Caroline Steffen skips Kona to focus on the Ironman 70.3 Distance in 2016

Kona podium regular Caroline Steffen has different goals for 2016

by Ian Hepenstall – ironman.com

Superstar Caroline Steffen hopes her seven-year itch will lead to an IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship title on the Sunshine Coast of Australia later this year. The Swiss-born, Australian-based triathlete, who has spent seven years chasing glory at the IRONMAN World Championship, is taking a year out from the annual pilgrimage to Kailua-Kona and from the sport’s ultimate distance.

After following the sun around the globe, Steffen is going to stay largely at home in Australia this winter. “To be fair, you can’t call winter here on the Sunshine Coast a real winter. Today it was still 28C degrees outside while I was training,” Steffen said.

The 37-year-old athlete has decided it is time to recharge her batteries and take a break from IRONMAN in 2016. She says it is already having a positive effect. “My body appreciates less volume and better quality in training, and definitely responds to more rest,” she says.

The prize, then, is the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship which will be staged in the southern hemisphere for the first time in her adopted home town of Mooloolaba on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast in September. “Having the worlds here is a fantastic opportunity and I am excited by the challenge and the change in my program,” Steffen says.

Steffen’s new outlook on training has prompted a change in coaching direction. She’s now under the guidance of British-born, New Zealand-based Dan Plews, a doctor in exercise physiology and a stand-out age group triathlete in his own right. Plews, who also coaches Tim van Berkel and has advised Tim Reed, works for High Performance Sport New Zealand and is currently aligned to the powerful New Zealand Olympic rowing program. “I met Dan in December and shared our ideas and we clicked. I like his program and approach,” Steffen says.

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The change in direction has brought a quantum change, not just in mileage but in philosophy from her original coach Brett Sutton. Steffen recalls, “Brett is all about how you feel as an athlete but Dan is the complete opposite. He is all about the numbers. It’s the polar opposite. It’s a new challenge—more quality, more speed, less volume. I’m excited.”

Steffen, who has six IRONMAN and 17 IRONMAN 70.3 victories to her credit, has made other adjustments in her year of sea change. It will be the first time she has not ventured back to Europe to train and race, while earlier this year she traveled to California to race for the first time, finishing second at Oceanside. “I raced some of those girls that I never see because they don’t travel much. I thought if they won’t visit me then I would visit them.”

On her upcoming calendar, Steffen will return to California this year to race Vineman in the lead-up to the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship. “So far, so good. I feel refreshed and excited. Having a world championship in your home town is such a wonderful opportunity—it’s going to be crazy.”

Stats: Caroline Steffen

Born: Switzerland

Background: Swiss national swim squad (10 years), Swiss cycling squad, and Cervelo Pro Cycling (2 years).

IRONMAN: 6 wins, 9 podiums

Other long distance: 3 wins including ITU Long Distance Worlds (2 times)

IRONMAN 70.3: 17 wins, 10 podiums

Total wins: 35 (from 67 races)

Total Podiums: 58 (from 67 races)


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