From UTMB Finals To Ironman World Championships: Lucy Bartholomew Discusses Training And Recovery

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Lucy Bartholomew, a 27-year-old Australian trail runner, has reached the epitome of trail running and triathlon in one season.

Lucy’s into the world of ultra running was not typical. When she was just 15 years old, she ran her first 100k trail race with her dad, finishing in 12 hours and 36 minutes. This was a defining moment in her career when she felt strong and would continue on professionally.

This year, Lucy has become just the sixth person and second woman to have ever completed Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) and Ironman World Championships in the same season. 

UTMB is considered the most prestigious trail running event in the world. The race begins in Chamonix, covering three countries in 171k and almost 10,000m of positive elevation. 

Not only did Lucy complete UTMB, but she also placed 10th among a stacked field of accomplished ultra runners. Lucy completed the grueling course in 27 hours, 39 minutes, and 23 seconds.

The Ironman World Championships, taking place in Kona, faces athletes with a 3.9k swim, 180.2k bike, and a marathon (42.2k) totaling 226.3k.

The events occurred within only six weeks of each other.

What Did Training For Two Different Major Events Look Like?

We got to chat with Lucy about how she balanced training and recovery when preparing for two of the biggest athletic events in the world.

Lucy began her build to UTMB in June, where she incorporated all three disciplines: swimming, cycling, and running.

She began really dialing in her training for UTMB at the beginning of August when she went for a training camp on the UTMB course with Salomon. The opportunity allowed Lucy to identify what she needed to focus on improving before the event.

“We covered the course over four days, and it really opened my eyes to what I needed to work on,” she said.

At this time, she reduced her time cycling and spent most of her training running in the mountains. She still found herself in the pool and used swimming as a form of active recovery.

From there, she spent the last few weeks before the race in the French Alps, where she did a lot of hiking with poles and downhill running. She used the time to get her nutrition on point since she knew it was a key factor in such long races.

Coming into the race, Lucy had increased her Base Fitness Score by nearly 100 points compared to when she began her build in June. Her Base Fitness Score went from 139 in June to 232 right before UTMB.

From UTMB Finals To Ironman World Championships: Lucy Bartholomew Discusses Training And Recovery 1

Balancing Recovery And Training

After UTMB, Lucy prioritized recovery, which she says was the perfect opportunity to get on the bike and in the pool. This cross-training helped her recovery but also doubled as Ironman training

Since her profession is trail running, UTMB was her main goal, so when it came to Ironman Training, she always erred on the side of caution. 

Lucy said she had to respect what her body went through during UTMB, and a niggle in her ankle forced her to rest an entire week, which she says, looking back, was a blessing in disguise.

“I wanted to get to the start line of Kona 1% undercooked, than 1% overcooked,” Lucy said on the importance of recovery.

Following her rest week, Lucy maintained easy effort for her initial four weeks of training, keeping her Intensity Trend Score low. Looking at her COROS training data, her Base Fitness never reached where it was for UTMB, as it remained below 210.

Reflecting On Her Experience And What’s Coming Next

Lucy said that what she learned most from this experience was the benefit of including other sports in her training.

The multi-sport training allowed her to feel healthier and well-rounded.

She relished the benefit that cycling allowed her to get in more volume without the impact on her joints. She found swimming meditative, keeping her in a positive mindset and therapeutic for her body.

“Whether I ever do another Ironman or not, I will definitely continue to keep this type of multisport training in.”

Her multisport approach is what allowed her to build such a high Base Fitness Score during her training for UTMB.

She was able to pack in more volume while avoiding injury and burnout.

The last few seasons have not been easy for Lucy, but she says this season has played out in the best way possible after these years of hardship.

The biggest challenge she said she faced was the amount of traveling. Lucy had to leave Australia for four months after committing to taking on these two big events. She said getting used to living out of a backpack and living in small spaces was the hardest thing for her this season.

Lucy is enjoying some well-deserved rest after her noteworthy season. Her next big race is in February, where she will go to Arizona to race Balck Canyon 100k

Her goal at this event is to punch her ticket to the Western States 100-mile race in June. To do this, she will need to place in the top three in Arizona, which she says will be a huge challenge but one she welcomes.

Despite being only 27 years old, Lucy has been in the sport for a long time. As an athlete that many young aspiring trail runners can look up to, we asked her what her parting advice to any young runner looking to get into ultra running would be.

Her answer: “Do it, try it, but do it for the right reasons. Ensure you understand that ultra running is an extreme sport and can have extreme effects on the body, so be smart about it, be willing to learn, and build up slowly. You don’t have to ultra-run. Going fast and short is cool, too.”

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Jessy has been active her whole life, competing in cross-country, track running, and soccer throughout her undergrad. She pivoted to road cycling after completing her Bachelor of Kinesiology with Nutrition from Acadia University. Jessy is currently a professional road cyclist living and training in Spain.

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