Armed with a new coach and a new training approach, two-time Ironman 70.3 world champion Michael Raelert continues his quest for Kona.
February 22, 2018 | PERSONALITY|
TriathlonWorld.com: Michael Raelert, how do you rate the 2017 season?
Michael Raelert: The season was really mixed, so I wasn't really satisfied. Of course, it sounds good to be the European champion, but overall I fell short of my expectations. I wanted to fight for victory in Hawaii and the Ironman 70.3 World Championship, so I did not achieve my two most important goals. In hindsight, I can say that at the beginning of the year, I trained too much in Thailand and then got into a negative spiral that I could not get out of. At some events it worked quite well, but it was not enough for the big goals. I was still struggling with injuries and was sick more often, which suggests that the training was too much for my body. At the end of the season I made the rookie mistake of trying to force things to try to improve the season somehow.
You did not compete in your last race until the end of November. Have you given your body a chance to recover since then?
The race in Australia finally opened my eyes. Although I felt physically good in the run-up and the results in training were promising, my head wasn't into it and I wasn't willing to push myself. If the head doesn't cooperate, you have no chance to react once you fall behind. You have to be flexible and react to the situation, but I just wasn't able to say, "I can do this again." After that race I needed to pull the plug on the season. I enjoyed a lot of chocolate, put my feet up and checked out a lot of sunsets. That was the time for me to review the season and analyze what went well. Up until Christmas I considered where I want to go and how I should continue. Since then I've been building on my form.
How have things gone so far?
Very good, I have to say. Of course you quickly realize what's missing, but also that many things are coming back slowly. The solid structure of the training and training with the group helps me immensely. Even though I'm not fitter than I was at this time last year, I feel much fresher and am having more fun.
How has your training changed?
I feel more disciplined and feel like I have a clear structure. I have confidence in the training plan and feel like we've incorporated things that worked in the past. I especially like the fast, short efforts that have worked for me in the past. I haven't done those over the last few years - I did a lot of long distance training. That was tough mentally and I wasn't having fun any more.
Now the training has been changed around and it is more fun and I am doing more speed. I haven't been going right to the limit, but when you are with a group you push yourself more than you would if you were alone. On the other hand, it's nice to see that everyone in the group is so professional and doesn't do crazy stuff.
Last year you were in Thailand for a long time to train. Is this season another long training camp planned?
The first part of the season I will train at home and do some training blocks with the Erdinger Alkoholfrei team in the sun in Europe. After that, based on the early race results I can decide where will be the best place to continue to improve.
Will the Ironman World Championship still be the goal in 2018?
Yes, I want to be on the podium in Kona. I've discussed this with my coach and we believe that is possible. Of course, to win, a lot of other things will have to go well. i hope that I will be competitive over the half-distance, too, and be able to race at the front.
Ironman South Africa is the first opportunity to score points for Hawaii.
I'll wait a bit longer to get through the first training phase and confirm that, but that's the plan. In the best case scenario, I can then get quaified for Hawaii in mid-April. I think I have the potential for the long distance, and I still live the dream of racing in Hawaii with my brother. We both believe that we can be there. I realize that sport is difficult to plan - sometimes you commit to a big goal and then you are sick three days before. Hopefully it will be different this year.
What other races do you have planned?
In September I would like to start at the 70.3 world championship in South Africa and be in the mix. There are also some regional competitions such as the Chiemsee Triathlon and, probably, The Championship in Samorin. I hope I can show what I am capable of in those races. It is also possible that I'll compete at other German races. For example, I would like to race at Ironman Hamburg, but I do not know yet whether my body will be able to handle a race so close to Hawaii.To be able to start in front of friends and family, though, would be very exciting.