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tony persson - father | coach | ironman 70.3

Posted on July 15 2016

Tony goes the extra mile in his role as a father to 2 daughters, a triathlete and a coach. He is passionate about finding ways to motivate himself, his family and the people he trains to be fitter, stronger and happier. 
Be inspired by his journey to train, qualify and compete in the World Championships for both the half and full ironman distances. 
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background. How did you end up in Malaysia?
I'm a happily married 40 year old dad of two daughters that are 10 and 8 years old. I'm from Sweden and have lived in Malaysia for a few years now. We (my family and I) had a previous short stint in KL and we always wanted to come back. I love sports and outdoor activities. I'm an Ironman certified coach and I coach a few clients. I also coached and trained kids in alpine skiing in Sweden for years. I would like to combine these experiences into coaching kids in Malaysia in epic sport of triathlon.
For me, the greatest gift I can give my kids is an open mind.

Tell us a bit about your background in fitness, sports and racing

I took up long distance triathlons just before moving to Malaysia less than 2 years ago. I previously was active in skiing, mountain biking, trail running and road running for years.

The full Ironman distance is a total of 226km and the half is 113 km in one day and besides a long distance bike race, that distance is by far more than any earlier sports experiences I've previously had.

How is Ironman 70.3 (half ironman) different from other races you've done?

It's different in a number of ways. Firstly, compared to a dedicated swim race, bike race or running race, you can't go at full throttle. During the swim and bike legs you know that you must conserve some energy unless you want to walk the entire half Marathon (which is the last leg of the race). Another difference that is especially valid here in the tropical sun is that the run start is late in the morning, which is HOT even for the fastest of the pros, compared to regular road run races that start early when it's still cool.

 

How do you train and prepare for an intense event like the Ironman 70.3?

Duration

Well, most things I do I like to take on wholeheartedly and even though you'd get by with a sub 10 hours weekly training to complete an Ironman, I've put in weeks with up to 25 hours of training. The training intensity in such a (25 hour training) week is quite low, but it still puts a lot of stress on the body and mind.

Structure 

I start with 2 tougher training weeks followed by an easier recovery week. Over the course of a year I have a "build period", a "base period" and closer to race day the intensity is increased and the training gets more race specific. Finally, before an 'A'-race there is a "form period", also referred to as tapering.

Methods

During the course of a week I train all three disciplines of triathlon (swim, bike, run) with 3-4 workouts per discipline per week. On top of that I do about four other workouts per week. For example, I find yoga to be a great complement to my regime to help with mental focus, balance, and to stretch and strengthen my body. I also do some gym sessions, but most of the strength training I do is sport specific (could be using paddles in the pool or riding the bike uphill at a really slow cadence on the hardest gear). I mix low intensity training with high intensity training.

Nutrition

I eat a modified Paleo diet. Basically I eat a high fat, low carb diet with minimal dairy. I get my carbs from vegetables and fruits. I try to choose locally produced organic foods. With that said I do love a good cake, berry pie or an ice cream and when I eat desserts or treats, I enjoy the indulgence fully!


We know all too well its hard to get up early to train, and to stay motivated to continue training, let alone get the courage to sign up for bigger and tougher races. How would you encourage other people wanting to try the Ironman or any race for that matter? 

If you want to try a triathlon, start small and make steady progress from there. Sprint or Olympic Distance triathlons (for example Port Dickson International Triathlon) is a great start to completing a full Ironman. Get a structured training plan. There are free downloadable generic plans for beginners and there are also lots of coaches who offer individualized training plans at all price ranges. Ironman Coach Match is one tool to find a coach.

The most important advice that I come to think of is: start! I believe that there is too much focus on getting really high end gear first, but to be honest that is not really necessary. That can come much later. What is more important is to get out there and move. If you want to take up running, start to run. That's the hardest part, but the most important step. The super duper ultra light latest shoes, GPS watches, hydration packs and flashy gear can come later.

 

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