athletics). The areas where I have been successful are very different but my approach has been quite similar. So I’ve learned a few things that I want to share.

The book will be, primarily, about creating a framework (within ourselves and around ourselves) for success. I’ll also share what I’ve learned about athletic excellence, specifically, long course triathlon but that’s not my main purpose in writing the book.

21 At the moment, do you feel your fitness level is passed where you were last year at this time in the months prior to IM Canada?

Swimming – most definitely. After IM Canada, I wanted to impress Monica with my swim commitment – nothing like a love interest to motivate a guy. I had a couple of easy weeks then drilled myself in the pool for five weeks of heavy swim focus that culminated with Epic Kona. At the camp, I wasn’t riding at all but I was doing life-best swim volume and swimming HARD nearly every single day. I’ve got a constitution that can handle a lot of volume and it worked for me. I’m swimming about 5s per 100m faster at all intensities as compared to last year at this time.

Cycling – probably similar. With the SRMs, I am able to track my main set performance quite closely. Some of my sets are superior to last summer and some are about the same.

In a race, the bike is always the “unanswered question” for me. There are some races (IMNZ 2003) where I get on my bike and am rolling a big gear the entire way. It feels smooth and I’m having a blast. There are other races (IMC 2003) where I have nothing on the bike and it’s a struggle to get my heart rate up. I used to panic when that happened but I know now that I run *very*  fast when that happens so I have to be patient and try to get things going.

For your readers that have access to power, I’ll share some thoughts on watts. The other day, I caught myself being a little disappointed because I couldn’t hold 300w for 50K after doing some hill repeats. For me, 300w is a magic number. If you are a good runner and can hold 300w steady-state then you have a very good shot at winning most Ironman races (including Kona). In pure cycling terms, 300w isn’t a crazy number. It’s do-able if you train your butt off.

I’m sitting there wondering what it’s going to take to get myself up to 300w and smile at a memory from when I first started working with power on my CompuTrainer. It was probably 1999 and I was sitting on my CT watching television. I never used the wattage function much but that day I decided to see how long I could hold 200w. I think I lasted five minutes before the burning became so bad that I just threw in the towel.

So, for your readers that think that ‘elite’ cycling numbers are out of their reach, think again! If you want it, if you are willing to put in the ten of thousands of Ks that are required, then you can become a far better cyclist than you ever thought possible.

OK, I got a little off topic there!

Running – it’s probably similar to where I was before IM Canada. I don’t feel like my top end is quite as good right now but I’ve got a good whack of training fatigue in me at present. If I can get close to the front of the race by the end of the bike leg then I think that I’ll be competitive.

Cameron’s so strong in all three disciplines that it’s difficult to see how you beat him on his best day. He’s never finished outside the top two on the Taupo course. I get pretty fired up thinking about having the chance to race alongside him. In 2001, IM NZ was my first elite Ironman start – that year, Cam finished about an hour up the road on me! Having a guy like that in our sport forces all of us to lift our game.

22 Gordo, your brother is a comedian and must offer a great refreshing breath from triathlon. What is your support network like and how has it kept you grounded?

Chuck is a great guy and understands me. Probably the toughest part of the life that I’ve chosen is that we don’t get to spend a lot of time together. Seeing him really perks me up. We have a special bond.

Your grounded comment made me smile. We’re just regular folks running around in lycra. The world champions that I’ve met are very similar to the best CEOs that I worked with in the corporate world, regular people with extraordinary drive.

I likely had more ‘grounded’ issues when I was a B.S.D. (see Bonfire of the Vanities) in the corporate world. Surrounding myself with the best athletes and coaches in the world works well to keep me in check. Think that you are swimming well – try to sit on Monica’s feet for a while. Think that you are running well – try to hang with the Baron on a training run. Think that you are riding well – head out the door with Mister A (and pray for flat roads and a hurricane headwind!). My training partners work to keep me humble and maintain high standards of excellence. If that doesn’t work then I’ve got my coaching team of Molina & Scott to let me know that I’m not (yet) the fire-breathing dragon that I think I am.

23 You've been with Oomph! Clothing for quite some time. Was it difficult getting sponsorship as you made headway into the sport?

The Oomph! crew are fantastic. They’d been watching my progress for a few years and helped me out with gear before they founded their company.

With all my sponsors, the key decision for me has been that I like their product and have respect for the people throughout the organization.

Vinu at FuelBelt – nice guy, Epic Camp veteran, quality IMer in his own right.

Chris, Ian & Tim at Ironman Wetsuits – supporters of me and (most importantly) my crew. Solid guys that race IM, support our sport and have a good product.

