We’re here with 3x Ironman Champion and multiple podium finisher, Luke Mckenzie. He is an absolute shark in the water, hammerhead on the bike, and pops off sub 3 marathons like it is his job. Well, it is his job, and you could say he's good at it.
JP: Luke, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. First, can you tell us when and how you got started in Triathlon?
LM: I was always interested in triathlon from a young age. I watched Ironman Australia in Forster, which was right near where I spent my childhood. My family and I volunteered on the aid stations from about 1988 – 1994 before we moved to the Gold Coast. The Gold Coast was Australia’s epicenter for triathlon in the 90’s and after 8 years of competitive swimming I decided I wanted to try triathlon. I did my first race in 1995 and did quiet well and made the switch from swimming to full time triathlon soon after.
JP: It seems like you are leaning towards Ironman racing at this point in your career, When did you make that transition and how do you find it compared to short course racing?
LM: Basically it’s just been natural progression. I began in the junior ranks in ’95 and raced sprint distance for 2 years before moving up to the Olympic distance in ’97. I made my first Australian Junior team in ’98 and raced at the ITU World Junior & U/23 Championships on four occasions. At that stage of my career I was targeted for Olympic teams for 2004 and 2008 but I realized at the end of 2003 that longer distance was my strength and ultimately my passion after growing up watching the Forster Ironman. In 2003 I made my first trip to the US to compete in Half Ironmans and non-drafting Olympic distance and found I was more competitive than I had been in ITU racing. After my second season in the USA I was looking for some races to do at the end of the year in Australia and they were having the inaugural Ironman Western Australia and it was a perfect introduction to Ironman racing. I finished 3rd in that race and loved the experience. Since then I have dedicated myself to the Ironman distance.
JP: It seems like your swim/bike combo has been your bread and butter, but your running is coming along strong. Are there any changes you have made this year that have lead to the improvement?
LM: Definitely. It’s been finding the right mix of training and also getting strong enough to swim and bike to the level I would like and still remain strong on the run.
In 2009 my run training was focused on more “quality” running over “quantity” and this seems to have help with some improvements in racing.
On the racing side I really concentrated on “pacing” and found I was having more in the tank towards the end of the marathon as opposed to falling in a heap and groveling home like I had been.
JP: What does a basic training week look like for you?
LM: Usually somewhere between 30-35hrs of training. I always try and have one rest day or at least a very easy day per week.
JP: What is the highest volume week you have ever done?
LM: Well I used to swim 60+ km weeks as a swimmer but I wouldn’t count that as a “triathlete”. I know I have put away a few 30km weeks over the past few years.
My biggest ever bike week would have been a few seasons ago in Oregon when I cracked 900km and running I have ran up to 140km.
My highest volume week of 2009 was in Oregon in the beginning of August where I swam 22km, rode 670km and ran 120km. That was in the beginning of my Kona build up.
JP: Shifting gears into 2010, could you tell us a few training goals?
LM: I definitely have some target sessions I really want to nail with my running. The run is where I have the most room for improvement at the World Championship level. In saying that I want to keep building my bike strength and hopefully in the years to come I can separate myself from the “pack” in Hawaii.
JP: With wins at so many races it must be hard to pick a favorite… but do it anyway.
LM: I love so many races for different reasons but if I was going to pick one race it would have to be the Hawaii Ironman. There is nothing better than racing our sports biggest race against the best in the world on a brutally hard course!
Other favorites would include St. Croix 70.3, Wildflower, Escape from Alcatraz & Noosa triathlon in Australia
JP: What are your target races for 2010?
LM: Ironman Malaysia, Ironman Switzerland and of course Hawaii!
JP: Alright time for the lightning round
Favorite place to train: Bend, Oregon
Favorite food: Ribs
Favorite Candy: Lindt chocolate
Gear you can’t live without: Coffee machine
Funniest triathlete you’ve met: My wetsuit sponsor and my sister Jacque’s boyfriend, Guy Crawford. Anyone who knows him knows he is hilarious and I love having him around. He does a lot of training with me and always keeps me entertained.
JP: How are things in terms of sponsorship for you?
LM: I am fortunate to have a really awesome team of sponsors. I can honestly say I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else right now! They are all producing what I believe are the best products in the triathlon market and have shown me such amazing support.
K-Swiss have been backing me for 2 years now and our relationship is more than I could have ever hoped for. They are like family and it’s been so much fun being part of their push into triathlon.
PowerBar are really supportive and I work with a lot of great people between both America and Australia.
The guys at Scott are a fun bunch and I love hanging out with them when I get a chance. The bikes are the best I have ever ridden and there are definitely some exciting things coming towards the end of 2010!
Other great companies I get to work with are Zipp, Sram, BlueSeventy, Nuun, Fuelbelt, Vision, Fi’zi:k, Smith and Computrainer.
JP: Thanks again for the time…but before we go, do you have any training tips for the age grouper out there, specifically for this time of year?
LM: Thanks for the chat. Some training tips I could share are: This is you’re opportunity to build a solid base of strength and fitness leading into the racing season. Pay attention to the small things like core strength, flexibility and nutrition. This is the time to plan your season and prepare your training accordingly.