Catching up with our sponsored athlete, Ashley Clifford, after a busy 2012 race season. In 2013 she will tackle 5 Ironman races. We asked her, What does it take to train for an ironman?
What’s your motivation for training for a triathlon?
“I have a life-long love of sports, and I’ve participated on many teams. I was a
competitive swimmer at age five. My junior year of high school, I transferred
to a high school that limited my swim time, so I compensated by running
cross country and track. After graduation, I made the decision to run in
college. I spent the balance of my college years competing in Half Ironman
distance races, developing my swimming strength, and improving my running
times. I also made the decision to become a professional triathlete. Thus my
immediate career goal is to become a successful, professional triathlete.
I am very blessed and lucky because I actually love training. I almost enjoy it as much as the actual races!”
What part of the race are you the strongest in?
“My strongest part of the race is the swim and run. The swim is somewhat helpful because it allows me to get out front and not have to fight the group. It only gives me a few minutes advantage, and in a 9+ hour race this is not much.”
“When I am feeling good and in shape, I am a very strong runner. And this
does make a difference in my overall standings. I was the fastest female
runner at Louisville Ironman 2011 and placed ‘third female’ as an age
grouper. At Florida Ironman I ran a 2:57 marathon, which was the fastest run
of the day. It also earned me a third place finish and my first podium finish as
Do you have a coach? If so, who?
“My coach is Adam Zucco with Training Bible Coaching.”
What is involved in training? (give us an example of your training day)•
“A typical day of training is usually 2 of the triathlon disciplines. I will swim and bike. I may bike and run. The workout is really dependent on what race I am training for and when it is scheduled. At a peak, my days can be 4+ hours of working out.”
Is training for a triathlon doable for anyone? Why or why not?
“Yes, with one exception. I believe that you need to know how to swim
comfortably in open water. You do not have to be a great swimmer; you just
have to be comfortable in the open water with other people around you. I see people not finishing the swim because they freak – not because they were not in shape, but because of the crowd around them. Training for the bike and run is very do-able for anyone; the only piece they might adjust is the distance. I recommend you start with a distance you are comfortable with, whether it is a Sprint, Olympic distance or a 70.3 Ironman distance.”
What gear/equipment does one need to train?
“There is a lot of gear and equipment needed to train, depending if you train year round. But, the basics for the run are running shoes and run clothes. For the bike you need a bike, bike shoes, cycle clothes, and helmet. For the swim you need a swimsuit, cap, & goggles. For someone wanting to finish a Triathlon, they do not need to spend a lot of money on the gear. The most expensive equipment is your bike, and a lot of people already have one they can use.”