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Episode 36: Ryan Bailie: The First 9 Strokes

PostCover-Ep-36

Live from Spain! Ryan Bailie takes a moment to sit and talk with Sam instead of sleeping. They discuss training and what Ryan does in his down time. Ryan breaks down his young career and the adversity he’s needed to overcome. Traveling around the world, setting his sights on Rio, and what Ryan is doing to take his game to the next level are all a part of today’s episode of Triathlon Research Radio.

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Summary

Prologue
Intro
Training Days
Balancing Work and Play
Getting Started
A Change in Environment
Squad Dynamic
Handling Races
Overcoming Adversity
Taking Care of Business
What Do You Enjoy the Most?
Looking to Rio
Benefits of Coaching
Mental Training
The Outlook
Where is Triathlon Going?
Racing Your Best Mate
Life on the Road
Wrap-Up
Epilogue

Transcript

Samuel Cook
Welcome back Triathlon Research listener, my name is Sam Cook, the founder of Triathlon Research and the host for today’s edition of Triathlon Research Radio. And I’m continuing in our series of taking you behind the curtain of what it’s like to be a professional triathlete on the ITU World Triathlon Series cup circuit. This has been recorded like the last few episode in Vitoria, Spain in Basque Country Spain with today’s guest which is Ryan Bailey and Ryan is one of the top Australian triathletes was just selected for the Rio test event start which is a big honor in a country like Australia where they have probably one of the best triathlon traditions in the world in terms of consistently putting out great triathletes.

So Ryan sitting here with me today and what we’re gonna do is go back through his background, his time with the Wizards and what’s next for him and just give me a little bit more insight on what is like to live and train fulltime as triathlete in case any of you are considering that or even if you’re not, I think the insights you’ll get from this will help you in all areas of your life. So without further ado, Ryan, how are you doing today or sorry, in Australia, it’s how you going?

Ryan Bailie
Yeah, I’m looking on to that mate, that’s how it’s said in Australia. Yeah, we’ve just finished a pretty tough day. I started the day with a 50 minute run with 6 by 1 minute 5k paces, that 5k pace and then hopped in to pool and couple of hours later and did one of the biggest workouts we’ve done for the year which was a 3.2k main set which was pretty chunky. Everything above race pace so it’s exceeding the demands of competition and then we’re lucky here in Victoria that we went out to one of our favorite hills and we added a bit fair Rio specs sort of stuff today. It was a nice chunky hill which, again, exceeded demands of competition and that was 10 by 4 minutes with some of it below race pace and some sort of effort and some exceeding that which is really good way to end the day and legs are pretty fried now.

Samuel
Yeah, I’m pulling Ryan in just for those of you who haven’t heard the last few podcasts, we’re in a middle of a training week where the Wollongong Wizards have invited 4 Triathlon Research athletes in to their training camp and just letting them live and work and train alongside them and see what it’s like to live and train in Spain. And yet today’s workout was pretty brutal and Ryan I think was the only one who had a bit of energy left over to do the interview. So Ryan, the workouts you just described, what was the total training time today?

Ryan
So we spent about obviously just 50 minutes running this morning and then swimming was hour and a half but maybe 3.2k so it was instead of breaking full hundreds that we did so it was a 200 dive, 200 without being the first 25 max to replicate racing and then you straight in to threshold from that on the 230 cycle in a short course school. And then from there, we went straight in to 100 on 130 which was bit quicker than what you swam in the 200 and then straight in to 250s, quicker again and went through that, was it 8 times? Yes, so it was 8 fours which is pretty brutal. And then the ride time this arvo about 2 ½ hours with obviously 40 minutes worth of quality working there.

Samuel
Okay. So that’s a typical day, probably one of your harder days and for the Americans, arvo means afternoon. But the typical day, 4 ½ hours of training? You’ve got a little bit of recovery in there, what do you do with the rest of your day? I mean, 18 more hours in the day, what are you gonna do?

Ryan
So obviously this morning, I wake up at about quarter past 7 so pretty leisurely wake up time there. Met the group at 7:45 and we drove about to where we’re in. We’re back at the apartment set about just after 9. Had a quick breakfast to eat and we rolled out at 9:45 in that time box to be at the pool for about quarter past 10 and then we swam from 10:30 to just after 12. Post swimming, I like to go to a café and have a bit of ???[0:05:06] like a little café which is sort of like we’ve lunched there. And then we’re back at the apartment at about 1:30. Had a bit more of a bite to eat and then talked myself in to bed from about quarter to 2 ‘til about quarter past 3. Wake myself up, hangout in washroom, unfortunately, I don’t have someone who does my washing for me so I had to hang that up. And then we’re on the bike at 4 o’clock and we’re done after 6:30 – quarter to 7. Had dinner and down here on this podcast just after 9 so pretty busy day but we’re lucky that we do get to rest and that’s why I can produce a quality day in day out. At typical day, there would also be massaging corporate as well, I’ll have to go sort of every second days whether that’s outside of physio masseuse. We’re lucky we’re here in Victoria that we do have a physio masseuse available.

