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Jodie Stimpson Shares the Sessions She Used in the Lead-up to Challenge Miami

Britain’s Jodie Stimpson secured her first win in five years with an emotional victory in Challenge Miami in March. With the Olympic dream on the backburner, the 32-year-old shares the sessions that have helped her make the switch to non-drafting racing.

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Every month we’ll talk to a pro with a big breakthrough performance, learn about their story, and then dive into what they did to get there. This month, members will get an exclusive look at two bike sessions from ITU world champion and recent Challenge Miami winner, Jodie Stimpson. We’ll share her workouts below and offer up commentary from the athlete herself on why these are important sessions and how she feels as she does them. With some modifications, these workouts can also be done at home as a part of a balanced training program.

“People ask me what I want to do after triathlon—and I just say I want to be the oldest finisher in Kona.”

When trying to find out how Jodie Stimpson defeated many of the world’s best non-drafting women triathletes to win Challenge Miami in March, four factors emerge.

The first is an unshakeable devotion to the sport: The Brit has a storied career in swim, bike, and run, but despite being a double Commonwealth champion in 2014, finishing second in the world the year before, and starting 2016 as the No 1 performer, it now seems unlikely she’ll ever go to an Olympic Games. 

Yet without a victory in five years, she’s never lost heart. “I suppose the bottom line is I love competing and I love triathlon,” Stimpson said. “I can’t see my life not containing triathlon. I want to have a successful 70.3 career. I’m a tri geek.” 

The second part is consistency. Despite only being 32, Stimpson started swimming at four years old and was competing in triathlon at eight. It means there have been plenty of hours on the endurance clock, but since 2016 in particular, injuries have crept in. “The past four years have been hard, but I know when I’ve been consistent I can race the best in the world and put on a performance—and I’ve been super consistent in training recently.”

As she showed in Miami, posting a race-best 63 min 53 sec split over 10.5 miles (that’s 6:05/mi. pace, by the way), running remains the strength. “I don’t need to do special stuff. If I’ve got my weekly long tempo, a speed session and hills, the running will speak for itself.”

The third piece of the puzzle is getting used to time-trialing after spending years racing on a road bike in the draft-legal packs of ITU races. Having finished 15th in the big money PTO Championship race at Challenge Daytona in December, due largely to her slower bike split, Stimpson realized more work was needed on her cycling position. While improvements were made by Miami, she believes there is still a long way to go.

“On a road bike, I can hold X watts and it’s quite easy, but I struggle on a TT bike—and I’m not even super aero. So, I’m trying to find the position to put out the watts I know my legs can do. I’m in the first year of learning, and need to be gradual with this, so I’m tinkering with things.”

The final element is perhaps the most important, and is an emotionally-charged one – this was a victory for dad. 

Stimpson was introduced to the sport by her late father, Ian, and the first anniversary of his passing came shortly before the Miami race. As was clear from her face at the finish, it made taking the tape extra special. 

“That emotion didn’t hit me until I hit the carpet and then it was a whirlwind. Dad would have loved this race. He was an F1 [motorsport] fan and he loved tri. Mum was at the race, but dad would have been rushing around giving me the splits–and would probably have covered more distance than me!

“A month before Miami, I didn’t think mum would come and see a triathlon again. Every holiday they had was following my races – it’s a family thing and always has been. It was awesome she came out as my plus one.

“The other thing I enjoyed was that feeling of being head-to-head in a race again—I love it. I had that battle and won. Everyone who does sport knows that feeling. And that’s what I’ve missed.”

Jodie Stimpson gets emotional as she crosses the finish line at Challenge North America. Photo: provided by Challenge North America

Stimpson’s Sessions for Non-Drafting Success

Session 1

Threshold Ride With Race-Pace Run
Total time: 3 hours

Warm-up ride: 75 min.

Main set 1: 50 min. (holding threshold heart-rate)

Recovery spin: 5 min.

Main set 2: 2 x 6 min. (90 sec recovery between sets)

Run: 10mins at half-Ironman race pace

Cooldown: Ride home

Jodie said: “This session is about getting comfortable on the aerobars for an extended time at race pace. I’m focusing on heart-rate and not worrying about watts because it’s about working on my aero position. The initial 50 minutes means I’m fatigued for the 2 x 6-minute efforts, but still have to hold my form. To replicate leaving T2, there’s no break before the 10-minute run at race pace. Coming from a short-course background I have to learn how to hold back here, going off at 5:50-6:00/mi. rather than 5:14/mi. pace.”

Stimpson makes her way to the finish line at Challenge Miami. Photo: provided by Challenge North America

Session 2

Hill Running to Perfect Form
Total time: 70 minutes

Warm-up: 2 mile jog + series of drills

Hill sprints: 5 x 20 sec.

Main set: 40 min. at tempo pace

Cooldown:  1 mile jog + stretches

Jodie said: “This is a run I do with my training partner Sophie Coldwell at a place called Beacon near Loughborough. It’s a hilly route so we don’t rely on pace, but heart rate. Hill running at tempo pace really helps my running form, and translates to running on the flat with good form. Hills are drills for me—they get everything firing correctly.”