CANA­DIAN CHAMP KEVIN WIL­LIS PRE­PARES FOR THE WORLDS

ANATOMY OF AN UL­TRA­MAN

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - FEATURES - BY THERESA ANN WAL­LACE

WHEN JU­LIA AIMERS first started coach­ing Kevin Wil­lis al­most a decade ago, she told him that, phys­i­cally and psy­cho­log­i­cally, we all have a triathlon dis­tance we are best at. Last year, when she phoned him at the fin­ish line in Pen­tic­ton af­ter he won Ul­tra­man Canada and set a world age group record, Aimers said, “Kevin, I guess you’ve found your dis­tance.”

The Ot­tawa triath­lete is in Hawaii pre­par­ing for the Ul­tra­man World Cham­pi­onships, which ac­cepts a max­i­mum of 40 com­peti­tors. Here’s how he has pre­pared for the world cham­pi­onship and how he plans to com­pete in this pun­ish­ing three-day race.

Train­ing like a triath­lete

Last year in Pen­tic­ton, his goal was to fin­ish, but Kevin Wil­lis won Ul­tra­man Canada in an over­all time of 23:32:07, more than an hour ahead of his clos­est ri­val. He swam 10 km in three hours, biked 425 km in thir­teen, then ran a dou­ble marathon in seven and a half hours.

To train for the up­com­ing world cham­pi­onships, the 5'8" triath­lete, who weighs 138 pounds, does the same pe­ri­odized train­ing as other triath­letes – just a lot more of it. By Septem­ber, Wil­lis was log­ging 25 hours per week, bal­anc­ing dis­tance with in­ten­sity. “I think it is im­por­tant to get used to swim­ming, bik­ing and run­ning for long pe­ri­ods, but also to build up strength and en­durance through in­ten­sity.”

What does he think about while train­ing? “Dur­ing those long hours, there’s very lit­tle oxy­gen go­ing to the brain, so I am un­able to do things like think deep thoughts or nav­i­gate,” Wil­lis jokes. Ac­cord­ing to his sup­port crew, he isn’t kid­ding about his lack of nav­i­ga­tion skills. In Pen­tic­ton he lost nine min­utes on the bike due to a wrong turn. “I do most of my train­ing alone, and I usu­ally just fo­cus on tech­nique,” he adds. “How is my swim stroke? Am I ped­alling smoothly? How is my run form? It is a very long race, and as soon as you lose your tech­nique, you start wast­ing en­ergy and slow­ing down. So I do not think of dis­tance cov­ered but fo­cus on tech­nique and keep­ing steady.”

Coach Aimers says this abil­ity is key. “Kevin puts his head down and gets the work­out done with very lit­tle

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