With the opening round of the ITU World Championship Series fast approaching, former Olympic champion Kate Allen has moved her training into top gear in what will be her final season as a professional triathlete.
Building on her solid endurance fitness base, since December 17, 2008 Allen has gently increased her training and is pleased to have made the decision to race one more year.
The Australian-born Austrian national has battled extreme heat during her training camp in the Australian town of Geelong, Victoria. During January, temperatures reached 48C and Allen had to begin her day with a 90 minute run starting at 4.30am.
Using the latest technology from Finnish heart-rate monitor company Suunto, Allen and her team record and analyse every session using specialised software.
After each run, it was straight into the pool, where her long-time swim coach John Beckworth advised her on technique and new recruit Jeremy Oliver worked on building up her strength. Oliver is a renowned conditioning trainer who also worked with double Olympic swim champion Grant Hackett.
"I have to raise my maximum strength, in order to be quicker over the first hundred metres" says Allen. "With Jeremy we have found the right man. John throws an eye on my technique and with both on my side we have created the right training environment."
Allen can also look forward to a season of racing without discomfort. The 38-year-old sustained serious injuries in April 2008, which badly affected her run-up to the Beijing Games. Her thumbs were operated on at the end of 2008, and she is content with the outcome.
"It's a wonderful feeling to finally be able to work pain-free again," she says.
Her first race for 2009 will be the ITU World Championship opener in Singapore on May 9. A personal focal point for the year will be the Kitzbühel leg of the series on July 12, close to her adopted home of Innsbruck.
"Every race will be a highlight," Allen says, "but Kitzbühel will be an emotional experience and won't be topped."