Triathlon Training: Q & A with Jonathan and Alistair Brownlee – Inc Their Swimming, Cycling AND Running Training

Brownlee Brothers Q&A

How did you first get into Triathlon?

Alistair: I’m not really sure how I got into triathlon to be honest. It was a long time ago; I was eight or nine years old. I’ve been swimming since I was five or six years old, running as well because my mum and dad were into swimming and running.

Jonathan: I started swimming when I was about four or five years old and then I ran when I was at school.

Alistair: Jonny and I got involved at a very similar time. I did it first, I did pretty much everything first then Jonny copied me like a year later.

Jonathan: Alistair did one and yes I joined in. And I loved it, I started off swimming and then I started running a little bit. But when I was younger I didn’t just do triathlon obviously, I played football, cricket, rugby and a bit of everything so it wasn’t just triathlon focused.

Describe your average training week?

Jonathan: The average training week involves about thirty-five hours of training, spilt across all three sports. About twenty hours of cycling, about ten hours of running and then about five hours of swimming. It’s quite a lot of training because obviously triathlon is an endurance sport but yes thirty-five hours in total.

Alistair: My average training week varies depending on the time of year but most of the time it’s a structure of about five swimming sessions a week Monday to Friday, about fifteen-eighteen hours of cycling, made up of shorter rides of one-two hours or longer, sometimes as much as five hours and about ten hours of running. Depending on the time of year, maybe two hard sessions and the rest easy running.

Does your training vary in the build up to a race?

Jonathan: My training changes about four days before a race and my taper starts around four days before a race and training is reduced by about 80% then.

Alistair: Training doesn’t change too much in the build up to a race. I tend to have a quite high level of training all year round. Normally I work in six week blocks, so I’ll do six weeks of harder training followed by a race or something a bit easier.

Jonathan: The day before a race my training goes down quite a lot, so I might do three hours training the day before the race but it’s still some fast stuff as I always feel like I need to keep on doing some fast stuff.

Alistair: Later on in the year going on towards summer it gets a bit harder so maybe some extra running sessions, some extra fast bits and cycling and swimming a little bit harder.

Alistair Brownlee

Alistair Brownlee

How does your diet look on an average training day?

Alistair: On an average training day I eat quite a lot, you know I might have done five, six, seven hours of training and that’s quite a lot of calories you go through and quite a lot of nutrition you need to replace. I swim at 7 o’clock in the morning so I tend to maybe grab a snack on the way there, an energy bar or whatever and then have a good breakfast when I get back. That might be porridge, cereal, toast, simple things, and then say I’ve got another session after that, during the session I’ll use an energy drink, the Viper Boost Energy Drink.

Jonathan: On my average training day I get up about 6:15am, I normally eat a light breakfast before I go swimming. So that’s just a yoghurt, a banana or something like that. After swimming I have a decent breakfast, so that will involve some cereal and a bit of toast. Then I normally go cycling, its normally quite a hard ride, after that I’ll just have a simple lunch and then it’s a hard run in the evening so after my hard run I want to get some Maxifuel Recovermax down me as quickly as possible.

Alistair: After a particularly hard session and especially if I’ve got a hard session the next day I’ll have a Maxifuel Recovermax and I think it’s really important that you get that nutrition in as soon as you can after training so you can recover as quick as you can for the next day.

What do you eat on the morning of the race?

Alistair: The food I consume depends on the time of the race. If it’s a really early race I won’t eat a lot; a bit of cereal, a bit of toast, a few energy bars and a few Viper Active Gels. Drinks are also really important in triathlon because you get really dehydrated, so I quite often drink a Viper Boost Energy Drink with extra salts and electrolytes to make sure I’ve got plenty of salt in.

Jonathan: I always have a light breakfast, so again it’s something not too sugary. It is very important for me.

Alistair: If it’s later in the day, say it’s a 2 or 3 o’clock race I’ll have a really good meal three or four hours before, so a very carbohydrate based meal of pasta and simple things and then move on to the energy drinks and products later on.

Jonathan: Normally before a race I’ll have some kind of cereal and toast and not normally white bread but just like a simple brown bread and some simple cereals.

Was there anything particularly special about your breakfast on the day of the Olympics?

Alistair: On the morning of the Olympics I can’t actually remember what I had for breakfast, I’m pretty sure that it was a simple bit of cereal, I could well have had something like an omelette as well. You know I like to keep things as normal as possible.

Jonathan: My Olympic breakfast was something pretty simple really, pretty boring. I raced at 11:30am so I was up about 7 o’clock and I think I just had some cereals and toast.

What is your greatest achievement to date?

Alistair: My greatest achievement is definitely the Olympics. I’m proud of being consistent as well over the last four or five years but the Olympics is the one thing that stands above everything else.

Jonathan: To cross that finish line and get a bronze medal in front of the home crowd was absolutely incredible. It was a dream come true, it was absolutely amazing to have half a million people cheering you. So that has been my greatest achievement so far. For both of us to get a medal at a home Olympics, it was a very special day.

What was it like to represent team GB?

Alistair: When I was competing at the Olympics for Great Britain it was fantastic to qualify and just even to be there. It was my second Olympics but nothing will ever compare to competing on home soil at London in front of a massive British crowd and all of the support we had. So even just being there was a fantastic experience from the moment just walking out onto the course to being shouted at like mad, the entire race was just brilliant.

Jonathan: To represent GB in a home Olympics was an incredible moment, I never thought I would have the chance to go to an Olympics but to go to a home Olympics was even more special and the support we got from everyone was pretty special. To compete in a triathlon in front of half a million people with them all shouting your name as I ran round, it was very special, it was a special moment, it still hasn’t really sunk in now.

What are your future goals?

Jonathan: My future goal is Rio 2016.

Alistair: I’ve had success to the Olympics and looking into the future definitely Rio 2016 is on the horizon and I’m going to try and do it again and that’s fantastic. Hopefully there’s going to be a triathlon relay in Rio as well so that gives the possibility of winning two medals and then up to then there’s the world championship every year.

Jonathan: To get gold in Rio in 2016 would be even more special and to beat Alistair in Rio would be pretty special.

What’s your favourite discipline in your sport?

Jonathan: My favourite part of training is running because it’s a great sport. I absolutely love the freedom of running

Alistair: I think my favourite part of training is definitely running. It feels like the one I’ve done for the longest. I’ve always loved running since I was a kid doing local cross country races and it’s the one that kind of represents freedom to me, you kind throw your trainers on, run out of the door and you’re off.

This interview originally appeared on the Maxifuel website, as Jonny and Alistair are both sponsored by them

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