After a successful 2014, Australia’s Brendan Davies will start his 2015 season this weekend with Transgrancanaria. In our first interview with him, Brendan talks about what he’s been up to since placing 12th at the IAU 100k World Championships in November, what his training looks like, how he sees this weekend’s race playing out, and what his strengths are.
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Brendan Davies Pre-2015 Transgrancanaria Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Brendan Davies before the 2015 The North Face Transgrancanaria. How are you, Brendan?
Brendan Davies: Great, Bryon.
iRunFar: Here we are. You’re coming from summer, so you’re one of those people who is oddly prepared for the heat and the distance this time of year.
Davies: Yeah, I try to take every advantage I can get. Yeah, it’s been a hot summer down in Australia like always. Yeah, I’m acclimatized to the heat, that’s for sure. It’s a bit different than when I went over to Western States last year. I had to do some pretty funny things during our winter down there to get acclimatized.
iRunFar: Like what? How did you get ready last year?
Davies: Oh, I laid back in my thermals and turned all the heaters on in my shed and did that kind of hot-room work. I didn’t have to do it this time.
iRunFar: It feels nice and cool.
iRunFar: You had a long season last year with a lot of great performances—Western States, IAU, TNF Australia as well. Were you tired at the end of that stretch?
Davies: Absolutely. Then I thought I’d do something silly in Australia and do a 240k road race just to finish the year off. I really found my limits towards the end of the year. So, I had a bit of a break at Christmas and really got started into training about mid-January again.
iRunFar: So you did manage to get a break. Sometimes it’s hard when it’s summer down there. But I guess for you guys it might be a little easier because it’s really darn hot.
Davies: Yeah, a little earlier I started training than I normally would. It’s brought everything forward a little bit which I think is positive. I’ll be a little bit more conditioned for Western States, I think, and I’ll have a few more long runs under my belt.
iRunFar: Have you done any racing ahead of Transgrancanaria this year?
Davies: No, I haven’t had a race yet his year. This will be my first one, so I’m looking forward to getting the ball rolling.
iRunFar: It’s a little hard to gauge one’s fitness before you actually race, but how do you feel coming into this?
Davies: I feel really good. I’ve done a lot of more specific training for this event, obviously with the amount of elevation in it. So I’ve been doing a lot of vert and a lot of kilometers consistently and a lot of easy kilometers as well. I’m trying to keep my body fresh at the same time. It’s been a good consistent lead up, so I’m looking forward to getting stuck in it.
iRunFar: Good. You end up racing a lot around the world. How do you make that happen? How do you choose where you’re going to go?
Davies: I’m very fortunate that UTWT got behind me and invite me to an event each year. Also with traveling to America, it’s just something you have to make happen. It’s such a brilliant race, Western States. This year I’ve taken leave from my day job as a teacher as well. I’m coaching now, so it does give me a little bit more flexibility as far as my travel time goes. I don’t have to stick to school holidays anymore. I can actually travel outside of school holidays.
iRunFar: What brought you here to Transgrancanaria this year?
Davies: It’s a good question. I was looking to do Tarawera again. Unfortunately I had something else booked that weekend. Gran Canaria has always been one that’s fascinated me. My parents actually met in the Canary Islands. It’s like retracing my heritage a little bit. That was just purely… my mom was working here and my dad was on holidays. I thought, Yeah, it’s a great place to come, and I’ve heard many great things about the race.
iRunFar: Here you are.
iRunFar: You say you’ve put in a lot of kilometers before the race. What does your typical training week look for you three or four weeks ago?
Davies: I’ve been averaging well over 100-mile weeks. Saying that, at least half of those are with climbs or with people I coach or long runs at easy pace. It’s still been racking up the kilometers, but only half of that has been my own training. It is good in one regard—the easier kilometers have kept me fresh I think.
iRunFar: Sort of forced recovery or easy runs.
Davies: Yeah, recovery runs, but still clicking over the kilometers as well.
iRunFar: Do you do a certain long run? How long do you run in training ever?
Davies: I think my longest run leading up to this has been 50k, so not particularly long, but I did that kind of purposely because it’s going to be a long season again. These kind of runs or races make up your long runs for the other ones. Yeah, I’ve kind of tried to keep myself quite fresh for this one.
iRunFar: Do you do any intensity—structured speedwork, tempo, steady-state runs?
Davies: Definitely. My training-structure elements always consist of long runs, tempo runs, and speed sessions at the track with hill work as well. I do phase my training somewhat. In the last month or so I’ve been a lot more focused on hill and speedwork trying to get a little…
iRunFar: It’s a fast race… maybe not.
Davies: Well, on the downhills it will be.
iRunFar: It’s an interesting race in that regard because the first seven or eight hours, there’s a ton of climbing and it’s dark. Then you’re coming downhill but it gets hot and it’s somewhat technical. You’ve got to have your legs.
Davies: Yeah, you don’t want to have fatigued legs coming down those mountains, that’s for sure. It’s going to be a real strategic race. If you kind of give yourself a little easier start, I think it’s going to be better for you in the end. I think looking at Ryan [Sandes’s] race last year how he kind of worked through the field as the day kind of went to morning, I think that’s kind of what I’m going to try and replicate.
iRunFar: You’ll try to run a measured race keying off yourself rather than trying to hang with anyone in particular.
Davies: It’s definitely the way to race, I think.
iRunFar: Did you employ that with some success last year at Western States?
Davies: Moreso at UTMF. Western States was my type of race, so it was a race that I was going to throw out a little more of a challenge or be a little more of a risk taker at Western States. You can run fast, and I’m good at that. The climbing races I’m always a little more circumspect. I tend to hold back a little bit and stay under my red zone. When I feel comfortable, I’ll push on.
iRunFar: So this kind of a race is a little more of a challenge or outside of your sweet spot?
iRunFar: You ran Western States really well, but you also ran very well at IAU 100k.
Davies: Yeah, my strengths are the flatter… not that Western States is flat by any means, but…
iRunFar: For a trail ultra in the mountains, it’s a little quicker than most.
iRunFar: At IAU 100k, you were under seven hours—6:55-ish?
Davies: Yeah, I scraped in in 12th in 6:56.
iRunFar: Well, you had a great year last year, Brendan. Best of luck to you this year.
Davies: Thanks very much, Bryon.