Samuel
Yeah. So Triathlon Australia and Triathlon Canada which are 2 federations that support the Wizards, you guys have physiotherapist or physio on staff full time who works on injuries or slight issues you’re having with muscles or helps you with exercises and then you get, what is it, 30 – 45 minute massage?

Ryan
Yeah, 45 minutes, yeah.

Samuel
45 minutes massage.

Ryan
Straight for up to 6 hours a day. And generally all that treatment is done post training coz it’s the best way to sort of do it. You don’t sort of want to be gone from massage at 12 o’clock during the day and have a hard session in the arvo, I guess we’re lucky that way that we can get elite treatment down at night, it’s just not the better way to recover.

Samuel
Yeah. So really the thing that I’ve learned watching the Wizards and I kinda knew this because I was, have done some other training and seeing pros operate but really the big difference between pros and elites for a lot of people who are in the elite ranks is just getting that time to put in the quality work but more importantly, recover coz I think a lot of elite or age group athletes that really wanna do well, they might do a lot of those similar type of workouts obviously not with the squad and being pushed as much but then they’re going in their day job 8 hours a day and you guys luckily don’t have to do that.

Ryan
Yeah, for sure. I mean, ??? [0:07:28] family to factor in so there goes the afternoon nap I guess, you got the kids to look after or dinner to think of, we’re just lucky I guess, we’re selfish in a way, it’s just all about yourself and yeah, looking for those marginal games to produce the best next session you can possibly and that’s why I guess we work full time.

Samuel
So you’re saying you don’t have a family, what’s the average age of all the Wizards here?

Ryan
So I’m 24…

Samuel
24, you’re one of the old men in the group, right?

Ryan
Yeah. Brandon is a bit older obviously and Gwen is older again. So yeah, I guess there’s a group of us who are in that 24 age bracket and then there’s a couple of young Canadians who were like 20 – 21 and make you sort of feel old. The session I described in the morning, you sort of sometimes may be walking a bit gingerly, it lets my ???[0:08:19] and then coz he’s obviously still young. But the average age I’d say would be that young 20…

Samuel
And most of them, I don’t think any of them are married at this point, all still just getting their feet under and haven’t, a lot of you haven’t been in university yet either, right?

Ryan
No, so yeah, a lot of us obviously aren’t married, Gwen is obviously the one. There’s couple of relationships within the Wizards but that might be another podcast.

Samuel
Exactly. For announcements and things like that so…

Ryan
Yeah. With university in Australia is quite high to sort of juggle both. I sort of moved to Jamie or to the Wizards at the end of 2009 and had the vision I just kinda have the idea after finishing my year 12 education and do getting to university to do PE teaching or physical ed teaching. And yeah, I have just never touched university purely because of the hours that we do operate and sort of if you wanna make it as professional triathlete. And I was looking at the days use in your life in there for so long but university is there for the rest of your life if you really wanna go back and give it a crack if that’s what you wanna do.

Samuel
Yeah. And one of the things that I’ve seen and talked to many age group peers and elites at our camps who come is that they would love to go pro and I take some of them aside and say, you know that these guys, they don’t do anything but train and you have to find a way to compete let alone to not just to get in to the age group or the professional ranks but to compete with them, you have to find a way as quickly as possible, forget every single distraction in your life or they’re competing with people like you who that’s all you do.

Ryan
Yeah, for sure. I mean, also the big thing about turning pro is you got to have a bit of money behind you. Obviously, if you’re not winning races, you’re not making money or if you don’t have a good support and a group behind you, it’s tough. I mean, I remember when I first moved at the end of 2009, I just finished a solid year for just working and training. Was working to get between 20 – 30 hours a week just purely to get some money behind me so I could be short for a bit and take that financial burden, I guess of my mom. Yeah, it is hard when you first start out but comes easier just you start seeing success and that’s, at the end of the day, it’s how bad you want it because a lot of the guys are pros as good as each other but it’s who wants, who has the next little edge or next little bit to get most out of themselves.

Samuel
Yes. So you just talked a little bit about how you got in to it, it sounds formulaic now or easy but was it easy getting started, was it easy making the decision to do this? Was it easy with your family and everything? Talk a little bit about that.

