Chris McCormack is widely considered one of the world’s best athletes. A two-time winner of the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, “Macca” has dominated the triathlon circuit around the globe for over a decade. His accomplishments are impressive, but they have not come without setbacks. Macca has had to work hard to overcome adversity and meet the challenges of his sport.
Although he found success in other races, Macca struggled early to conquer Kona. On his first attempt and after much hype, the intense heat and wind got the best of him, and he failed to finish. It took him six tries, but in 2007, he finally crossed the finish line first—after eight hours, 15 minutes and 34 seconds of intense work. Three years later, he won his second Ironman in 8:10:37. ["Normal" athletes take around 11 hours.]
To prepare for the Ironman—a 2.4-mile ocean swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile marathon run—Macca begins training 10 to 12 weeks before the event; and he trains between 25 and 30 hours per week, which involves, he says "10 to 15 miles of swimming, 400 miles of riding and 60 miles of running." You'd have to drive eight hours at 60 mph to cover the distance Macca travels in a single week of training.
Although endurance training is his main focus, Macca also spends time cross-training. “By definition, triathlon is the quintessential cross-training sport,” he says, so he incorporates a variety of training methods into his program. He particularly enjoys boxing, which he views as delivering valuable performance improvements to his endurance racing. “I do a lot of boxing work for my motor neuron skills,” he says. “I find I get very lean very quickly and I’m very quick on my feet.”
Finally, Macca believes weight room training is important for endurance athletes. He performs exercises that closely mimic the movements of swimming, biking and running. One of his favorites is the Lat Pulldown, which improves his swimming stroke. He also spends time developing his core. This provides a strong muscle foundation so he can maintain form and prevent fatigue throughout a race.
Want more on Macca? View new STACK TV training and interview videos here.