03 Nov 2015
Daniela Ryf “I still don’t believe that I’ve reached my maximum”
Exclusive interview with Daniela Ryf, the 2015 Ironman World Champion
On the 10th of October this year, I settled on the sofa to watch the Ironman World Championships 2015, broadcast live from Kona, Hawaii. Just watching the event can be something of an endurance event in itself, given that competitors can be racing for up to 17 hours, and some may not even finish in that time.
In the first in the series of exclusive interviews with professional triathletes, I’m honoured to be talking to Daniela Ryf, the Swiss triathlete who finished first in the women’s category, crossing the line in 8 hrs 57 min and 57 seconds, becoming the 2015 Ironman World Champion!
How old were you when you did your first triathlon?
I was 14 years old. It was a kids triathlon at my home town.
When you are preparing for a big event, how many hours a week do you spend training and what is the ratio of your training is swimming/biking/running?
I’m always training. During the year I might have 2-4 weeks of holidays, where I only train twice a day, very easy.
Most of the days I have 3 sessions per day; this can be 3×1 hour runs, or up to 5 hours on the bike with a 6k swim and little run. I run about 11times per week, swim about 6x per week and bike 4-7x per week.
Will you be representing Switzerland again in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio?
No. I’m concentrating on Ironman racing.
You crossed the finish line in just under nine hours. What do you think about whilst you’re racing, or do you keep your mind focussed on the race?
I often focus on what I have to eat and drink, and at what time. So this keeps the head a bit busy, then I try to break up the course in my head to only have to think step by step. Also I have some songs in my head, which help me to keep my mind busy.
Are you influenced by the speed of the other athletes around you, or do you try and keep to your own pace?
In Ironman racing it is quite important to focus on yourself. Of course you get influenced a little by the others, but I try to do my plan and execute it how my coach tells me to.
What did you do to celebrate after winning the Ironman World Championship 2015 in Kona?
I had some nice dinner with my support team after the race and then we went to the finish line to support the athletes, who were racing for 17 hours.
You are a world champion triathlete. Where do you go from here?
My goal is to improve and find out how fit I can get. I still don’t believe that I’ve reached my maximum, that’s why I get up every morning and train, to find out where that maximum is.
What advice would you give to amateur triathletes who aspire to iron distance triathlons?
It’s a great way to challenge yourself and get fit. Once you’ve done an ironman, it’s like a healthy addiction and you want to improve yourself.
Also it’s a very special atmosphere and a great feeling when you reach your goal and cross that finish line.
Photos by Nils Nilsen from ironman.com