Ryan
Yes. So I was born in Johannesburg, we immigrated to Australia when I was 6. I don’t I remember much time in Africa, I was lucky I was able to go back last year at the Cape Town WTS leg. Obviously I was from Johannesburg but that was the first time I’ve been back in 18 years so that’s pretty cool. And yeah, obviously Australia has been an awesome place to grow up, there’s so many opportunities. I served a lot through school, do a little bit of cross country, played a sport called AFL, Australian Football which is kind of, that the Americans think kind of funny. And at the age of 15, I sort of have to choose between one or the other coz I’m quite slight athlete, they sort of wanted me to get bigger and I had a fair dig or could have got a fair dig at going AFL, probably made a lot more money than thinking of triathlete. But triathlon went out and I kept doing all my schooling and kept triathlon right up there progressing through the junior ranks and then made a junior relay team. And then in 2009, I represented Australia as an age group on the ???[0:127] worlds and ended up the winning 18 – 19 age group. And yeah, from there, I’ve got approached by Triathlon Australia, I was gonna move to Perth and just do university and training fulltime and then Jamie Turner got in contact and said, no, you’re moving to Wollongong or forget about your triathlon dream. And I packed up all my stuff and left my mom and family behind and yeah, made the 5 hour flight across the Wollongong and have never looked back.

Samuel
So when Jamie called you, was there any hesitation on your part or your family’s part?

Ryan
Obviously there was never a hesitation, it was just in to the unknown. I guess everyone’s scared of being outside that comfort zone especially being inside like your bubble and for me to have a crack, I have to be outside my comfort zone and explore the world I guess and I’m glad I’ve taken on, yeah, just led so much doing triathlon.

Samuel
So 2010, that is when you went to join Jamie and the Wizards?

Ryane
Yes. And then in 2009, I did a 6 week block, went home for Christmas and then packed up for good and was gone outside for 6 days and then never went back home. It was a hard year in 2010, I didn’t travel to Europe so I did a lot of work on my weaknesses, my swim and bike. Did a lot of racing through Australia in my push, on my ride bike and then at the end of 2010, I did my first few ITU races across Chile in South America and had a great time. Had a Pan American Cups with couple of podiums and then in 2011, it was just head down, come to Europe and just progressed and just keep moving forward.

Samuel
So what was, now you grew up in Perth which is Western Australia and for those of you who aren’t familiar with Australia geography, I’ve never been to Perth but I hear it’s a lot like California in America meaning there’s nothing really but desert off the coast and Perth is a really nice, probably really nice town to be in. So what was it like moving from that environment to travelling all over the world as a triathlete? I imagine you probably had a bit of a family structure there and had you left a lot, had you left the West Coast of Australia much or?

Ryan
Like always, traveling a little bit with my family but you always had someone I guess watching you. This was the first time I could sort of do whatever I wanted. I mean, ???[0:14:57] is a nice place to grow up, it has still park and the best beaches in the world. Obviously I slept a lot growing up because that’s what you do and yet, it’s still lovely spot that some of the spot you see around the world, it’s great, you’re very lucky with what we do, how much we travel. Obviously, we don’t get to see a lot when we go to WTS events because you’re there, particularly you do a job. I can tell you whatever airport looks like and where the next tour is or I know the airports pretty well but yeah, we’re very lucky with what we’re doing. When we set our training in the Basque Country, it’s just great for riding and trails for running and there’s like 7 different pools we can choose from swimming in Victoria which is just next level.

Samuel
Yeah, it’s really is a special environment. How was it adjusting to the team environment or to having a coach who’s there with you and a team environment overall, what was that adjustment like from being bit more of a lone wolf when you’re growing up? That’s the most of triathletes start as out there by themselves.

Ryan
Yeah. I think there comes a time where you do need a group environment, the Wizards have been interesting coz currently now, myself and Aaron and Charlotte were the only original ones who have survived since 2010. I’ve seen a lot of athletes come and go and obviously now, this is a core group of who survived and moved sort of growing in to the Wizards with the Canadians joining with Jamie being the head coach. Yeah, group environment is great for some sessions but you also need to know your limits and when to back off and not overstep the muck because you can’t put yourself in to a bit of a haul by overstepping the mark and then you might come off for the next session which requires you to go harder than what you might have yesterday. So there’s catch 22 with the group but I think the group that we do have here with the Wizard is perfect and yet it’s just awesome to thrive off people and when you’re having a bad day, someone else is gonna push you or when you’re having a good day, you might try stick it to them a bit harder and everyone in the group got a strength and someone got a weakness so you can really feed off each other to keep improving and yeah, become world leaders.

Samuel
Look at the squad, you said everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, what do you have your strength in, how do you help other people with your strengths?

