The Spaniard is a two-time Olympian who was sixth in his Kona debut last year with the second fastest run split of 2:47.

The Spaniard is a tgree-time Olympian who was sixth in his Kona debut last year with the second fastest run split of 2:47. Although he’s a viable contender in 2014, he’s relatively unknown in the States compared to other men in the top 10. Here’s the quick debrief on Raña going into tomorrow’ race.

His start was in the ITU, where he had decent success. Three Olympic Games, taking fifth at both Sydney 2000 and Beijing 2008; ITU world champion in 2002 and silver in 2003 and 2004.

He gave professional cycling a try in 2009, racing for a Spanish team for a year. “When I started as a cyclist, the biggest stress for me was at the beginning of the season—I didn’t know how to move in the peloton, how to work with the rest of the team—it was a different sport,” Raña says. “It’s all about technique and skills. You’re going really fast with a big risk all the time. It’s quite different than triathlon. At the end of that season, in 2009, I felt like a different rider. I felt very comfortable in the peloton, I could stay in the breakaway, I could take corners, and I could work with the other teammates. And then the transition was difficult to go back to triathlon because something in your body changes—your legs, you have more muscles in the glutes and the quads so when you want to run fast, it was a big problem. I had to start to do more gym, more core, and a lot of complements to get the feet to run faster again. It took two years to run 30 minutes after biking 40K.”

He’s trained at Ironman-like volume for a long time. “It’s not about how you train but about your mentality. You like riding for a lot of hours, you have to do Ironman. I spent a lot of time training like an Ironman but racing Olympic distance, so I have had some bad races because my training was not good for Olympic, but it was good for Ironman. So my adaptation after ITU was fast, because I was training a lot.”

…but he still does short course races during Ironman training, including ITU World Triathlon London and Auckland this year.
“When you spend a lot of the time doing the same, then improving is very complicated. You need to stimulate your body. I see a lot of guys do the same who want to improve—it’s not good sometimes. I won the world championship in the Olympic distance, so for me to finish 30th in a race is not a good feeling sometimes. But you forget the result and what people think, you can enjoy it and get the benefits.”

He’s made his focus for 2014 making the front bike pack.
“I think the bike is the most important sport here in Hawaii for getting on the podium. Last year to now, I really focused on the bike performance. It’s the key in the Hawaii—you have to stay in the top on the bike. And even if you are in the top, you still have to run. Just 3, 4, 5 guys can do that—it’s very complicated.”

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