Giulio Molinari: an Ironman lifestyle

Giulio Molinari won the Challenge Riccione for the third consecutive time wearing the no. 1 bib, that of the winner of the previous year. The race is a stage in his personal journey towards the 2018 World Championships, and to be his best, he took some time from his normal routine to train at Technogym Village using MyCycling, the indoor cycling training system that revolutionized the sector thanks to TNT (Technogym Neuromuscular Training) that maximizes the quality of indoor training, making it as effective as on the road.

Wellness Ambassador

MyCycling is the result of a very close collaboration between Technogym's Medical Scientific Research and the experience of the best figures in cycling, such as sports trainers, coaches, physiologists and professionals. Among the latter, Molinari himself contributed to the creation of the product thanks to his feedback as a professional athlete and then champion and is now a Technogym Wellness Ambassador globally.

A sport that demands a lot, but returns a lot

If endurance sports enthusiasts are athletes who come to terms with their limits every day and try to overcome them, those who practice Ironman move the bar of will and resilience even higher if possible. Specifically, the goal is to win by defeating, in addition to opponents in the race, also a path that provides, in the case of Ironman 70.3, 1.9 km of swimming, 90 km by bike and 21.097 km of race, the latter in fact a half marathon.

European Champion

Molinari - who has been practicing triathlon for sixteen years and has achieved success since comparing himself to long distance races - knows those physical and mental thresholds very well, so much so that in 2016 he managed to win the Italian and European Half Ironman championship.

Engaged in light training with their colleague Federica De Nicola at the Technogym Village, the two athletes unveiled some little secrets to the Technogym Newsroom to better face the preparation for a challenging race like that on Sunday.

What is the lifestyle of a professional triathlete?
A triathlete's lifestyle is much simpler than one might think. You wake up, usually to normal working hours, as anyone does on a workday. Take time for breakfast and then start with the first workout which depends on whether the day is structured with one or two morning sessions, followed by lunch and a possible third workout in the afternoon.
Or a longer workout in the morning and a longer workout in the afternoon. The lifestyle is marked by training and meals, by integration but also by recovery which is the substantial difference between a professional and an amateur in my opinion. Everyone is capable of training but then it is the recovery phase that makes the difference, as you recover between one phase and another. Basically, it is as normal a life as possible.
How many hours of training does it take on average each week to compete at your level?
I was talking about it yesterday evening with Federica, during loading periods you arrive at roughly 30 hours a week.
Where the difference lies not so much in the performance of the training itself as in the recovery times.
G: Yes, in my opinion the difference is the recovery because if today I program a 6 hour training session, both for me and for her (De Nicola), and tomorrow I program a double running session, with what I do in the middle I can give quality or not to the next training session. With the same intensity as the first workout.

For example, if we do the same training but then I go to work and he goes to bed, it is obvious that he will be better tomorrow than me.

That's what the amateurs don't understand, that is that they would like to do what the professionals do but you can pull the rope a month and then you're presented the bill.

How much does each phase weigh in the chances of final success and preparation for each of them?
In my opinion swimming is where you can make less difference because it is the first part, but it is the one on which everyone spends more time in terms of training.

If you think that in the race you do 3800 meters in the Ironman there is nobody who swims 3800 meters or less, all swim more, several times a week. It's different on the bike because you can't do 180 km every day and in the race it's still different so it's three completely different activities. In my opinion the Triathlon is not the sum of swimming plus bike plus run, but when you train are three different preparations.

As structured training is completely different, but the race is not the summation, it is a unique sport. One of my coaches was always an example of when to sleep with a short blanket, if you shoot it on one side you discover it on the other, then you have to find with the trainer the right mix of preparations that are completely different for work, for short minutes.

So the physical component is essential, but how much does the mental component determine the preparation of the triathlete and the success in the race?
G: Fundamental. Look in the Ironman, I'm not exaggerating, half of the performance is the head because on 8 hours of race for a man and 9 hours/9 hours and a half for a woman the mental component is very high.
F: Yes, both to maintain concentration and to be able to face the obstacles you find during the race, because everything will never go smoothly, rather than also be able to face the crises that may exist. In my opinion, the head counts for a great deal.
G: The argument is that you have a plan in the race, when you start, as it can be for a Formula 1 driver who has to change the setting of his car at each curve, at least every 5 minutes you have a thing to do. On your bike you have a sip of water, sip of salts, gel feed, solid feed, keep the right distance from the front one to not take the label for drafts, so you have plenty of things to do.

There the ability is in endurance, effort, but also concentration in following the plan that you have, but you know that in 8 hours you have a crisis, two of them.

What does an athlete's head do when the moment of crisis comes?
In my opinion the past intervenes, that is everything you have built in training, the experience. You win the physical desire to get to the finish line and be able to say "it's over", but also, more broadly, the desire to achieve the goals for which you train every day, doing a thousand things, then get to your goal.
Another element of the preparation is nutrition, which is also important in the Technogym wellness pyramid. How much does good nutrition do to prepare for the race?
G: During the training you have to say that they are all things that you prepare in training, on the day of the race you don't have to and you can't invent anything. Try again and again until you find the right formula. The mistake an athlete can make is to skimp on what he eats, so if you eat little, you "eat" into your muscles and you don't get the performance in the race.

F: An athlete might think: I'm light so I'm going faster, it's not like that in Ironman because strength is more important than weight.

G: The other extreme mistake one can make is "consume a lot, I train a lot so I eat everything I see". The right mix has to be found, as in all things. Healthy eating, simple and quality foods and varying them.

How important are carbohydrates in your daily diet?
As important as protein is, the diet must be simple and balanced. We are Italian, we are lucky enough to have good food, we have everything from fruit to vegetables, proteins and carbohydrates. Then there are athletes who make "extreme" choices of being vegetarian, in which case you have to be followed by a person who is very prepared to replenish the protein. If you think that our race is a resistance to strength, which empties you of your energy, the protein supply is essential to get to the best.
How did you get to know a product like MYCYCLING?
I had the good fortune to be contacted by the area that was in charge of the product development and so I saw the birth of MYCYCLING, along with people much more qualified than me who worked behind it. I was able to give some feedback to arrive at the result. I was looking for a scientific instrument, able to give me real, constant and repeated data over time. An easy to carry, therefore versatile product which I could carry in the car. Then in the end as the trademark Technogym, came out a product that was also aesthetically beautiful, beautiful to see.

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