Matt at PRO4 Nutrition – probably the busiest guy in our sport. He’s got a great product range that contains only what we need and leaves out what we don’t need.

Just like my earlier point on Pro vs. Elite – I appreciate all that my sponsors do for me but I’m not able to live off their support. For a guy with my background, it’s easier for me to support myself by working with clients outside of triathlon as well as coaching athletes. Last year might have been the first time that my prize money managed to cover all my race expenses (and that’s mainly due to getting a few free entries).

24 Aside from Epic Camp, do you train solo?

Interesting question.

I’ve found that most athletes don’t know ‘how’ to train – or perhaps – they simply don’t enjoy training like I do. Specifically, they haven’t developed the feel for the long steady training that's essential for endurance success. When I’m sitting in a bunch, I’m either 40-50 bpm below my threshold or covering a random pace surge. It’s not the training that I need for my cycling. Also, as I’ve developed as an athlete, it has become more difficult for folks to hang on my cycling or running workouts. Not that I am *that* fast but even my pals that can easily hang with me – they don’t always need my specific session. So it’s more difficult to get overlap, to find an athlete that’s willing to compromise their session to mine.

I have a few pals that drop in for my long or important sessions – guys like Clas Bjorling and Eric Schwartz. I really appreciate their support for my key workouts.

I do nearly all of my swimming in a group situation as I find that helps me improve the quality of my training. I’m fast enough in the water that I can control my own intensity by choosing the lane that I swim in. Except when I’m swimming with Dave – he doesn’t let me take the soft option unless I am completely drilled.

I’ve been fortunate to train alongside some of the best athletes in our sport and they’ve taken the time to teach me how they like to train. There’s an element of compromise in any group situation and not everyone is willing to compromise their session goals for a little company. As I’ve improved, I have developed a better understanding of why some of the best athletes in our sport tend to train alone quite a bit – not everybody wants to spend two to four hours rolling at elite IM pace.

That said, I miss the camaraderie of small group rides. Doing absolute monster rides with one or two buddies – rides that other folks were scared even to attempt. Getting completely drilled and doing other pointless things just to see if we could survive. That’s part of the attraction of Epic Camp for me. I really enjoy the monster training, for its own sake – not necessarily because it’s going to help me get under 8:20 at some stage.

Also, I’ve got several training idiosyncrasies that mean that often I’m not particularly well-suited to group situations. I still haven’t mastered the zen-like calm that’s required when a guy that’s been drafting for four hours decides that he’ll crank the pace (for a full 90 seconds) towards the end of a ride. That kind of stuff can piss me off – especially when my blood sugar is a bit low.

25 How integral has Scott Molina been in your progress as a professional?

The ONLY reason that I am a decent athlete today is that Scott took an interest in me at the start of 2001. I was so clueless on what it took to become decent that, I guess, he took pity on me.

We work extremely well together and I think that’s because I am most cautious on the areas where he’s most aggressive. He also understands, more that most, what it’s like to be inside my head.

26 Gordo, what does your eating habit resemble?

Coffee and fruit salad to start the day
Eggs with veggies and oatmeal after my morning sessions
Some more fruit salad before my afternoon sessions
Salad with protein for dinner

27 You mentioned on your goal list that you would like to create a top triathlon team. Any thoughts?

When people think “team” they often think about structure, uniforms, salaries. When I think about “team”, I see a network of athletes training together and helping each other become better. We’ve got that going here in Christchurch right now. There’s a mixture of elites and dedicated amateurs training for IM New Zealand. We’re helping each other achieve our goals. The group primarily provides knowledge and motivation.

28 What mental preparation do you embrace prior to a peak race?

As the race approaches, one thing that I’ve found effective is to visualize myself performing well in the key areas of the race, or, in any areas of the race where I have concerns (swim starts, for example).

29 Gordo, you have a group of guys that include Clas Bjorling, Bjorn Andersson, Kevin Purcell, Scott Molina, and other exceptional triathletes and coaches. How have they played a part in your progress?

I see my training circle as an important part of what helps me maintain a focus on constant improvement. I’ve worked actively to surround myself with the best athletes possible. It’s not always easy on the ego to get reminded of that on a daily basis! As well, being coached by two of the most successful athletes in our sport helps keep me honest in terms of assessing my own performance.

30 Any advice that you practiced yourself to the working athlete going long that is reading?

The single greatest thing that you can do to improve your performance is get an extra hour of sleep, every single night. Secondly, take the time to build a simple, straightforward training plan that addresses the basic requirements for success – and stick with it.

31 Any words to your fans?

Anything that you see in me is simply a reflection of the potential that you have within yourself.

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date: February 16, 2005

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