A Conversation With IRONMAN™ Mont-Tremblant and Chattanooga Winner Cody Beals
Cody Beals is two for two at the full IRONMAN™ distance. Two starts, two wins. In addition to both of his victories, Cody managed to break both bike course records and the overall record at IRONMAN™ Mont-Tremblant. According to Cody, these performances were the outcome of a “meticulous two year plan”. We sat down with him to discuss what he meant by this, his bike set-up, and much more.
Ventum: Ironman Chattanooga was your second full ironman, can you talk briefly about your introduction into triathlon and why the switch to the full distance?
Cody: I grew up surrounded by endurance sports thanks to my parents. My first introduction to competitive sports was through the local summer league swim team, a very laid-back affair. I tackled my first triathlon—a “tri-a-try”—at age 16. I wish I could say that I was immediately hooked, but it wasn’t until several years later after university that triathlon became my focus. I continued to dabble in triathlon while running varsity cross country in high school and university while keeping up a little swimming and cycling on the side. After I completed my undergrad in physics, I granted myself some time to focus on triathlon. I soon had a breakthrough performance, winning the Ontario Provincial Championship and going sub-4 hours in my first half distance race. I was fortunate to have some mentors who encouraged me to take my pro card. That was five years ago and it’s still feels like a pleasant surprise that my hobby somehow snowballed into my full-time career.
I initially found success as a half distance specialist, claiming seven wins at IRONMAN 70.3 and Challenge half races. However, I suspected that the full distance would ultimately be my forte as I’ve performed relatively better every time I’ve moved up in distance. I resisted pressure to make an earlier IRONMAN debut, bided my time and respected the distance in order to get it right. I was eager to make a splash in my debut but also appreciated the patience required. My win and course record in Tremblant were the product of a meticulous two year plan.
Ventum: In your two IRONMAN starts, not only have you won them but you have also set new bike course records. Being a detail oriented person, and a self described perfectionist, can you speak to your bike set up and how it has impacted your overall performance?
Cody: Cycling has been my strongest discipline over most of my five year pro career. When I began riding a Ventum three years ago, it was actually my running that benefitted more than anything else. Comfort played a role, but it was the Ventum’s aerodynamic performance that allowed me to maintain my cycling strength while also coming off the bike fresher than before. I’ve witnessed a marked increase in the level of riding in pro triathlon. It’s not been enough to merely hold steady. Going back even five years, I was among a minority of pros who were truly paying attention to details like frame aerodynamics, helmets, suits, bottles, drivetrains, tires, etc. These days, no contenders are overlooking low hanging fruit and leaving much time on the table.
Ventum’s design reflects the same philosophy I bring to my training and racing: obsessive, no-stone-unturned optimization. Through years of work with Ventum in the wind tunnel and STAC in the Virtual Wind Tunnel, I know that my setup is about as fast as they come. This is evidenced by my recent IRONMAN bike course records (unofficial in Chattanooga due to the swim cancelation), where I pushed surprisingly low average power of under 270 watts. My research suggests that such bike splits would typically require closer to 300 watts for a guy my size with a less refined bike and position.
Ventum: Can you speak to your meticulous plan? How did the approach change, from a mental and training standpoint, once you knew that the full distance was ultimately your calling?
Cody: I worked with Ventum, STAC, Alto, Pioneer and SLF Motion to find as much “free speed” as possible.
[But] from a training standpoint, the shift to Ironman was relatively subtle. I focused on 70.3 racing for the first six months of the year before taking a mid-season break. After that, I devoted 9 weeks to preparing for Tremblant. It was my most consistent and we’ll executed build ever with the help of my coach David Tilbury-Davis. I continued to include plenty of intensity such as a high end trainer and track workouts and swims with Guelph Triathlon Project, a local ITU focused squad. Overall training load remained comparable, but with a slightly greater emphasis on volume rather than intensity. I seldom ride longer than 3 to 4 hours for 70.3 training, but 4 to 6 hour rides became a weekly staple. In the five weeks leading up to Tremblant, I did three 6 hour trainer rides on my Ventum. I also included a couple 50 km double run days and a standalone 2:45 marathon on the treadmill with a good deal of intensity. The focus was always on consistent work on a daily basis, not epic sessions or monster training days.