Ryan
I guess once I really have a weakness but my major strength now is my riding and that’s what I say I bring to the squad is my ride. As I am a pretty complete triathlete at the minute but you look at someone, a youngster we got now, Jacob, which he brings his run, I mean, the kids run like 7 – 8 minute through case as a junior, I think he run so he’s one of the quickest juniors in Australia over the track. And then as come across to triathlon, you got Aaron Royle as well who’s obviously, his forte is swimming but also he’s a quite complete triathlete. And then a couple of the Canadians are also quite handy in the pool too which is handy to have. And yeah, it’s just a whole group that everyone got their strength who can mix it on that given day.

Samuel
And so you’ve seen the squad really grow, you’re one of the originals with, we’ve just had a podcast with Aaron who say he survived the transition period where people like yourself and Charlotte and the rest of the squad came along, how is the squad changed and grown in terms of watching just the number of people come through, the quality, what would you say has been the biggest difference between 2010 and 2014?

Ryan
I guess 2010 we’re young boys, I mean, I was 18 and you sort of like, I really wanna do this and I guess when you’re 18, sometimes you look for shortcuts to get to the best so some in the original squad might have been taking shortcuts but they might have been biggie and you would think, oh, if I do that, maybe I might be as good as them but as soon as they left the squad, work ethic just sort of totally changed and we also had goals that we sort of working towards but now, the group, the same, I guess it’s just a bigger group with more goals and everyone’s struggling when there’s Olympics or Olympic gold medals and might as well work together and support each other.

Samuel
And as you’ve been, the team has been going out, how intimidating is it to go out in to these World Triathlon Series events? Obviously there’s some huge races, do you ever get nervous before a race or everyone, each groupers I know have huge problems with this but what it’s like being a pro stepping up in the line, are races now so routine, have you guys figured out how to calm yourselves down before races or do you get a bit of butterflies before races?

Ryan
Oh, for sure, we still get nervous and you do have routines to try overcome those nerves but nerves are good likeness. I remember Gulka, she’s super nervous, obviously racing in front of the home crowd but you don’t get that often, it’s the first time a WTS has been there since 2009 when they held the grand finals so that was great race in front of many crowd and then nerves are just flowing. Obviously now the time has Commonwealth Games representing your country for the first time and a major sporting event was another big nervous moment. Yeah, nervous do happen to professionals as well, it’s not something that we don’t get and it’s just how you deal with it to enhance your performance.

Samuel
So you’re talking about Commonwealth Games, what’s been your biggest race up to this point in terms of overcoming those nerves and having success off of that?

Ryan
I guess Commonwealth Games, they have the teams relay addition this year and England was up the front with the ground, it’s pretty much control and yet after their legs and I think Alice was up to the road and there was New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and Canada fighting for second and third and there were 4 teams obviously fighting for 2 medals. And I was running against Richard Maury in the last leg of the teams relay and I remember being tagged by, I think it was Emma Jackson tagged me for the relay and she, I remember someone’s whispering in my ear it’s all up to you big boy…

Samuel
They hug your leg at the relay…

Ryan
It’s pretty intimidating and there’s a lot of cat and mouse in the bike and you knew it was just kinda come down to running race and you have the likes of Maury, he cleared up pretty quickly straight out of transition. Ryan Seasons from New Zealand and Andrew York from Canada and it ended up turning in to a sprint finish between me and Andrew York for the bronze medal and I just remember when I put myself in that situation that nobody remembers fourth and somehow lifted and managed to get a bronze medal and nearly did run down Maury which was a pretty big moment and yeah, something on the back probably on.

Samuel
One of the interesting studies, there was, I think, I can’t remember who’s telling me this, someone really smart in the sport, I’ll credit Bobby McGee coz he’s just, he seen everything, he said that the gold medalist and the bronze medalist are always the happiest because the gold is happy that they won and the bronze are happy that they got on the podium but the silver, they think they should have won gold. But what was it like, was that your first major medal, I mean, you’ve been on the podium before but that really was the highest stakes and also based on not just highest stakes but being a team relay, we had other people at stake, right?

Ryan
Yeah, for sure. I think I was obeying the uncle that gave me don’t let anyone down. Thing that being a triathlete, it’s always individual based, there’s never that team environment so to be able to share the moment as a team is something that I remember old lay until I retire. Get beyond with those athletes so you got a bronze medal with a major game which is pretty special and something that I will probably back on for many years to come.

Samuel
And what’s been, established probably you’re best one in the sport, what’s been the toughest moment for you as a triathlete coz I know it’s not all smooth sailing?

Ryan
Toughest moment was probably when I got overlooked, I think it was 2011 before the end of 2013, I thought I’ve done enough to get in and I didn’t so the only way I could sort of give it, I guess, I didn’t jump up and down and caused a stir but I let my racing do the talking and I went to ???[0:24:14] Mexico and did the World Cup there and it was my first World Cup ever and I was fourth at my first World Cup. And yeah, that was probably pretty tough and it was best performance in under 23 that year from Australia so sort of a way of me let my racing do the talking. And yeah, it was a tough moment for me to be able to look for in under 23 team that you thought you had done enough to get on.

