Brian came to D3 last summer looking for some help with 70.3 Augusta and then Ironman AZ. Coach Mike could tell he was motivated and excited to be living in Boulder, and while Brian had his own ideas about training, Coach Mike could tell almost immediately there would be a few things he could fix quickly as his coach, but he needed to get some training data from Brian first. Brian has a demanding job so getting him to fill in his log or share his average heart rate wasn’t easy. About a week before IMAZ Mike asked him to submit a Race Plan – a mandatory request he asks all of his athletes to do – as it outlines the race execution plan along with some ideas in case things don’t go perfectly. It works wonders if you apply the same planning in training as you do during the race.

Brian wrote a basic plan for IM AZ, and he executed the plan he laid out fairly well. After his finish, Coach Mike realized he had Kona potential, and if he could eek out some data from Brian, they could boost his training in the right direction. Eventually, Mike was able to get him to wear his HRM, get fluid loss numbers and so on. Coach Mike noticed that Brian was a regular kitchen faucet, losing POUNDS on a normal run on the treadmill, in the dead of the winter. He needed some help and from there they brought in Nick Suffredin who has been helping Coach Mike figure things out over the last few years with D3 athletes. Nick has joined D3 in an official capacity this season and helped Brian (and other athletes) nail down their race day nutrition. Brian is a tireless worker and really hasn’t even come close to what’s possible!
Coach Mike says, “Brian’s run is his strength and he’s yet to translate that on Ironman day and have a great run. He’ll really be flying once he can nail that segment down, and I look forward to seeing him improve over the next few seasons. He deserves the Athlete of the Month, and of course, I’m very proud to coach him!”
Enjoy the Q&A with Brian Lambert!
1.  You‚Äôve been building your race resume with accomplishments and setbacks at Ironman AZ 2013, Boulder 70.3 and Buffalo Springs 70.3 (both in 2014).  Share your top things learned or gained at each of those races.
IM AZ was my 2nd IM and having learned a lot from my first IM, was ready to tackle it. AZ was my first big race since signing up with Coach Mike. The top thing I got from AZ was confidence. I didn’t have the greatest of days, but I improved over 2 hours from my first IM. I realized I still had a lot to work on, but my confidence grew from this race.bike photo
70.3 Boulder was the first race on the list for 2014. I had a pretty solid off-season and felt pretty fresh going into the season. From this race, I took away the fact that my fuel plan wasn’t where I needed it to be to continue to grow in the sport, but it was well improved on from IM AZ. I started to work with one of Mike’s great resources, Nick Suffredin, our Team D3 Race Day Nutritionist, just before this race and it was the first test for our fueling plan. Much improved, but more tweaks were needed.
70.3 Buffalo Springs was just 2 weeks after 70.3 Boulder, and I was eager to see how the fuel tweaks with Nick and Mike’s early season training plan would play. Super-hot and windy conditions, but I was able to start my run much faster and fresher off the bike. This was basically my first race where I actually felt like I was racing against other age groupers then just myself. I took away that I don’t need to be scared of tough conditions, and to hold back if you plan well.
2.  Share what lead to your decision to race IM Boulder.
Ironman Boulder was an easy decision for me when the announcement came out last year. I live in Boulder and train on the course daily. Plus, sleeping in your own bed and not having to travel and settle into an unfamiliar area seemed to be a good way to improve my chances of putting out a solid performance. Besides, Boulder is the endurance capital of the world and the crowds would be epic!
3.  As your training for IM Boulder progressed, what did you notice about your endurance and speed?
I grew the most in my short racing career during as my training progressed leading into Boulder. I believe having a few 70.3s under my belt, and a couple Ironman races to review with Coach Mike was extremely helpful in the lead-up. We were able to concentrate on some speed workouts and building up my endurance, but more time was spent on form and fuel. Though I still have to work on technique and form constantly, we were able to plug in some fast effort training sessions and more climbing on the bike. I think Mike started to believe I had enough race experience and technique that he started pushing me harder to see what I may be capable of. Our communication was growing pretty fast and I became a better note taker and communicator because of him; and that lead to the harder sessions, which lead to a huge improvement in my endurance and speed.
4.  As you were getting closer to IM Boulder, let‚Äôs say the week of the race, what did you think about, what goals were you setting for yourself?
About one week out from IM Boulder was the completion of my taper and the time for me to sit back and access how I felt physically and mentally from Mike’s training plan. I was feeling super relaxed. I typically get antsy and worked up during Ironman week, which may be due to the uncertainty of what I’m capable of, or whether or not my fuel plan is dialed in. For Boulder, though I had so much communication with Mike and a much more detailed race plan that I just felt I needed to execute it and I was going to put out a solid race. Everyone has question marks leading into an Ironman, and sometimes an athlete hopes things will go well or that they get some luck with weather conditions. I was just looking forward to pressing play on the race plan and had no worries about whether I was ready or not to take another step forward. It mainly had to do with the note taking and providing that information to Mike so he could further execute on his coaching. Prior to this, I don’t think I was giving Mike enough ammo to figure me out and really coach me to have a good race. I think because of this I felt super ready and confident I was at least going to take another step in the right direction. I didn’t really have fixed time goals or age group placement goals, but the number one goal was to nail the race plan and stick to it. Don’t abandon it on the course and let the training and the coaching do its job. Like I mentioned before, just hit play.
