Interview with Pro Triathlete Emma-Kate Lidbury
Emma-Kate Lidbury has put together a string of phenomenal races and is becoming a regular on top of the podium. Emma-Kate recently completed a 'Dirty Double', racing back-to-back 70.3's on consecutive weekends in Raleigh & Kansas (taking a 2nd and a win). We thought it was high time for another chat, and wanted to talk to her specifically about the Double and gain some insights as to how to do it successfully.
PowerTap: First, congrats on both races. Perhaps even more impressive than you completely crushing the bike (Emma-Kate had the fastest bike splits in both races), we noticed while analyzing your power files that you are incredibly consistent, almost machine-like. The only real difference seemed to be the number of surges in the 6.0-8.0 watts/kg range, where you had 8 in Kansas and none in Raleigh. To what do you attribute this?
IM 70.3 Raleigh
Emma-Kate: I would say the Kansas bike course had smaller, punchier hills and I pushed it harder on some of the out and back stretches where there were some big rollers. There were also a few male pros I was trying to get by and I would punch it up a gear when passing them so they don't try to tag on.
IM 70.3 Kansas
PowerTap: What was your recovery & workout protocol between the races?
Emma-Kate: It was all about recovery between the two races. Matt (Matt Dixon, Emma-Kate's coach) and I placed a high value on nutrition - with a big focus on quality protein and hydration - and sleep.
My workouts were as follows:
Monday: travel from Raleigh to Kansas. 35-40' on indoor CycleOps spin bike on arrival in the evening (I rode at about 135 watts for most of that and focused solely on high rpm and smooth pedal technique)
Tuesday: 75' smooth ride (below 200 watts) w/ 10' run off bike; then an easy, afternoon 2k swim.
Wed: 1:50 easy ride. I was starting to feel good here so had to really restrain myself from riding harder, and almost all below or at 180-200w, then a 20 min. treadmill run off the bike with 4x20 second pick-ups. Lunchtime swim with local Masters swim team of 1hr.
Thurs: 2:00 ride, and first real "work": 30 min. warm up then 2x15' building to 70.3 watts in the last 5', then 3x5' at 70.3 watts. I was hitting and holding 245-250w comfortably and feeling really good. 3K swim afternoon. The bike work was catching up to me as I started to feel tired by swim time!
Fri: 35' easy lake swim w/ 5x2' building efforts, and I was feeling tired! 75' very easy ride at 100 watts.
Sat: 20' easy lake swim with some faster blasts, then 80' ride on the course which included 4x 6' building to 70.3 race watts. Again, like Thursday, I felt awesome and began to expect great things on race day.
PowerTap: How much of your rest week was planned out vs. going by/incorporating how you were feeling?
Emma-Kate: My entire program always incorporates feel. The Saturday ride was shorter than planned because I had felt so tired Friday. Conversely, Wednesday's ride had been longer because I'd felt good.
PowerTap: Did you follow any special diet between the races?
Emma-Kate: No special diet as such, but I did place a great focus on quality protein, so there was a lot of fresh fish, steak, chicken, and lots of colorful veggies and salad, fruit, juice, water and electrolytes. I was also very diligent with fuelling during sessions, even though they were short.
PowerTap: How did you mentally prepare and wrap your head around the 2nd race?
Emma-Kate: Fortunately, this is the second time I've done one of Dixon's Dirty Doubles (I raced 70.3 Cozumel then 70.3 Augusta last September), so I drew heavily on how it felt last year in the build-up to the second race. I remembered last year that I really only felt ready to race as the Star Spangled Banner played before that second race. I took a great deal of confidence from the fact that I felt significantly better in the second race last year and held strong in the belief that this would happen again. Matt and I also had several conversations reminding me that it didn't matter how I felt on any day before that second race. All that mattered was how I felt DURING the second race. It was almost a case of switching the brain off between the two races and just switching it on in time to race. That worked well. Sometimes learning not to listen to your brain is as important as learning to listen to your body!
PowerTap: Was 1 race more of a focus than the other ('A' vs. 'B' priority)?
Emma-Kate: No, the goal was to win both. Matt told me he wanted me flying home as a seven-time 70.3 champion. I flew home a six-time 70.3 champion with my tail between my legs and no longer part of the purplepatch team (only kidding!). J
PowerTap: Do you think an age grouper can have 2 'A' races a week apart? Do you think your ability to recover was due to your nutrition and recovery protocol or your cumulative training and racing as a pro?
Emma-Kate: I think this largely depends on the age grouper and their race experience, fitness and mental fortitude. I think if an age grouper has the right family support and can take the week off work between the two races then, yes, absolutely they can do it. You need to plan for it, though. That is, the moment you finish race 1 you need to start thinking, preparing and setting yourself up for race 2 and you need to have planned for it in your training in the weeks and months building into it. You need to have a strong bank of endurance and also be disciplined in your approach to recovery - whether that's sleep, nutrition, training or massage. You also need to be strong mentally and not panic or worry if you feel tired between races. I have seen age groupers race 70.3s a week apart or a fortnight apart and I'm impressed. At the same time, I forget just how much of a cumulative training bank you build up as a pro. It is far, far easier for a pro athlete to do this than an age grouper. I'm not sure I'd recommend to all age groupers but it can be done with planning!
PowerTap: What did you do differently for recovery coming out of the 2nd race?
Emma-Kate: It is far less intense as there is no race to re-focus on the next weekend. Of course, I still do the same things: instant re-fuelling, good sleep and nutrition, massage. This time, it just happens to have coincided with my mid-season break, so headed to the beach in Cancun. I take my recovery seriously!
PowerTap: What's next?
Emma-Kate: As the race season tends to stretch for quite some time now (I have been racing since March and will likely race until the end of October), Matt and I feel it is important to really push the reset button mid-season. I took a week off in Cancun then returned home to Santa Monica and resumed structured training in the middle of the following week. I am then racing 70.3 Vineman in mid-July before beginning the big push towards the 70.3 Worlds in Vegas.
PowerTap: We're happy we only have to wait a couple more weeks to see you race again. Thanks and good luck!
Emma-Kate: Thanks...we'll talk to you soon.