Flora Duffy, the current World Triathlon Series World Champion had a tremendous season last year. Coming into 2017 she was plagued with injury, pushing her to start the season late. But when she lined up for her first WTS race at Yokohama she was apparently more than ready. Not only did she win, but she posted the largest margin of victory in WTS history (1:51) for men or women.
We talked to Flora about the work she did in the offseason, rehab, and how it feels to be a World Champion, because her prep clearly paid off.
How did the injury effect your training?
It was a rough start to the year. The injury which meant I had to back off training in all three- swim, bike and run. I could build back the swimming and riding pretty quickly but could not run for a while. I had a stress reaction in my hip, so running was a complete no go for a while! It was not ideal but all part of being a professional athlete I suppose.
Since you had to back off training, how did you adjust the training to make sure you could be ready for your first race back at Yokohama with potentially less training load?
I was not able to run for most of February and March, which allowed me to focus more on my riding. My coach Neal, put me through a big riding block in which I did a lot of big sessions- a mix of threshold and vo2 work. One workout in particular which left a mark was: 10mins, 8mins, 6mins, 4mins, 2mins X 2. It was a big one! The power increased as the intervals got shorter.
I rely heavily on my power meter when training- I never leave for a ride without it.
Were you seeing the power numbers you expected by the time you lined up for the race?
Yeah, I was. The nice thing about not running in February and March is my cycling improved a lot! It is amazing how much better your legs feel when you don't have to run 70kms a week. It took my cycling up to another level, which I was able to maintain once I added back in the running.
As your first race back, what was the expectation going into Yokohama?
The main goal was to see where exactly my form was at. I was surprised to finish nearly two minutes ahead of second place.
How was the pressure on race day? I have to image it would be a bit different than usual with you coming off injury, but also being the World Champion.
I was nervous because I was coming back from injury, had not raced and I am the reigning world champion. It is a lot to manage- and a new space for me. An exciting place to be as the world champion but with it brings new levels of expectation and pressure.
For you, when do you really focus on your power numbers during the race?
At Yokohama the conditions really influenced the race- the rain and slick roads naturally created big gaps.
A key power moment in the race is always the first lap of the bike. Everyone is tired exiting the swim and jumping onto the bike, so to be able to hold a high power for the first few kms of the bike really splits the race up. It is something I always try to do.
You won by the largest margin ever in WTS history, for both men and women. Was there any key moments in the race when you knew it was yours?
If there is one thing I have learnt through racing- is to never assume the race is yours too early. Having said that on the last lap of the run, I felt good and knew I had a big gap so I did let the joy of winning enter my mind.
Now that you're back, what are your goals for the rest of the season?
The focus for the rest of the season will be to race the rest of the World Triathlon Series and do my best to defend my title. After that my focus will switch to the Xterra World Championships.
How was racing Boulder, Colorado's local Koppenberg Race?
It was awesome! It is my favorite race around here so I always try to do it if I am in town. I broke away with my training partner Dani after two laps and we basically did a two up time trial for the rest of the race. Lots of fun and great training.