/ Watts That Won

Watts That Won: Ben Kanute Win's Texas Ironman 70.3

Ben Kanute is no stranger to winning. The difference for this race was the preparation. Ben's focus on quality, power-based training rather than volume, paid off in tremendous fashion on the roads of Galveston, TX.

Watts That Won = 326

Quality Training -- No Junk Miles

Jim Vance, Ben’s coach and author of Run With Power, decided months ago that Ben’s early season training would focus on quality work rather than volume. Jim wanted Ben to get a little better every every workout, instead of feeling compelled to fulfill crazy weekly mileage or training time per week. To accomplish this, Jim prepared very focused power-based training sessions on the bike and the run.

For example, Ben ran a number of tempo or threshold-based intervals, such as 5x8’ or 5x5’. During these sessions, he quickly became comfortable running within a certain power range to accomplish the specific goal of the workout. Ben worried less about running a large quantity of miles at 7’ pace, and more on achieving the specific physiological adaption goals from each workout.

The Race Plan

The Texas 70.3 event featured a world class field. With unusually cold temperatures for this time of year, the race was not going to be an easy one.

The race plan was simple. Ben wanted to get out hard on the swim, forcing some of the stronger runners in the field to follow. Then, Ben was to ride to his capability for the 56-mile bike, and not exceed 340 watts for the entirety of the run.

“He knew the strengths and weaknesses of his competitors, and how to leverage those for his benefit," Vance told us.

Perfect Execution

Ben completed the swim and bike according to plan. Coming off the bike, he was 1:30 behind the leader of the race. Ben had something the leader didn’t: run power. Keeping his eye on his watts, Ben ran two blistering fast miles at 340 watts exactly, which equated to an average pace of 5:35/mile. Although he was at his wattage ceiling, Ben was completely in control. He had run this wattage in many focused-workouts over the past few months and knew it was sustainable. After mile two, he passed the leader and opened a gap on the rest of the field. At this point, he had only finished the first of the three laps that composed the run course.

Midway through the second lap, the gap was 3:00 minutes to second place -- over ½ mile. Ben was able to relax a little and focus on running steady in order to maintain the lead.

At the start of the third lap, Ben learned two things. His competitors were closing the gap, and if he picked up the pace, he would be on track to break 1:15 for the half marathon -- a secondary goal of the day.

Having lowered his average power on the second loop, Ben had no problem speeding up for the last 4 miles. He ran smoothly across the line to win the 70.3 Texas in 3:43:44. His run split: 1:14:16. Not bad for a cold early April effort.

"Tactically, he raced very intelligently, only taking the risks where they needed to be taken, so he could recover from this race quickly and get back to training even quicker for races in the coming weeks and months,” said Coach Jim Vance.

What's Next for Ben?

Ben is already back at his training base in Phoenix. He'll be heading to a training camp in San Diego later this week, and soon he will be competing in at the WTS event in Bermuda and the infamous Escape from Alcatraz race in San Francisco, CA.