14 Feb 2020

IRONMAN VS SHORT DISTANCE TRIATHLON: DOUBLE INTERVIEW TO DEGASPERI AND POZZATTI

Triathlon events have continued to grow in popularity and already accrued a huge following over the years. Nowadays, there are different kind of races; from the sprints (like a 750-meter swim, a 20 km bike and a 5 km run), to Olympic, Half-Ironman and Ironman distances (3,8 km swim, a 180 km bike and a 5 km run). Preparing for an Ironman race or a short triathlon race requires a lot of effort and sacrifice, but it is always very rewarding once you reach that finish line.
But have you ever wondered how an Ironman is different from a short distance triathlon race?
We sat down with two of our Vision sponsored Pro athletes, the Ironman Alessandro Degasperi (2-times Kona IM finisher) and Gianluca Pozzatti (2019 triathlon Sprint Italian Champion) of Team 707, to discover the most important differences in terms of preparation, race approach, diet and many other curiosities.


How many races do you do on average in one season? 
Pozzatti: “I perform about 15/20 races per year, divided between Sprint, Olympic and Mixed Relay.
Degasperi: “I perform 4/5 important competitions and the same number for athletic preparation. Plus marathons and cycling races for training.”

Swimming, Cycling and Running: rank them on a scale of importance in a race for your discipline.
Pozzatti: “With the experience over the years I can say that surely running is the section that makes you reach the finish line first, but you have to swim and pedal strong enough to be able to be in front of the bunch in T2 (second transition) and fight for the win in running section.”
Degasperi: “Cycling, running and swimming.” 

What are the fundamental steps of your preparation at the beginning of a new season?
Pozzatti: “Over the latest years we have anticipated the start of the season more and more: in 2019 I started with the World Cup in Cape Town in mid-February. To try and compete so early it is very important to be able to spend a warm period where you can train more easily and also have a climate similar to what you will encounter in the race.”
Degasperi: “I try to do a good aerobic base and a lot of strength training.”

What does a typical training day look like for you? 
Pozzatti: “The daily schedule varies a lot, even if we have a basic weekly schedule that we try to keep all year round. Normally in the winter preparation period I train about 28 hours a week. Taking about the following volumes: 23 km of swim, 360 km on bike, 80 Km of running + 2 sessions in the gym a week.”
Degasperi: “When I'm at home I tend to swim either in the morning or in the evening, in order to use the hottest hours of the day for cycling and running. I am around 25h with about 20 / 25km of swimming, 200/250 km of bike and 70/80 km of running. In the training camps, vice versa, I try to dedicate myself in the morning to cycling, to swim in the warm hours, since you usually swim outdoors, and to run later in the afternoon. Generally, I exceed 30h with about 20 / 25km of swimming, 500km of bike and 60/70km of running."


What is your typical diet?
Pozzatti: “I usually eat bread and jam for breakfast, vegetable milk with cereals and a protein source, while breakfast before the race is very light to avoid stomach problems. For lunch, I eat a plate of pasta or rice (or other source of carbs) together with a protein source, while in the evening for dinner usually in addition to a nice bowl of vegetables I always add meat, or fish or vegetable protein, and if I’m still hungry, I have no restrictions that keep me from eating additional carbohydrates even at dinner.”
Degasperi: “The ‘diet of the iceberg salad’, in the sense that I don't eat it because I struggle to digest it! Seriously, I try to balance carbohydrates, proteins and fats in every meal, trying to avoid processed or too heavy foods as much as possible.”

What is the typical physical structure of an athlete in your discipline?
Pozzatti: “The typical structure of the triathlete is a long-limbed physique with a very low BF, even if over the years athletes have been seen on the various World Triathlon Series podiums characterized by extremely different physical structures.”
Degasperi: “In the Ironman, apart from a few exceptions (Frodeno and Lange at the two extremes), the physical structure is quite similar to mine: about 180cm x 70 / 75kg).”

What do short distances athletes think about an Ironman athlete and vice versa?
Pozzatti: “There is certainly the highest esteem for athletes who are able to complete a race as the Ironman. Often then the athlete of short distances switches to longer ones as his career progresses.”
Degasperi: Having also done (many) short races, my thought is: everything has its time...”

How many litres of water do you generally take during a race?
Pozzatti: “It depends on the climate in which we compete; it can go from a minimum of a few sips in temperate climate races, up to a maximum of 1.6l (MAX contained in two bottles) in the hottest races.”
Degasperi: “One year at Kona, I was able to drink 18 litres of liquid”.

As a percentage, how important do instinct and tactics count in your race?
Pozzatti: “Tactic is certainly an important component in short distance races, but instinct helps you a lot when race situations evolve suddenly and you have to make a split decision.”
Degasperi: “Tactics matter a lot, because in such a long race, the more you can do with what has been planned, the greater the guarantee of being able to reach the goal. Sometimes we must try to ignore what our instincts would tell us to do, because often these are choices that could ‘present the bill’ later in the race.”

What is the average age for a professional athlete in your discipline?
Pozzatti: “The average age of the top 50 in the World Triathlon Series 2019 circuit has been 27 years old.”
Degasperi: “From 30 years old. First it is better to take off a little satisfaction in shorter distances”.

ABOUT CYCLING TECHNICAL MATERIALS…
What kind of wheels do you usually use in your race? 
Pozzatti: “In the race I use the Vision Metron 55 SL.
Degasperi: “The choice of wheels depends on the race, but the optimal solution for me is the rear disc (or high profile when the disc is not recommended), and a high or medium profile on the front.”

What kind of handlebar do you use in your race? 
Pozzatti: “In routes characterized by high smoothness I mount the Vision Team Mini Clip-On on my handlebar.”
Degasperi: “On my time trial bike I use the Trimax Carbon SI 013; on the road, I mount the Metron 4D Flat M.A.S., which also has the possibility of mounting 2 types of dedicated appendages.”

How is the hydration system structured on your race bike?
Pozzatti: “I have two normal bottle cages, as the regulation does not allow anything else.”
Degasperi: “As a front bottle, I use the Vision DS1 directly on the appendices.”