Samuel
And did you get back, you were in the under 23 team after that, right?

Ryan
Yeah, in 2012, when Aaron won the under 23 world title, there’s 4 Australian boys who got selected in Oakland and then just the way the race worked out, there was 3 up the road with Aaron, Josh and Ryan Fisher and in my wide pack, there was some quality runners with match up who would win the year before under 23 world team Beijing and a couple other quick runners and my job purely was to disrupt that second pack, make sure the front pack which had Aaron in it cleared up pretty much and I think they grew up about that 2 ½ minutes and we just have pretty much worked as a team to pick all for Australia which Aaron delivered.

Samuel
That’s interesting that there is a little bit of teamwork, is that on all races or is that just on particular races?

Ryan
That was on that particular race. Aaron I guess, he was been injured in London just recently had a bit of a foot injury and he worked, he knew he wasn’t gonna maybe run depending on how much the front group had and we ended up getting 40 seconds and that was due to Aaron and how high he rode. So I guess that’s about the only other time this really been team tactics from the Australian point of view in racing. I’m sure they’ve done it in previous years that I haven’t been involved at the late level like years before and that yeah, under 23s was the first time I’ve been exposed to it not that it was super expected of us or talked about before coz race can always pan out differently to how you think but at that time, you sort of knew you had a job to do and then it was, yeah, not sacrifice yourself but do what you could to help out the team to get that medal which we knew we could get if the race panned out the way we did.

Samuel
That’s interesting. So no formal plan going in but when you know you’re in a certain situation and you see your teammates from Australia at another place and you do what you need to do.

Ryan
Yeah, for sure. I mean, my race wasn’t over, I mean, I still finish the race in 10th and I think Australia went 1, 5, 8 and 10 which was pretty good day considering there was lots of team tactics involved and Josh Amber who rode super strong on the front along with Aaron, Ryan Fisher to establish that medal winning situation.

Samuel
So as you’ve been going through the IT circuit, what’s your favorite part of it in terms of the race? Do you love the run the most, do you like the bike, I mean, you say before, you’re weak on the bike and now that’s probably your real strength, what’s your favorite part of the race?

Ryan
Favorite part of the race is probably the buildup, a lot of the buildup of the training that leads in to the race and then the take of coming in. Yeah, like I just like every aspect of the triathlon these days. I do like the tougher courses like Oakland WTS, I’ve obviously had some good results there with 5th last year and a 5th again this year so anything that’s a challenging course and test the true triathlete is something I’ve liked. But I’ve also have good results on quick courses which demanded fast run with the 4th this year in London and I think all course this year as well. So yeah, once I really have a weakness but I do like the tougher courses especially the one that they’re describing in Rio.

Samuel
So that’s gonna be a tough course in Rio.

Ryan
Yeah, they’re all saying it’s similar order to Oakland but not quite as tough on the bike but yeah, you never know what to expect I guess until you’ve ridden it and tested it. Obviously, there’s been a lot of data released and we’ve looked at ways to mimic the course in training without having ridden that yet. And yeah, from all accounts, it’s gonna be pretty tough.

Samuel
Like Athens 2004 tough or?

Ryan
Yeah, we’re not talking about as brutal as that but yeah, it’s gonna be hard.

Samuel Cook
It’s interesting. And I guess the 2012 or the London course comparatively is probably a pretty fast , pretty predictable course compared to what Rio is, right?

Ryan
Yeah, I mean, London had a totally different demand, you have to swim faster to help with the ground the boys. And then yeah, save enough in the legs on the bike to be able to produce a pretty quick run. Yeah, if you look at the results of so many guys, 1 out of the 30 minutes and you’ve got nothing for all of that which is crazy.

Samuel
Yeah, it was very fast course definitely in London and you guys are probably pretty familiar with that with all the races that happened there at Hyatt Park. So as you’re going in to the Olympics, how you get the sense that the bigger the race, the more you enjoy it? Do you think that adrenaline’s your friend until you have overload and then it can clam you up and the thing I’ve noticed in my experience in other things in the army and watching people in race, there’s some people have a very low, I call peak, where adrenaline’s good to certain point and then they ended shelled themselves from it but seems like you have a very high adrenaline peak where bigger the stakes maybe the more you perform, would that be fair or?

