The fastest women ever over the half-distance, Helle Frederiksen, has her sights set on the Ironman World Championship this year. Some insights from the Danish star on her 2018 plans, new sponsors and more.
March 28, 2018 | PERSONALITY|
Denmark's Helle Frederiksen has enjoyed quite a career since turning pro in 2008. She went to the Olympics in 2012, is the fastest woman ever over the half distance (3:55:50), and, in her Ironman debut, became the fastest Danish women ever thanks to her 8:55 clocking in Arizona last year. Last year she took silver at the ITU Long Distance World Championship, her first venture into long-distance racing.
In addition to all her sporting success, Frederiksen received her master’s degree in human nutrition from the University of Copenhagen in 2008.
TriathlonWorld.com caught up with Frederiksen while she is training in Clermont, Florida.
TriathlonWorld.com: You began your move to long-distance racing in Penticton last year and followed that up with your big race in Arizona. What has been the biggest challenge for you in the transition from half-to full-distance racing?
Helle Frederiksen: The biggest challenge has been learning to gain confidence from the training output despite their being no history of work. It is all very new. Which I actually love. There is no journal for me to look back on with training notes, performance data etc. I’ve religiously kept a training log since I turned professional in 2008. Every day I write about every session I do, I report on how a session went, the sensations, my outputs and paces etc. All for the purpose of learning. The trouble is, my entire history of work is focused around Olympic and half-distance, there is limited entries that talk about epic long rides, challenging long runs etc. So it has been challenging to know what paces should I be proud of, what workouts are the “key workouts” that will boost me to the next level. But I must say I’m really enjoying the process of learning. Even if I look at Arizona, I gain great confidence to see how the Arizona preparation was put together and what I got out of that race as an example.
TriathlonWorld.com: Heading into last year you had been facing a long period of injury. Did you learn anything from that time that has helped you as a person and as an athlete?
Injuries and setbacks are never easy. I’ve had my fair share during my career, and every time I learn. Surprisingly one of the biggest things I've learned in recent years is how much of an important role a healthy mind plays on recovery from injury. As athletes we tend to hit a heightened level of stress when injured, we panic, we think the worst, we tend to overthink, we over analyze and ultimately we doubt. All of these things do not actually positively contribute to recovery of injury. Growing aware of this and experiencing it first-hand has made me a lot more balanced and calm in times of hardship. Sure I’m still probably a nightmare to be around when things are not running smooth, but at least I’ve gotten better 😊
What does the rest of the year look like in terms of racing as you build up to Kona?
This year is built around Kona and being in my best physical condition come October. I’m in the fortunate position to have good points, despite only having done one Ironman. The fact that I can be competitive at 70.3 and 70.3 Championships means that (providing I get a couple of good results under my belt in 70.3’s) I technically don’t have to race another Ironman in 2018. I’ve had my eyes on Ironman Texas, I’m on the start list, but I’m still tentative on whether I will race. I’m lacking some run volume at the moment and I’ve always said to myself that I won’t put myself through an Ironman just for the sake of it. I don’t need to race Texas, and as much as I want to, I need to have the big season picture in mind. June and July are massive months for me this year with the Ironman 70.3 European Championships and ITU Long Distance World’s on home soil in Denmark. Those races I see as an excellent lead in for Kona prep.
You’ve had a few new equipment sponsor announcements this year – you’re with Trek and just announced that you are working with Fe226. What drew you to working with those brands?
I really believe that quality counts. I want to put my name to brands that I can authentically represent, that I don’t feel forced to talk about. I’m really attracted by brands that value product quality and product performance. Trek and Bontrager fitted in just perfect. Fe226 is a new venture and a completely new brand, they are passionate and they have a no compromise approach, which I like. Very quickly it was clear that Fe226 were able to provide me with a performance advantage when it comes to race suits. They truly understand what is required when it comes to apparel design and performance. They are capable of producing products that are quick across all three disciplines. Fabric quality, stitching, design, fit, breathability and comfort are all focuses that were attractive to me during testing. All of which are crucial for realizing my ambition in Kona.
My cooperation with Fe226 is more than a traditional sponsorship. Fe226 is a breath of fresh air for me as an athlete, they value my experience, my input and my recommendations. They immerse me into their culture and environment in order to help them become one of the leaders. I applaud this approach. Utilizing athletes to broaden their horizon. I have been able to work closely with the London product team for women specific products that will surface in 2018, combining speed and comfort with a beautiful and feminine design.
What are your goals for Kona?
I want to win every race I’m on the start line of. But I’m very respectful of what Kona is, the race is unique, it breaks the best and is so unpredictable. If I am on the start line of Kona having prepared as best as I can, then I believe I can be very competitive.