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Q&A with Eneko Llanos
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Friday 11th October 2013


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With wins in the two biggest Ironman events of the season so far - the Asia Pacific Championships in Melbourne, and the Ironman European Championships in Frankfurt - Spain's Eneko Llanos is one of the favourites for victory in Kona this Saturday. Having finished second in 2008, can he make the top step of the podium?

Eneko Llanos infographic

Q&A with Eneko Llanos

What do you eat during your training and pre-race preparation?
I don't tend to change my nutrition much from training to before a race. Instead I try to eat what I usually do and just slightly increase my carbohydrate intake and keep my hydration levels high.

I'm actually a vegetarian, so my diet consists of a lot of vegetables, either in salads or cooked rice, oats, nuts, beans, soy derivate, bread, some fruit and almond milk. Occasionally I eat eggs and diary to keep my protein intake high.

Does being a vegetarian make it difficult for you when planning training and nutrition?
Not really, I've been a vegetarian now for 18 years and right now I am very used to it so it is not a big challenge to keep up good nutrition. If I can cook my own food it's not a problem. It's only more difficult sometimes when I am eating out in different countries and have to find something I like.  

What are your favourite pre and post-race meals?
Before a race, it would be oatmeal with nuts, a banana and almond milk. After a race, I love a pizza and a cold beer.

What Multipower (Eneko's nutrition sponsor) products will you use during Kona and how do they differ for the swim, bike and run?
On race day, I'll have ISO Drink and then just before the start, one shot of guarana which helps me through the swim. During the bike, it's a Multicarbo Jelly, Multicarbo Gel and a Multicarbo Boost+, which I also take during the run.  Afterwards, my recovery process starts immediately and so I take a Recharge Drink, magnesium and a 50% Protein Bar.

What are your top tips for Ironman training?
Patience and consistency are the key elements for Ironman training. It's important to have a clear plan for the season and also for the preparation before an Ironman, so you know what you have to do in any given time.

How many hours a week do you spend training and what distance do this add up to?
I train around 25 hours a week. Every day is different and sometimes I have three training sessions, others just one. A morning swim, midday bike and afternoon run would be my most ‘typical' day.

In total I'll cover 20-25km swimming, 380-400km cycling and 85-90km running each week.

Do you spend much time in the gym in addition to your outdoor training?
I do two or three sessions each week, usually about an hour per session, which are mostly spent doing general conditioning and injury prevention exercises.

How do you prepare for Kona in the final week before the race?
I take the last week of training very lightly, still doing some high intensity training but nothing too long or too tiring. I try to rest as much as I can during that week. Roughly I think that the volume of my training reduces by about 30-40% in that final week.

How do you cope with the high temperatures during Kona?
I try to start the race well hydrated, and then during it I consume as much fluids as I can. Specifically I take Multipower ISO drink and ISO+protein and probably drink a litre per hour to tackle fluid loss.

How is Kona different from other Ironman events and is it a special race for you? 
The pace is very high from the beginning because everybody is in their best shape and wants to get a good result. There is nowhere to relax during the whole race. Then the wind, the heat and the humidity make the race brutal with very tough conditions.
                                               
Kona is always a special race, for the history of the race itself and for the level of the competition. In 2008 when I finished second, I felt really happy. I suffered a lot on the run because of blisters in my feet but it was a great feeling to lead the race during the marathon and to finish behind only Craig Alexander.

Are the seas in the Kona race difficult for swimming?
The swim is in the Pacific Ocean which is quite salty and therefore buoyancy is good, but depending on the conditions on the day, the currents can be strong. The sea bottom is fantastic with great visibility and a lot of fish, turtles and even dolphins. On race day there is no time to stay enjoying this but it is a quite spectacular and unique swim. 

Are the bike and run courses particularly difficult?
The bike is not very hilly, but it is tough with the wind especially on the way up to Hawi, which is a long gradient hill where usually the wind blows very hard. The run is always quite fast, but the steepest hill, on the Palani road, is not the biggest issue because it is before the halfway point and the legs are still fresh.

What are your personal best timings at Kona?
For the 2.4 mile swim my best time is 50 minutes and 6 seconds. The 112 mile bike I have done in 4 hours 29 minutes and 26 seconds. And the run, which is 26.2 miles, I have completed in 2 hours, 47 minutes and 2 seconds.

What are your tactics in the race or is this secret?
I don´t actually have a clear tactic. I always want to be in the leading swim pack and then try to be in contact with the best cyclists during the ride, at very least not too far away from them after the full 180km. Then I hope to have the energy left to keep a good pace on the run and get to the finish line fast.

#GBKONA 2013 Coverage


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