Analyzing Alex Yee's training before his ITU Cape Town World Cup win

Alex Yee, the 20-year-old phenom from Great Britain, blazed into the spotlight with an impressive win at the ITU World Cup Cape Town. A look at his last four weeks of training before his big win.

| February 13, 2019 | TRAINING

Alex Yee was able to use his running strength to capture the sprint distance in Cape Town for his first world cup victory.

Alex Yee was able to use his running strength to capture the sprint distance in Cape Town for his first world cup victory.

Photo >Wagner Araujo / ITU Media

He could become the next Mario Mola, not only because he is roughly the same size, but because of his exceptional performance in the sport's third discipline.

Last weekend, 20-year-old Alex Yee from the United Kingdom won his first world cup race. In Cape Town he bested his competitors in the final five km thanks to a 14:41 run split to take the biggest success of his young triathlon career. Yee is no stranger to fast run times - last year he ran 13:34 for 5,000 meters and an impressive 27:51 for 10,000 meters. In addition to his triathlon racing, Yee, who was born in 1998, competes  several times a year in high-profile international running competitions on the track. In 2018, he took part in the European Championships in Berlin, where he made the final in the 10,000 meters, finishing in a time of 28:58. In 2015 Yee, then 17, participated for the first time in the IAAF World Youth Championships, where he competed in the 3,000 meters, finishing in 8:28. Now the focus for young Brit is primarily on triathlon and the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. And, as Yee proved in Cape Town, he is a hot candidate for the British Olympic team.

What is particularly exciting for triathlon fans is that the exceptional runner is very transparent with his training data. We took this as an opportunity to take a closer look at the four training weeks before his success in Cape Town and evaluate them.

Week 1 (January 14 to 20)

This week, four weeks before the World Cup race in Cape Town, Yee traveled to Stellenbosch, South Africa, for a training camp. He trained together with pros Tom Bishop, Elliot Smales and Jack Willis. Since Yee only publishes his cycling and running data, his swim training will be left out of the evaluation. (We do know that he swam four to six times a week, totalling 20 to 30 kilometers).

The running volume this week was 90.4 kilometers, while Yee completed 430 kilometers on the bike. The only interval session he had this week was a session that consisted of 12 minutes, 9 minutes, 6 minutes and 3 minutes efforts, each with a 1:30 minute break. For each of those intervals he went: 3.98 kilometers (3:01 min / km), 3.08 kilometers (2:56 min / km), 2.11 kilometers (2:51 min / km) and 1.14 kilometers (2: 39 min / km).

The other seven runs of the week were low intensity efforts, runs where he averaged 4:20 to 4:50 min / km. For an athlete whose 10km race pace is 2:47 minutes per kilometer, that speed is actually slow, in relative terms. This pace range is seen in the following weeks for his easy sessions, which was important so Yee could perform his hard units with this impressive intensity and speed. The Brit's training during the training camp in South Africa followed a very bipolar approach - either very easy or very hard. In terms of threshold work, Yee completed only two short runs lasting 15 to 20 minutes during the four weeks.

Week 2 (January 21 to 27)

The second training week in South Africa was Yee's biggest week before the race in Cape Town. The 20-year-old ran 105.75 kilometers this week, split over nine runs. On the bike he managed 356 kilometers in a total of six rides. Yee completed two tempo run efforts this week that would have been demanding even for many world-class runners. In the first session Yee completed three efforts where he ran 800 meters, 600 meters and 400 meters - with a 200 meters jog between the intervals and a 400 meter break between each set. His splits: 2:03.9, 1:32.3 and 59.3 for the first set; 2:05.6, 1:32.4 and 58.7 for the second set; and 2:06.5, 1:32.4 and 59.2 for the third set.

The second speed session is equally as impressive: twelve minutes and four times three minutes, each with a break of 1:30. In those times he managed to complete 4.07 km (2:57 min / km), 1.08 km (2:48 min / km), 1.04 km (2:53 min / km), 1.12 km (2:40 min / km) and 1.16 km (2:35 min / km).

Week 3 (January 28 to February 3)

Even a week before the race, Yee kept the volume and intensity relatively high, but decreased his biking volume. Yee ran 104.5 kilometers in week three of the South Africa training camp and cycled 176 kilometers. This week, the Brit completed two tough run workouts, but the intervals were, on average, slightly shorter than during the weeks before. Once, Yee ran 3 x (4 x 400 meters) with 100 meters of jogging between the first intervals in the series and 200 meters of jogging in the second two series. The set break was 500 meters and 400 meters of jogging. Yee's times are, once again, impressive: 66 secs, 65 secs, 66 secs and 67s sec in the first set, with the break of 30 seconds averaging 4:45 min / km. Afterwards, Yee went faster: 65 secs, 65 secs, 64 secs and 64 secs in set two with a recovery pace of 4:10 to 4:30 min / km and 61 secs, 61 secs, 60 secs and 58 secs in the third set.

The second interval session consisted of nine minutes where he covered 3.08 km (2:55 min / km) followed by two sets of three, two and one minute, each with a one-minute break, with a two-minute break between the series. Yee's times: 1.07 km (2:50 min / km), 0.73 km (2:43 min / km) and 0.38 km (2:40 min / km) for set one and 2:49 min / km, 2:41 min / km and 2:35 min / km for set two.

Week 4 (Race Week: February 4 to 10) 

For race week, Yee reduced both the duration and the intensity of the training. By race time on early Sunday afternoon, Yee had run 47.3 kilometers, just 68.5 km on the bike, which came through three relatively short rides.

On February 5, five days before the race, the Brit completed his last hard run: 800 meters, 2 x 600 meters, and 3 x 400 meters, each with a 1:30 minute break of jogging. His times: 2:07, 1:34, 1:34, 62 secs, 61 secs and 61 secs. His race pace in Cape Town over the five kilometers, in hot weather, mind you: 2:56 per kilometer (14:41 minutes).

Based on his run in those conditions, Yee's running times, as well as his development in recent years and such a young age, indicate that the young Briton is likely to run even faster in the future.