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Australian pro Tim Reed scored an important victory at last month’s Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship in Auckland, following a triumphant 2014 and setting the stage for a successful 2015 season ahead. I caught up with the 29-year-old to learn about his triathlon training and racing philosophy, as well his life outside the sport with wife Monica and son Oscar, age two and a half.
Triathlete.com: Congratulations on your recent win at the Ironman 70.3 Asia-Pacific Championship. That’s a fantastic result, and it follows on the heels of an especially impressive 2014 season, highlighted by a trio of half-distance victories [Ironman 70.3 Vineman, Challenge Gold Coast and Ironman 70.3 Buffalo Springs] and third at Challenge Bahrain. In fact, you have quite a collection of wins and podium finishes since turning pro in 2010. The bottom line is, you’ve been fairly consistently on fire! What are a few key factors that you attribute to your sustained success?
TR: Thank you! Auckland is such a special race. When I heard it was the final year of the event I was deeply determined to experience the winning atmosphere at the finish line and am so grateful the body agreed to cooperate with that desire. I particularly appreciate the “sustained” success part of your question. It’s easy to feel like you’re only as good as your last race in this game. I think that the consistent reasonable results are largely due to time in the sport and the accumulation of consistent training. I’m a big believer in consistency over craziness when it comes to my weekly workouts. I’m now in my fifth year as a pro and 10th year in endurance sports, so with the help of my coach Matt Dixon from Purplepatch Fitness we’re continually refining and implementing what training works well for me without compromising the other more important aspects of my life. On top of the above, I think you have to plenty of “mongrel” when racing. I’ve always loved competition and don’t mind a little wander down pain lane.
Triathlete.com: On your website, you mention the “power of the present.” Exactly what do you mean by this and why is it important?
TR: I’ve had a lot do with Grant Giles from Aeromaxteam over the years, initially in a coach/athlete relationship. He’s the Mark Allen of the Aussie tri world and taught me the importance of mindset and finding a neutral focus during racing and training. It’s hard to explain in a paragraph but in short, if you can gain control over your your mind when racing it can be a really powerful weapon.
Triathlete.com: As a coach, you stress the importance of life balance and efficiency or quality vs. quantity in training. I’m curious how many hours per week you average in each discipline–let’s say during a build to a key half iron-distance race?
TR: I feel fortunate that I seem to race best off approximately 20 total hours of training a week. I’m not really in a position nor have the personality to lie on the couch too much between sessions (although I’m working on changing that) so perhaps I could do better with more hours if I was resting more, but 20 hours seems to be the sweet spot right now. The breakdown would be something like:
Swim: 4-6 hours
Ride: 8-12 hours
Run: 4-7 hours
In addition to Matt Dixon I get some brilliant advice from Dan Plews, a PhD physiologist out of New Zealand. Dan, Matt and myself are all pretty much on the same page in the view that 25 hours, if including plenty of quality, should be the upper end of weekly volume. Any more and it ruins the quality of key sessions. However a decade of coaching has also taught me that there are exceptions to every rule.
Triathlete.com: In terms of the life balance piece, what do you enjoy doing most when spending time with your family?
TR: We live on the most Eastern point of Australia, Byron Bay, which provides some of the best beaches in the world. You can find the Reed clan hanging at the beach at least once per week, every week of the year when I’m home.
Triathlete.com: Similar to Mirinda Carfrae you’re a former basketball player, both of you eventually turning to triathlon, a sport better suited to your height. Also similar to Rinny, you’ve had an incredibly successful string of half iron-distance results. Do you aim to follow in her footsteps and someday make the ultimate long-course conquest in Kona?
TR: As Mirinda likely experienced, being a short arse in basketball sucks, as does being one of the smaller guys on the Rugby field. You can have all the fitness and skills in the world (which I didn’t, but let’s pretend I did) but some overgrown human is going to progress further in those sports. A major factor in why I was drawn to triathlon was body size seemed not to matter. You had guys like Greg Welch and Simon Lessing dominating the sport, but Simon was twice the size of Greg. Of course I would love to follow in Mirinda’s footsteps in Kona, but they’re some pretty big footsteps to follow. It’s a significant risk while with a young family, as I think moving to Ironman racing involves a fairly big pay cut unless you’re winning most that you enter. But as long as it doesn’t negatively affect the family, in the very near future I’ll be changing the way I train, scheduling my season very differently and throwing all the eggs in the Kona basket.
Triathlete.com: In addition to your athletic talents, your signature Budgy Smuggler race briefs certainly set you apart on the racecourse. Is there a purpose behind this particular fashion statement?
TR: I’de be lying if there isn’t a subtle marketing strategy in play, however the overwhelming factor is that I’ve never liked tri shorts. I don’t mind tri suits but tri shorts always give me a lot of chafe during the run. Ironically, Budgy Smugglers do not. Additionally, they’re not just a company that makes very cool swimwear. They really have a social conscience and do a lot of great fundraising for AIME (Aboriginal Indigenous Mentoring Experience).
Triathlete.com: Although you certainly race in the States a fair amount and train here part-time, we don’t know you as well as we should. What are a few fun facts about Tim Reed that you’d like to share with our readers?
TR: I really want to be a multiple world champion so I have the money to fund an unsuccessful music career.
I spent a large chunk of my childhood growing up on a small island east of Australia and went eight months straight without wearing shoes.
Apparently my unborn son (Monica is 21 weeks pregnant) is predicted to be taller than me by age eight.
After my music career fails I’m going to be a mildly successful free-range chicken farmer.
Triathlete.com: What are the key races on your schedule for 2015?
TR: I wish I knew! Sorry, I’m still working out whether to focus on the Challenge Triple Crown and Ironman 70.3 World Championships or go down the Kona route properly. I’ll update my website soon when I know.