With three berths to the Olympics and three ITU World Championship medals, and a world title to his name, it’s safe to say Ivan Rana is one accomplished triathlete. This year he kicked it up another notch when he went long, finishing sixth at the coveted IRONMAN World Championships. We recently caught up with Raña to find out how his training is going now that he’s going for distance.
You had a foot injury in 2012 that affected your racing. How is that going?
“Yes, I had a stress fracture. I learned a lot with that experience. I was training hard and I didn´t want to stop, I wanted to make it to another Olympic Games. Now I know it is better to be healthy and take your time to recover. My foot is prefect now, no problems.”
You transitioned quite nicely from ITU racing to going longer. What were your expectations for yourself?
“I like the sport, no matter if is Olympic distance or long. At the moment, I´m focused on long. Kona is the race I would like to fight for. This year I finished sixth, so I really know I can be faster when I have more experience in this kind of race.”
You put up quite an impressive run at Kona, was that your race plan?
“Before the race I knew my run performance would be good, but I wanted a better performance on the bike. Like I said before, Kona is not about the physical condition. I´m happy with my result, it was more or less what I expected.”
What have you changed in your training to go longer?
“Mostly the bike training. I have to do more miles, faster. In the Olympic distance you can get a good performance with two hours of training. But when you go longer, that is not possible. You have to ride for 3-5 hours every day. The bike position is much different, in the TT bike your back suffers a lot, so the gym work is super important.”
You are one of the legends of the sport. How have you seen it change over the years?
“Fifteen years ago you could only find some good athletes that really completed in all the three sports. Now there are so many more guys who can swim, run and are cycling fast, too. The sport is growing up, not just the performance. There is more money, more government help, sponsors, and you can watch triathlon on TV or read about it in the newspaper. It is definitely more popular, which is the main factor to be a king sport.”
Apart from going longer, how have your races this year differed from ITU style racing?
“Last year I raced in San Diego and Huatulco, so I can compare really well what the differences are between long and short races. In short races, I think the people are younger, they travel with teams and federations. More people are around the athletes. The top guys in short are super fast and super professional, but after these guys there is a different status. I know a lot of very good, young athletes who have to survive with the help from their parents or federation, and his performance is still so high!! In longer races, it’s maybe a little bit easier to get some money. ITU race is a good academy to be a successful IRONMAN.”
When you were growing up, who inspired you in triathlon?
“I read a lot of magazines, I remember Simon Lessing, Luch Van Lierde, Rob Barel, Simon Whitfield, Robertson, Miles Stewart, Craig Walton, Sanson, Hellriegel, and more names I saw in races. With all of these guys I could compete. But there is another person who pushed me to do triathlon, my coach for many years, Cesar Varela.”
What is your favorite triathlon memory?
“I remember my first year being a junior on the national team. We did a lot of training camps together, both juniors and elites, and it was great fun. Winning the World Championship was also a great memory, as was the Sydney Olympics in 2000.”
Do you have any other stand-out memories from ITU races?
“I remember lot of good feelings with the triathletes and some parties. When you have to do a homestay it is also fun. The last races of the year are always better because they are more relaxed with less pressure and more fun.”
What is the best triathlon advice you’ve ever received?
“No matter where you are, you just have to use well what you have. Don´t think if the others have better facilities, It´s just about you and your effort.”