Test coming for training scheme

BY JANE SEWELL
Last updated 05:00 16/05/2009

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Christchurch ironwoman Gina Ferguson is trying a new approach to race recovery in her upcoming European season.

Experimenting with race recovery features highly in Kiwi ironman Gina Ferguson's latest venture to Europe.

The Christchurch athlete leaves for Austria on Monday where she will put to use the training she has done since winning Ironman New Zealand in March.

She has scheduled two half ironman and two full ironman events while overseas although her main focus this year remains the world championship Ironman Hawaii in October.

Ferguson hopes to use the two full-distance races as something of an experiment with her recovery and training.

She will compete in the Ironman France on June 28 and just two weeks later front up at the Challenge Roth in Germany.

"It would be much easier if I could do a big block of training, then do two races two weeks apart," she said.

Ferguson normally competes in the 3.8 kilometre swim, 180km cycle and 42.2km run with a five or six week gap between events.

She recovers well but has found she feels "a little bit flat" after that as she switches back into training mode.

Now Ferguson wants to test the waters by getting back on the start line sooner.

"I feel that in training two weeks after a race I feel very good," she said. "But you can't really tell how you'll feel in a race until you've been in that situation.

"I'm just trying this while I'm at the beginning of my career and if it doesn't work out ... then I won't do it again."

Ferguson said Ironman France had long been on her wishlist because of the hilly course.

"I think it will really suit me and I've always wanted to do it."

She was the only woman last year to go sub-nine hours on two occasions one of those on the fast Roth course where she clocked 8h 57min.

"I'm a lot faster than I was last year so if I was fresh I'd definitely be going faster than what I did [in 2008] so we'll just wait and see."

Ferguson has concentrated on her run during her latest training block which she had found "refreshing".

"For the last two years it's been total cycling because it's been the thing I found most difficult."

She has since made great progress on the bike and now wants to take the time to work on the marathon leg.

"My training has been quite different in that I'm doing a lot more sort of fast running and it's been refreshing mentally to be able to focus on something else," she said. "I feel I've made a big step up with it but I'll see what it's like going off the bike in a race situation.

"I'm only six weeks into the new training and the goal is obviously to be a lot faster when I go to Hawaii."

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Ferguson has won the last three ironman events she has entered including her breakthrough at Ironman New Zealand in Taupo when she ended the six-year domination by Joanna Lawn.

The rest of her year, however, is dedicated to Kona in Hawaii where she finished eighth on debut last season.

"Hawaii is the main race," she said.

Both she and her partner, Brett, will enjoy their two months in Europe, following a similar routine to their trip overseas last year.

The pair have packed their tent and between races they will camp.

"We try and do it as cheaply as we can although we're lucky that race organisers give us accommodation so that's the only time we'll stay in a bed really," Ferguson said with a laugh.

It is the ideal scenario for both of them.

"We get to see a lot of the countryside as opposed to the cities, which is nice."

Austria is their first stop on the road trip and Ferguson is hoping for a little more luck in the half ironman than her first attempt two years ago.

She crashed off her bike descending a steep hill in wet weather in 2007 and "ripped up by legs pretty bad" and suffered a gash on her face and a black eye.

Ferguson remained in the lead group for the first 60km but lost ground on the second bike descent, ultimately finishing sixth.

She was, however, cheered on wildly by the Austrian men in the crowd.

"I thought this was because they enjoyed seeing a girl racing covered in blood but after the race I found it was probably more likely that I had ripped my togs and was showing a lot more skin than I had anticipated."

- The Press

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