5.  Describe what was going through your mind at mile 20 of the run at IM Boulder?  Did you think you had a chance at a Kona slot?
Mile 20 on the run? Well, Coach Mike was at around mile 20-22 and I wasn‚Äôt having the run I thought I could execute. I know I had a great bike split, but was struggling on the run like a lot of other athletes were. To be honest seeing Mike ahead I almost wanted to hide because I thought I fell way back after coming off the bike in 5th. He told me I was in 7th and to get moving!! I was like, ‚ÄúOh, snap, this run course must be eating a lot of people up including me. I wasn‚Äôt really thinking Kona at mile 20, but I wanted to finish the run stronger than I started it and stay in the top 10. You just never know what’s going to happen in the last 10k of an Ironman, so I kept my head down and just did everything I could.
6.  Describe the Kona qualifying ceremony the day after the race and what you felt when they called your name for a Kona slot?
I knew I had a slim chance of squeezing into Kona at roll down, but I didn’t get my hopes too high. The guys that were in front of me kicked my butt and deserved to take the spots. A couple of guys already qualified so it worked out for me. I was a bit numb, to say the least when I got the last slot. Finally, some of the sacrifice and dedication paid off. I plan to go into Kona with a chip on my shoulder and run down some of the guys that finished ahead of me in Boulder.
7.  You are going to Kona, what are you hoping to achieve that day?
In Kona, I plan on continuing where I left off in Boulder and take another step forward in seeing what my body and mind is capable of. I haven’t really run great in my Ironman’s so I really want to have a great run. It’s a challenging course with the best competition in the world, and being competitive in my age group is important as well. I don’t want to disrespect the race and the sacred ground by not giving everything I have.
8.  Thinking through your training, what was the work-out(s) that you loved the most? 
I love the big ladder workouts in the pool. I like the long challenging workouts because they continue to build your confidence into an Ironman. 5-hour bike ride with IM effort sections followed by an hour run off the bike is a favorite. I like short steep hills versus gradual, graded climbs. Climbing up to Ward in Boulder is a favorite of mine.
9.  You travel quite a bit for work, how did you stay focused on your training goals?
Traveling for work and trying to put out solid Ironman performances is a tough task. Being very organized, googling pools, trails, and treadmills (winter time) is a constant. What’s that saying? “Keep your eye on the prize”. After IM AZ in 2013, I set my goal to qualify for Kona. You have to remind yourself more about those goals when you are on the road for work and to stay focused and get in the tough workouts in unfamiliar places, but it can be fun and new.
10.  What was your favorite pre & post workout meal?
Favorite pre-workout foods include fresh fruit, Cliff bar White chocolate macadamia nut bar, Jelly Bellies, and pretzels. I’ll eat some trail mixes too. I try to keep things simple as I have a pretty sensitive GI system. For post workout foods. I like spinach salads with either shrimp or salmon and I’ll add some type of nuts. More fresh fruit, but I load up on veggies more with some type of protein. I’ll do some quinoa pasta dishes too. I don’t do a lot of complex dishes and try to stay as clean as possible. I gobble up anything and everything, but I learned last year I operate better and recover better with simple dishes.
11.  If you could write a work out for your coach, what would you have him do?
A workout for Coach Mike? Does the athlete of the month actually get to make this happen? Ha ha! This patriots helmet is the easiest question. I’d set up his sweet new D3 TT bike in a 10 x 10 room with a heating lamp to get the temp to 90. Drop bottles of fuel and a bucket. Set up a flat screen in front and split the screen with ESPN’s “Brady 6” documentary playing and Kona 1989 muted. I’d ask for IM effort pace and set the clock for 199 minutes. 1 hour IM pace run to follow with 30 min of core. He’s probably already done this workout already, ha ha!
12.  What advice do you have for focused-on-getting-a-spot-to-Kona triathletes?
Advice to Kona spot seeking athletes? Everyone has strengths and weakness. Identify these and spend some extra time on the weaknesses, while maintaining your strengths. Seek out a nutritionist and figure out holes in your diet and fuel. If I did not improve on my diet and figure out I’m an off the charts heavy sweater, I would not be going to Kona and answering these questions. Start a workout journal (or log book) and record the big bricks and workouts along with your fuel. I use to not take notes or keep track of this stuff and not provide it to Coach Mike and my fueling expert Nick. Once I ramped up the communication and gave them the ammo to figure my weaknesses out they were able to make adjustments and help me improve at a greater rate. It will help you eliminate a lot of the question marks in your training and race prep. Finally, I’ll have to pull one of the “D’s” out and say desire. I truly believe my desire to compete in Kona helped me pull through all the tough training sessions. Some of the supernaturally talented age groupers can get their Kona slots with the “kind of – sort of – want to go to Kona’ mentality and get there on their lock tight GIs and average training plan. We normal folks have to want it more and be willing to sacrifice more and to pull through in training sessions and on race day.

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