Ryan
Yeah, for sure. I mean, I just love pressure situation I guess. To get on the Commonwealth Games team, I missed the automatic selection and that in London with the top 8 there and when you’re in next bite of the cherry was gonna be Oakland as inevitably high quality of field. And the first field that sort of presented itself was Oakland and that was obviously numerous amount of strengths, you wanna get on the team and yeah, you came down to all pending, produce the result and the pressure there. So yeah, I do love the pressure situations and other one was obviously Commonwealth Games you had like the way that the team and yourself to anchor the team so yeah, it’s just something I’ve ???[0:31:05]

Samuel
Do you think that’s something is natural or do you think that’s something that’s learned long time ago or is that something you can teach yourself?

Ryan
I don’t know, I think it’s just instinct at the end of the day. Yeah, it’s like when I’ve been in those situations, I haven’t thought about what’s happening around, it’s just pure focus on process I guess and how you can get to that line quicker with less energy or quite a lot faster.

Samuel
And Jamie has talked a lot about process versus outcome in a race and it’s one of the things that I really took from his teaching talking on one of the podcast episode and watching them at the camp we did last year with Gwen, has that training, what do you think has been the most helpful part of Jamie’s coaching for you personally?

Ryan
I think yeah, like you said, the process part, it’s easy to get caught up in races and can’t have any do during front of you or in other race where I could I guess just miss my first. Every test podium was in London, I was just sprint finish for 2nd, 3rd and 4th and I ended up 4th which nobody ever wants that position so like the chocolate medal. But there was times in that race where like I have not been focusing on to process is it could have, yes, it slipped away quicker I guess the race and maybe the guys wouldn’t have run as quick as I did and I feel it because while you’re running, you’re thinking am I doing this with my legs, what am I doing with my arms and you’re just thinking of how you can get to that one quicker as opposed to racing for 2nd, 3rd and 4th.

Samuel
And that’s not a natural human instinct or natural instinct is to compete, it’s to look at other people, to worry, so you really have trained yourself through Jamie’s training to block that out.

Ryan
Yeah, for sure. A lot of it is also with his support stuff that we get access to our work list with the sport psychologist who has enhanced that game of mind, I guess, that I bring to the triathlon now. Triathlon is a lot mental than lot physical and if you can get an edge in mental aspect as well as the physical then you should be a pretty good triathlete at the end of the day.

Samuel
What percentage of racing is mental versus physical?

Ryan
I’d say there’s probably a lot, at our level, let’s say there’s a lot more mental than what there is physical. I mean, a lot of the guys here is physically as gifted if you can say that and a lot of it comes down to the mental aspect as well and lot more comes down to the mental aspect also.

Samuel
So the sport psychologist has definitely helped. Jamie has been, as the head coach of the Wizards, I think really successful teaching race day procedures so that you calm down and don’t freak out on the race. So probably you can teach yourself a lot of this but you’ve probably always had a bit of a competitive adrenaline junkie personality which led you to the sport, right?

Ryan
Yeah, for sure. I mean, a lot of the psychological stuff you can sort of work on like for instance, I was always a bit of a weak swimmer and that’s why I moved to Jamie, I was swimming like 60k weeks in the pool and then I hit my first trump pack London WTS in 2013 and ever since then, I’ve gone back and go thought about how I did that and one thing I always focus on in a race is the first 9 strokes of a race purely not 1,500 meters, it’s where I wanted to be after those 9 strokes and I’m gonna be feeling or thinking and that’s really helped me to set up my race from there.

Samuel
9 strokes.

Ryan
Yeah, first 9 strokes after the horn goes off and all I’m thinking about is what I’m gonna be doing in the next first 9 strokes.

Samuel
Describe those 9 strokes for me in detail.

Ryan
So it’s pretty much the horn goes and it’s just, yeah, arms are swinging as quick as you can but obviously focusing on your catch and there’s obviously no breaths at those first 9 strokes and then there’s a breath and you go normally, if you have normally a decent first 9 strokes and had no trouble, the race is moving up to that.

Samuel
So you really, you’re focusing on those 9 strokes to just get out of the madness, get in to your group, right? You know if you mess those 9 strokes up, you’re just gonna be getting clobbered.

Ryan
Yeah. Not necessarily clobbered but the race could be a lot harder than what it could be if you did get those first 9 strokes. For instance, in London, I had a good swim there but I’ve got double to nothing the second stroke and somebody else wanted to ???[0:35:52], planning to sit on and I think it’s a German athlete just like roadshow at the top of me, obviously not been the biggest athlete. I couldn’t really do much about it other than refocus and, yeah, think of how I was gonna get out myself out of the situation without getting angry or using energy in a silly way. That’s not a thing we do a lot in training is maybe halfway through it, you might knock your goals off and prepare to if that happened during race, how would you react? So all of the time in training we do, obviously it demands competition and, yeah, look at ways to get an inch so in those situations you know what to do.

