TriathlonWorld : European elite triathletes are preparing for a season that starts in May and ends in September/ October. Australian athletes seem to have two seasons per year. Could you please explain how is the situation and how the existence of two racing seasons per year changes your training schedule? Australians athletes are lucky because of that or it is harder for them?
Greg Bennett : When I was younger I did race double seasons. I would race 5-8 times a year in Australia and then race internationally for another 7-10 times. Usually my season would start to slow down around the end of August and I would take a break throughout September. Then start building for the Australian season once again. These days I need a much longer time to build my base. The Australian racing scene is not like it was in the 90’s so I can afford to not worry about racing down under as much.
TriathlonWorld : You travel for training and racing all over the world. Do you feel that there is a different sport culture between Australia, USA and Europe? What are the main characteristics of these sport cultures?
Greg Bennett : Triathlon the world over, is made up of people that are passionate, disciplined and determined to get the most out of life. It is the people around the world involved with Triathlon that make the sport so addictive. The culture between countries does vary a little. In Europe there is a much stronger club/ team system in place, in the USA there seems to be a very strong age-group presence. Australia is trying to find itself again. During the 1990’s Australia was the world leader for professional events and successful athletes. Over the last decade that has slipped a little. There are still successful athletes but the amount of exposure in the media has really reduced.
TriathlonWorld : I have read your triathlon training book and I have found many issues that I would like to clarify. You were mentioning that you have started swimming very lately in your life and for that reason you were never missing a swimming session. Triathletes usually believe that if you weren’t a competitive swimmer you can’t compete in worldwide triathlon – high level- events. Could you please tell us when did you start your serious involvement with swimming? How many days per week you were training, how many km, alone or with a group e.t.c. You were a real talent or it is possible for anyone to do what you did?
Greg Bennett : You were the one that read that book! I read that now, almost 15 years later and I am a little embaressed. I started swimming seriously at the same time I started Triathlon. I was 15 in 1987. Once I started to see a little success in the sport I realized I needed to work on my swimming more. By 1992-1994 I started swimming many double days. 5k squad in the morning and an ocean swim in the afternoon. I’d do this 3-4 days a week. The other days I would just swim once in the ocean. I am not a natural swimmer. I am not pretty to watch. I get as fit as I can and turn my arms over as fast as I can. I love the ocean and I love to race. the combination of these two has had me swim towards the front end of the race fairly often. To swim well I still must swim everyday!
Triathlon World : At your book you are mentioning that the best warm up for a race is to warm up for the three events. Do you still believe that ? What is the ideal warm up for an Olympic Distance triathlon?
Greg Bennett : I tend to warm up with the bike first, before I rack the bike in transition. 10-15 mins with a few short pick-ups. I then run for 10mins and finish with the swim just before the race starts. I like to do all three for warm up.
Triathlon World : What are your memories from Athens Olympic Games?
Greg Bennett : I have the fondest memories of the Athens Olympic Games. Walking into the opening ceremony… the Greek crowd were in full vocal… the noise was defining. It was at that moment I realised how special it is to be an Olympian, to be a part of the “Big Show”. Still to this day I believe the Athens Olympic Triathlon course to be on par with the Sydney course for beauty but surpasses any other ITU event I have ever raced in the past 20 years for its challenging and yet very rewarding course. I wish we would go back to Athens every year for the World Championship series.
TriathlonWorld : I consider your book when of the best ever written for triathletes as it focus in practical issues. It seems to me that you develop your own training system. Do you plan to continue your career in Triathlon as a coach? Do you plan to write another book?
Greg Bennett : Right now, both Laura and I are very focussed on preparing for London Olympics and earning that elusive Gold medal. Our focus is to both make the USA Olympic team (Yes, I have switched countries to be with my wife). I have a number of plans in place and yes, coaching is a strong possibility. On the last few years I have sat down and written a couple of chapters of a book. I have done this for personal recapping more than anything, but who knows maybe I will put it all together once I’m done.
Triathlon World : At your email you were mentioning that “We are in hard training at the moment in Australia”. Could you please describe a typical week for this hard training period. Triathletes all around the world love to read the training schedules of elite athletes.
Greg Bennett : We come to Noosa, Australia each year for our conditioning training. This year we started our conditioning towards the end of November. We have now put in place about 16 weeks of work. It allows us to build slowly our volume and our intensity. As we now get closer to race season we adjust our training slightly to increase the race specific work. Laura and I are not over trainers. We have periods when we will push a little harder and other periods when we are doing very light work.
Triathlon World : What are you doing in terms of recovery?
Greg Bennett : We work very hard on nutrition. We make sure we Eat to Train and not Train to Eat. We have our MVP Normatec compression boots for post hard workouts. We would get between 2-3 massages a week and try to see our chiropractor at least once a week.
Triathlon World : What is the difference in terms of preparation between a drafting and non – drafting races?
Greg Bennett : Draft legal events require more focus to the swim and the non drafting requires more focus to the Time Trial on the bike. Both take the same approach on the run.
Triathlon World : Is it possible to be competitive at both formats or you need to specialize?
Greg Bennett : I believe to dominate in any one area these days you must specialize on one or the other. In saying that, in order to be a successful as a professional athlete you may need to branch off throughout a season to vary your events for income.
Triathlon World : What are your plans for 2011?
Greg Bennett : The first half of the year will be focussed largely on the World Series with a focus on the USA Olympic trials at the London WCS event in August. Post this event I’ll be racing almost every weekend throughout September and into October. The second half of the year will be largely USA events.