Kevin Thornton : Looking for Performances in 2016 Ireland’s top middle distance triathlete Kevin Thornton, who lives and trains between Dublin and Wicklow, has had a quiet season so far – We caught up with him to get his thoughts on the weeks leading up to IRONMAN 70.3 Dublin and beyond.“I guess it has been a quiet season so far - I’ve only really had one race. I used to race a lot but maybe just ‘stay fit’ once the season began rather than improve – this year I am approaching it different, trying only to race when I feel ready to perform. It’s important for me to improve each year. I can’t stand the thought of stagnating and so by starting late, I feel I’m giving myself every chance of reaching those yearly goals. It’s only when I reach them do I decide to continue down this path I’m on. “The pre-season has been good, I’ve had some personal best sessions on the bike, in the pool and on the run so that bodes well for the races ahead but then training is one thing and racing another so it’s up to me to put the race together and give myself the best opportunity of getting that elusive first pro win”.“At the moment I’m training hard, trying to squeeze one last massive load of training before the race in Dublin 70.3. Long bikes, long runs peppered with some short fast stuff. I want to be as physically well prepared as possible and my coach Eanna McGrath is getting me there. I’m also enjoying the open water aspect of training that the summer brings. Coming from a swimming background, I love getting out and about in the sea and enjoying the variables that nature usually brings”“I train with the Base2Race Squad. 7 days, 30-35 hours. 5 sessions in each discipline. Our swimming is done in Shoreline Leisure and the National Aquatic Centre. For biking, I train around Dublin, Wicklow, Meath and Kildare with a dedicated indoor session in Base2Race using power. I get to run in the beautiful surrounds of the garden of Ireland and South County Dublin. I’m a physio too, so I know the importance of S&C (strength and conditioning), particularly given my injury history from 2013/2014 so I do that in the Kingfisher Leisure Clubs. Being a Galway man, I get back there regularly and when I do I’m training in the Kingfisher Club with Galway Triathlon Club and Tri Collinamuck”“Last year’s result at IRONMAN Dublin 70.3 (3rd Pro) was ground breaking for me. By claiming that final podium place I achieved a big goal. The results after the race last year were poor, so in essence my season peaked at 70.3 Dublin and I haven’t hit that height since. I want to rectify that and improve on last years effort. Perhaps with better mechanical luck, together with the tactical lessons learned from recent races… and of course the hard hours put in, I can move on up that finish podium”.“Naturally when there’s a race so close to home i'll do some training on the course as you should always use every advantage you can! Now that the bike course for 70.3 Dublin has been confirmed for example and because it’s a different route from last year, I can do some sessions on it so there are no surprises on race day”.“The swim is the same – in the cool open water around Dun Laoghaire. It’s simple enough, one big L shape, starting in Sandycove which I also use for Open water swims in the summer”. “The bike is a little different than before especially the section through Chapelizod – that comes after biking through the city along the quays which is very cool! The changes wouldn’t really alter my training but perhaps my thinking. You have to be aware of the long steady climb that now lies between Chapelizoid and the Strawberry beds. Higher cadence here and be mindful of the effect it will have on the legs later in the race. That may impact gear ratio too. The Strawberry beds will provide a challenge themselves as you’ll pick up speed here and need to be aware of the speed bumps. Those two sections aside, I’m experienced enough to deal with everything else… punctures included !“We wind our way to Kilcock – the roads are such that you could be out of sight out of mind before the run back to the Phoenix Park”“We train in the Park quite a lot – long runs and intervals too – set pace longer efforts – those really build my strength. Part trail, part road, part Deer! The three laps for the run course which will be fantastic for spectators and athletes alike once again and I'll know the ground which is great”.What would your top three pieces of advice be for first time athletes competing in IRONMAN 70.3 Dublin, both in the run up to a race and then during the week leading up to the race ?“Right now - It’s your final few weeks of hard miles. Keep the focus and keep the head strong in the mind. Be motivated that the end is nearly in sight but be mindful of getting something out of every last session between now and then.In the week of the race - the training is done. There’s no such thing as cramming the week of the race. It’s time to down tools and focus on food and rest. Eat right, sleep right and give yourself the best opportunity to have your body in the best condition you can”.How long would it normally take you to recover from a race distance like that ?“A week is usually my lot. It’s active recovery mind you but yeah it takes a week for the muscle soreness to subside and the cuts, scrapes and burns to heal up. Sea swimming, foam rolling, stretching and massage all help to promote and aid in recovery.So hopefully once the race is over and I recover, I'll plan ahead again and gear up for the next one - potentially IRONMAN Weymouth and 70.3 Austin – and hopefully The Lost Sheep”.