Braden Currie had over a year between racing to prepare both mentally and physically for IRONMAN New Zealand. In April 2021, he secured the win he's been attempting for the past five years. The preparation for this final attempt was like none he's had in the past. Braden Currie explains how the last year of lockdown contributed to win in Taupo.How did you maintain training motivation during the pandemic / lockdown to come back for such a strong win at NZ IRONMAN?
This year, on my fifth attempt to get that monkey off my back, I pulled off the race I’d been hoping for and the long battle in between times has made the victory all the more rewarding. What was different about this year? I asked myself the same question…
Pre-pandemic, IRONMAN New Zealand was always a difficult race for me to peak at. With the World Championships in Kona being at the end of the year, I’ve always needed to take a solid recovery block afterwards which made it challenging to get back to optimum race fitness by early March. I also always find it hard to say no to my local race Challenge Wanaka, which sits 2 weeks before IRONMAN NZ normally. This past year, however, I had no choice but to take 9 full months off racing. This set me up for a great summer of racing in NZ and I felt lucky to have had IRONMAN New Zealand to focus on as my pinnacle event at the end of the NZ summer. The Covid lockdown also gave me a few extra weeks of recovery and training after Challenge Wanaka, which worked out to be a bit of a gift.
When the date changed, my team and I decided that the most important thing was that I turned up in Taupo feeling refreshed and recovered. It’s been 4 years since I have arrived in Taupo feeling this way. This was a big lesson learned. I have always been an athlete that needs more time to recover and taper to feel good during race week. Rather than battling to come back to life, I will make sure this is part of my preparation from now on. I am grateful to have absorbed this lesson pre-Kona this year.How did PR Lotion play a role in helping with that?
Maintaining a high level of consistency in training is always something to aim for, and the circumstances since March 2020 have made this all the more achievable for me. I haven’t been doing huge volumes, but I’ve been consistent with quality run and bike sessions and that really showed up on race day where I was able to bring a really solid performance together across all three disciplines with ease.
Amp Human’s PR Lotion has been integral to my ability to push even harder during my key sessions and recover well in between. Back in the day, I’d simply tick off everything on my training program, but now that I have ‘quality or key sessions’ to work towards, I approach them with a heightened mindset and build into them differently; similar to how I would build into a race but on a micro scale. I’m more prepared for them and my goals push me to my limit.That is where the transformation occurs in training and why these sessions are so incredibly important. It’s a simple thing, but one that I do not think I was fully mindful of previously.What advice do you have for triathletes coming back to competition this year?
Slow and steady wins the race. The gains I have made have come from a steady, strategic plan that has allowed me to make small gains, but gains that I feel I won’t lose now. The gains are more permanent by nature, and include being able to produce IRONMAN power at a higher cadence and produce consistent high power across long intervals, which is what I need for IRONMAN.What will your preparation look like for Kona?
Moving forward, major events include the Collins Cup scheduled for the 31st of August 2021. I’m super excited to be ranked high enough in the world to solidify my position on the international team and be given the opportunity to race head-to-head with the world’s best. Thanks to the PTO for giving myself and other professional athletes this opportunity.
Then, shortly after the Collins Cup, the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona is set to go ahead. This still remains as my pinnacle event and will take all of my commitment to make it possible. Logistically, there is still a lot of unknown and it will be interesting to see how it unfolds. For now, having a performance I am proud of in Kona is the goal.
There’s a lot of work to do yet, and a lot of sacrifice to come. I expect I will need to spend three months away from my family this year due to the travel restrictions and quarantine requirements for Kiwi’s when they return to NZ. As a family we are prepared for this challenge and I accept that this is now part of racing on the world stage.