"Leeds Will be Like a Home Race" Russell White

Russell White Baku

Eilte triathlete Russell White will line out alongside countryman Ben Shaw in the men's race at World Triathlon Leeds this weekend, aiming to put in a big performance in front of what will almost feel like a home-crowd.

Ahead of what could well be the most exciting race of the season, we spoke to Russell about his recent altitude training camp in the French Pyrenees with Aileen Reid and Bryan Keane and about his plans for the rest of the season.

Q: You've just returned from Font Romeu, how long were you at altitude ?

It was about three weeks, the first weekend I ended up heading down to sea level and doing a french grand prix race in Dunkirk which was a bit unorthodox but the  first week there was really about acclamatising, so dropping down for the race meant I got a good hit-out at sea level. On the second week I was able to hit the ground running and get a good training block done.

Q: What's it like training at altitude?

It's tough! Easy things become that much harder, for example even easy runs can be a struggle and any time you go up-hill the heart rate kicks up. I found at first I was loosing a lot of weight so I was constantly eating and drinking, but it was good being in the French altitude centre where we were based, you can just focus on training and nothing else.

Q: What kind of training did you guys do on the camp?

The majority of the days were swim, bike and run. The first week was very aerobic and anything hard was short efforts. I found the swimming took the biggest toll, my swim times were down, anything over 300m in distance was hell. Everything was slower and you felt sluggish, even normal breathing rythmn was hard.

Most weeks on the bike we would do two long rides, one short sprint effort a day of hill reps. We had one or two days off the bike in the week and everything else was easy riding, although nothing was easy because you had to climb 6km up to the training centre, so with every ride the only way was up!

Bryan, Russel, Aileen Font Romeu

Q: How do you feel now?

I feel good but that was my first time training at altitude and everyone reacts differently afterwards so it's a bit of an unknown. My form has been good, in the races so far this season I probably haven't been completely happy with a full race yet but every race has had good parts to it and it's all about putting it together now.

Q: World Triathlon Leeds looks like it will be a massive event, with the Brownlee brothers lined up and thousands expected to watch live, how do you think it's going to play out?

It's a smaller field that the usual World Series races with people taking rests after olympic qualification so that's good for a start. There are lots of strong swimmers in the field and I am due to be on the pontoon between Alastair Brownlee who is number 33 and Javier Gomez who is number 36 so I am in a Gomez-Brownlee sandwich! 

It's all about the swim, this course is made for the Brownlees. I think with the calibre of swimmers there, there will be a breakaway and with the technical bike course, it could stay away.

Q: You're in Leeds already, what's the atmosphere like?

It's great, the race is right in the city centre, there's a massive two sided grand stands at T2 and all of Leeds is plastered with posters of Alastair, Johnny and Non (Stanford). They've done the roads and everything.

Q: What's the biggest race you've done in the past and does having a big crowd help you on race day?

The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow was the biggest atmosphere I raced in, it was scorcher of a day and there were tons of people there that I knew so that was almost like a home race. When you're on the circuit doing smaller European races, you do notice the difference when you get to World Series events. It lifts you, when you come through transition and hear the roar of the crowd. It is a massive boost having your family there and you can pick out people in the crowd

Russell White Bike

Q: What's next for you this season?

I'll be heading to Florida to train with Aileen and Bryan before Rio and when they head on I will probably stay stateside and race in the Edmonton World Series. I want to fit in some domestic races but with this being an Olympic year I am using the year as an opportunity to boost my world ranking, I would love to be doing as many domestic races as possible but I have to take the opportunity of moving up the ranking ladder by racing as much as I can.

Q: You must already be thinking about the next Olympic cycle?

Yes, training with Aileen and Bryan, when you're with them and you know you're not the one going to the Olympics, it gives you the drive that in four years time you want to be the one going and not be the training partner. It's been a big boost and an eye opener about what I want to be doing in four years time.