Nicola Spirig is back in training camp for the Pho3nix Sub8 Project, Powered by Zwift, less than two months after breaking her collarbone and ribs and puncturing a lung in a bike crash. With race day just a little more than a month away, is she still on pace to go Sub8?
“There were a few hiccups in the healing process; it wasn’t an easy time in the last two months,” she says. “The healing was going quite well. Unfortunately I had a really bad cold, and a lot of coughing made my rib much worse again. I also had a problem with my foot, with the plantar fascia, that made me cautious about my run training.”
The dual Olympic medallist has been running in second gear as recovery has taken priority over training, but she still took third in the Zurich Marathon three weeks ago and finished in fourth at Challenge Gran Canaria a week later.
“We are doing our best to get back to 100% and I’m still positive we will get the most out of myself and we will be fit and healthy on the start line of Sub8.”
This is better news following Lucy Charles-Barclay’s withdrawal from the event due to a hip fracture. Spirig comments on the situation, saying, “When I got the news that Lucy was injured and can’t compete in the Sub8 Project I felt really sorry for her. I hope she recovers quickly.”
She welcomes having a new challenger in Kat Matthews. “I’m happy to have a new rival I can compete against because it’s more motivating. And it makes it much more interesting for the spectators.”
Whoever her competitor would be though, Spirig says her preparations have not changed. “I will focus on my race, my splits, and my team to get the best out of myself and try to be the fastest I can be,” she says.
Speaking of splits, Spirig already has a game plan. First, for the swim: “I’m slower than usual at the moment and I’m still trying to catch up. I hope in the next few weeks I will make progress there. Swimming around 50 minutes [for 3.8 kilometers] will be good.”
On the 180-kilometer bike leg, she will lean heavily on her pacemakers to keep the average speed high. “I have a great team and we will try to ride around 42.5 to 43 kilometres per hour, which will result in a time of 4:19.”
Finally, finishing strong on the marathon is key – but the run is one of Spirig’s strongest suits. “If everything goes perfect and I feel really good, I think a 2:45 marathon will be possible. Adding transition times, that should still give me a time under eight hours. I will be really happy with that,” she concludes.