Samuel
So you consciously rehearse worst case scenarios.

Ryan
Yeah, for sure. I mean, you got to always expect the worst and if that happens then you should be plain sailing I guess.

Samuel
Yeah. And what are some other scenarios on the bike for example that you might rehearse? Obviously transition and other things are important but what else?

Ryan
Biking I think the biggest thing nowadays is as the pack is getting bigger positioning and also especially coming in to transition to fight all these days. He can’t afford to get the locks of the band of brothers 5 seconds out of the transition but if you can get 5 seconds before they start in to the front of the race and make sure it’s a lot easier. So there, like are the areas you can work on to improve your triathlon game.

Samuel
So let’s step back a little bit, we’ve talked a lot and it’s been really great insights in to the mechanics of racing, why do you think you’re doing this overall, what’s your big outlook in life and how does triathlon fit in to that or have you figured that out yet?

Ryan
Why I’m doing this? I guess as a little kid, I’ve always wanted to go to the Olympics. Being ITU as an Olympic sport, triathlon which really drives me every morning I guess to be able to represent your country, the Olympics would be pretty awesome and it will be a box that I’ve ticked. I would see myself racing until 2020, up until 2020 and then slowly emerging to the moon drafting sort of stuff. And who knows I would love to go to university but also in the same sense, I would love to do some coaching maybe, stay on the track, but yeah, who knows what tomorrow brings. Yes, but at the minute, I’m chasing that Olympic dream.

Samuel
So chasing the Olympic dream and do you feel like you have some, so you feel like you might have some coaching in you in the long future I guess?

Ryan
Yeah, for sure. I love going back home and helping out with the little inputs we call and ship in young guys and they really just seeing excitement I get from the sport, this is how I felt as a kid, a good athlete used to come along and I love giving back in that sense as well and that’s probably why I’d love to go to coaching coz I love to see the satisfaction that people get out of this good sport.

Samuel
And you probably haven’t had a lot of chance to do that yet in the sport, you’ve been so busy.

Ryan
Yeah, for sure. I mean, I love it when people, even fans write you and ask you questions, it’s just good that they’re so enthusiastic about a sport that you enjoy as well and I guess and they get so much reward and just have generally a good time doing something I love which is why I do it as well because I truly love it.

Samuel
And finally, you’ve talked about what you wanna accomplish, where do you see the sport of triathlon going? I mean, you’re young, you’ve been in the sport for quite a while but you’ve seen quite a bit of it first in Australia, now in Europe and then the States in your travels, what do you think is happening to the sport right now and where do you see ways that you wish it would develop differently or do you think it’s all in the right track right now?

Ryan
I think triathlon is booming, it’s obviously a good sport to get involved in obviously coz it’s not so panning on the body, you do have the swimming aspect and the riding which is probably a good thing. A lot of people seem to be taking it up I guess, lay it down the track…

Samuel
It’s a good adult onset, sport to take on.

Ryan
Yeah, for sure. One aspect I guess you might like is I guess for age group is it’s quite expensive, it’s kind of a rich man’s sport. When you’re looking at bikes costing upwards of what, 16,000 dollars? Which is just crazy but then in the other aspect, you can do triathlon in mountain bike which is awesome. Again, the sport is booming and I guess it’s going the right way. Obviously I’d like to see it maybe a bit more commercial, bit more televised easily for people. I mean, you can sit and watch the world surfing league on internet, on YouTube for free purely just because of how popular it is and hopefully triathlon gets to that stage one day where you can just login on a computer and don’t have to pay, that would be awesome but I think we’re looking years down the track there with ITU but it is going in the right way.

Samuel
Yeah. I think that the sport really is seeing an interesting boom and popularity but there’s definitely some places to go. I’ve always said that I think pro triathlete should probably make a bit more of a living and it should be a little bit easier on them. But you guys are I think doing great with what you have which is not a whole lot compared to other sports and the pure passion because the sport doesn’t have a lot of money, I think there’s something to that. But at the end of the day, you guys all need a future at the end of the sport and that’s something I think the sport definitely needs. And from my perspective is little bit better future for the pros who put so much in to make these races and all these things successfully. You guys are the ones that are inspiring the hey troopers and drawing more people to the sport.

Ryan
Yeah, for sure. I mean, as pros, you do look after pretty well but there are so few that are making good money. I mean, you look at the top 10 on the IT World Series at the minute, like I’m seeding 6 and I’m winning 7 making what the top 6 golfer in the world is making at the minute but I’m doing okay, I mean, I’m doing something I love but then in the same aspect, you wanna walk away from triathlon with something behind you whether it’s a house or yeah, you don’t wanna leave the sport after being involved in 20 years with nothing behind your back. Yeah, you do wanna be able to live life after being a triathlete.

