Train with a Former Ironman World Champion: A Q&A with Faris Al-Sultan.
Faris Al-Sultan, a triathlon legend, shares insight into his training camp in Phuket.
It is no secret that tackling a triathlon is the ultimate endurance challenge that requires discipline, mental toughness, and proper training. Having the right coach to prepare yourself can do wonders for your athletic performance, and what better way to train for a race than getting coached by a former Ironman World Champion, Faris Al-Sultan?
Faris shares his insight into heat training and delves deeper into his triathlon camp set to take place at Angsana in April 2023.
Q: In what ways does heat training impact triathlon performance?
A: First of all, heat training is an additional stimulus for adaptation. Some studies implicate that heat training is almost like altitude training regarding the increase in stimulus. It depends on each person's personal experience with heat or altitude training, but not everyone is affected in the same way. The benefits of heat training are always relevant to performance. Your heart rate increases, your body stores more water, you sweat more, and, in the end, you become more efficient.
Q: What can people expect from this Triathlon camp?
A: The combination of physical exercise, lectures on everything triathlon, and fun. My motto is that triathlon should enrich your life, not make it more stressful. The basic goal is not only to enhance your knowledge on tackling the sport but to learn about your own body to fully reap the benefits and find enjoyment in it.
Q: Why is Thailand the optimal destination to train for a triathlon?
A: Thailand enjoys warm and stable weather. They have good roads with little traffic and often wide shoulders, beautiful open water swimming options with warm waters, enough infrastructure, gas stations, supermarkets - to refuel during bike rides - hotels from every price range, and nice food almost everywhere. Not to mention bike shops in case maintenance or spare parts are needed.
Q: What makes training in Thailand more special than in other destinations?
A: The sun, beach, palm trees and pleasant weather gives Thailand a holiday atmosphere. Combine this with delicious food and diverse culture and you have a great invitation to find the right balance between activity and relaxation.
Q: Does heat training give you an edge in the competition and if so, how important is it?
A: If your race is in the heat, it is definitely beneficial to train in the heat - the same goes for altitude. Of course, both could be artificially simulated to some degree, but I always prefer the real thing. I am a big Phuket fan, so if I had to prepare for a hot and humid race, I would not think twice. Asia is huge, and cycling in Islamabad or Colombo is a survival trip. In Dubai, Phuket, or Salalah, it is totally different.
Q: When should triathletes do heat training?
A: Tricky question. It depends on the person's opportunities and experiences, but definitely not for your main training block if you have never done it. Usually, an athlete knows about his A race significantly before the race is due. So in a less important phase, you check how you get along with the conditions.
Q: Who is this camp for?
A: The camp is for someone who is able to ride for three hours comfortably at a 27 km/h pace by themselves. Having basic endurance capacity is important, so people are able to take part and have fun - everything else can be taught.
Q: How important is rest and recovery?
A: Sleep and sufficient food are the most crucial recovery measures. Cooldowns, magnetic mattresses, recovery boots, ice baths, massages, foam rolling, and music are other ways to rest and recover, but I think a solid, relaxing massage treatment helps a lot, which is included in the program. I always say that the brain and human willpower are very complex - if something makes you feel good, it is likely that your performance will increase, not because it is the right way but because you believe in it. Our camp aims to create a balance between easy and challenging sessions. As triathletes, we balance our sports using cross-training effects without neglecting the added workload.