Interview with Nicholas (Nico) Ward Muñoz, Triathlete

One of Europe’s most successful triathletes, former resident of the island of Lanzarote and all-round nice guy, Sands Beach Resort are proud to be sponsoring Nico Ward Muñoz in Ironman Lanzarote 2011. Recently moved to Denmark, Sands Beach (SB) managed to catch up with Nico in between a gruelling training routine, travelling and competitions to ask him how he’s getting on with his training preparations for the BIG event…

SB: Nico, why did you decide to make the move to Denmark, and what impact has that had on your training regime?
Nico: My wife and I decided to move to Denmark (back to her home town and close to her family) because of a good work opportunity for her.

It does affect training quite a lot, specially in winter time! I have had to adapt from living on Lanzarote, which is a paradise training site for triathletes, to a Scandinavian country. I have had to learn to go out on bike rides at -5 degrees Celsius and running in -10 degrees weather with snow and ice, finding new training routes and adapting to doing more indoor training with a lot of limitations.

But on the positive side, I believe this has made me stronger – mentally and also physically – as I have trained my body in a different way from the way I have been used to. I believe that during the winter I have improved my running and swimming to the next level and during winter/spring, with a couple of training camps on Lanzarote and at Sands Beach Resort (and some good indoor work at home), my cycling has also improved.

SB: Congratulations on your Ocean Lava Triathlon and Tristar 111 results at the end of last year! Which of those was the most satisfying for you and why?
Nico: Thanks! I believe the Tristar was definitely much more satisfying. Ocean Lava was a good, beautiful and well organized race with a great atmosphere where I had a great time, but unfortunately I didn’t manage to perform as I would have liked on race day, even though I finished in third place. I was not 100% fresh as I was a bit tired from my preparations for the Iron-distance Challenge Barcelona race in October.

On the other hand, at Tristar 111 Estonia, I managed to perform really well on race day with a world class Pro-field. Finishing fourth, one place ahead of Australian Chris McCormack who 2 months later managed to win Hawaii Ironman, was something special for me.

SB: You’ve just competed in the Half Challenge Playitas Fuertaventura. In competition terms, how did the Fuertaventura terrain differ from Lanzarote?
Nico: The bike course is really, really hilly with hardly any flat sections and some very steep climbs with fast descents, and then one climb after another. I think the organizers have made a bike route where there is almost as much climbing as in Ironman Lanzarote but in only 90km!

SB: The ‘big one’ – Lanzarote Ironman 2011 – is just around the calendar corner. How is your training going for it?
Nico: I have focused the last months of my training in order to be ready for Ironman Lanzarote, but don’t forget that, as a professional triathlete I have to do many other good races during the year in order to survive.

Training has been good, and I have proved that I am stronger and on the right track with third and second placings respectively at Half Iron distance events at Marbella and Elche.
Now, all the hard blocks of training have been done. So from now until Ironman Lanzarote it’s all about recovering and preparing the body and mind to be in peak shape at the right moment, even though I will still put in a couple of hard but shorter training days.

SB: Which Ironman discipline are most looking forward to? And which are you least looking forward to?
Nico: I’m looking forward to everything I guess. I want to improve my swim time from last year’s race. I have become a better swimmer and I want to prove that at a big race and to be one of the first men coming out of the water. I’ve also got a new wetsuit sponsored from “Zoot” which is incredible! The bike course will be really important to decide what happens in the race and I am looking forward to having a great ride on my new BH bike and enjoying it, even if it hurts a lot, the whole way. And of course the final marathon leg, which is my strongest discipline, is going to be spectacular.

SB: When we spoke last year, you said you were hoping to improve on your Ironman Lanzarote 2010 6th place finish and to be on the podium this year. How do you feel now? Any predictions?
Nico: My goal this year is to aim for victory, but if I don’t make it, a podium place would still not be a bad result. I will be happy as long as I manage to perform at my very best on race day, and if I get beaten by stronger guys, so be it. Right now I’m extremely tired from my last really hard training blocks and from racing at Playitas, Fuertaventura – a really tough one with a very competitive pro field. But these next weeks I hope to recover well at Sands Beach Resort with some good rest, good physio treatment from Juan, healthy food and some good training days, so I can be 100% on May 21st!