Samuel
Yeah. And that’s something that hopefully the sport develop soon coz I think the sooner the professionals have a great, I think future ahead of them I think the more the sport will grow coz more people be chasing that future.

Ryan
Oh yeah, for sure.

Samuel
Certainly a matter of supply and demand and economics always kicks in and draw some more talent to the athletes in the sport that might not have come in to it.

Ryan
Yeah, for sure, yeah, take a break.

Samuel
Well Ryan, thank you again. Oh, last question: just interviewed Aaron and he’s your roommate and you guys are training buddies, roommates, best buds but also racing, what is that like racing your best mate out there and how do you guys recover after a race?

Ryan
Yeah, so we’re obviously good friends. We both enjoy when each is going well and do obviously love to beat each other but at the end of the day, we’re racing the world. Aaron is better than me on FIFA on PlayStation 3, we did buy a PlayStation this year from cash converted, down time activity that we do enjoy just to get away from triathlon and just sit there and you don’t think about sport or anything but other than how I’m gonna kick a goal and beat Aaron in this so I got bragging rights for the next week. But yeah, obviously Aaron and I are pretty good friends and outside will be pretty good friends post triathlon. Yeah, we do just enjoy having a beer together and, yeah, we do like it when we’re both going well and we bounce off each other and I might be injured and yeah, just keep each other pretty in check.

Samuel
And then finally, you said there’s a relationship or two in the Wizards so you’ve got a girlfriend in the Wizards and what is that like living and training on the road and meeting someone like that?

Ryan
Yeah, it’s pretty good obviously. I would like it if she made dinner more and just keeping together and whatever else, and it would be good if she hangout my washing more often.

Samuel
So she’s not doing any of the things that you typically would, 20 years ago, sexist Australian would expect but you’re a new age now and you’re fine, right?

Ryan
Yeah, for sure. I’m doing all the cooking and doing all her washing. No, it’s actually good, I always said I never really wanted to get into a relationship with a triathlete coz there’s something you live and breathe every day and I don’t wanna finish training and then all you talk about is triathlon but it’s worked out quite well. And yeah, we do everything opposite from triathlon when we finish training and now it’s sort of like a getaway. And yeah, it’s just good to have someone with you all the time pretty much.

Samuel
And there’s, I was just interviewing Brenda ???[0:45:22] and Tim ???[0:45:23], probably the most famous tri couple out there right now and until obviously you and your girlfriend get up there, right? But they told me it’s really cool to have someone who understands what they’re going through and there are a lot of couples out there who are in the sport together and I’ve also found talking to couples that the ones who did dating someone who is not in the sport can view triathlon and resent it and say that your mistress as they call it and other things so maybe you are maybe a little bit lucky in that respect.

Ryan
Oh, for sure. I mean, I probably wouldn’t have relationship if I wasn’t into triathlete because purely we’re away for so long, I mean, we’re away from home for after 6 months a year, if not more, and it’d be hard for a relationship to work on it as a couple. The guys that do have long term relationships says it hard, like yeah, obviously not huge fans of you being away and also, yeah, I mean, you go to a bar in Australia and you say you do triathlon and some people already like, oh, so you run those marathons? So yeah, it’s kinda good that you do have someone who understand what you do and obviously understands when you’re gonna be tired and when you just need some time alone.

Samuel
Well Ryan, thanks again for, man, we covered a lot of ground there talking about a day in the life of triathlete, some very specific tips on what to think about on race day to calm your mind, process versus outcome and then finally just talking about the great relationships you developed in the sport in terms of what it done for you.
And for those of you listening, if you don’t know what a squad environment is like, we’re gonna be putting a lot more content on our Facebook page, YouTube channel with videos with people like Ryan and Aaron and the other Wizards. So if you like to learn a little bit more about what they’re doing, please check that out on Facebook and YouTube and also I’m looking forward to hopefully doing a lot more work with the Wizards in the future and given those of you who wanna get exposed down to some more opportunities through other means which we’ll announce one of these days soon. So Ryan, thanks again for taking some time to enlighten our audience and finally, Triathlon Research listener, thank you for supporting this podcast by listening to it all the way through. If you enjoyed this episode which I’m assuming you did if you kept on it or you had a really long boring run, please go ahead and take the time to review us on iTunes, every review makes a difference, helps inform other triathletes out there about this great series of podcast. I think we probably have more world champions on the Triathlon Research podcast than any other and probably some future ones too. And just take the time to watch the videos that the Wizards are putting out right now, it’s great content and I’m sure it will help you both improve your skills and inspire you to chase your dreams in the sport. So until next episode, this is Sam Cook signing off for Triathlon Research Radio. Thank you Ryan again.

Ryan
Thank you.

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