An interview with Garmin-sponsored Olympic triathlete Tim Don

DonGarmin has been a sponsor and official kit supplier to World Champion triathlete Tim Don for three seasons. Tim relies on Garmin GPS technology to train on the bike and for the run and is currently preparing for his third Olympic Games.

The Edge cycle computer helped him replicate the 2006 World Championship course to train for and ultimately take the title. Tim also uses the Forerunner 405 sports watch to record where, how far and how fast he trains. See what it takes to train for the Olympic triathlon.

Recently he was interviewed in advance of the Olympic Games.  Here’s what he had to say:

How has the season been so far?

It’s been good. I had a good start to the World Cup series with some consistent results and of course the win in Korea. Having broken my arm at the Beijing WC last year, the early races were important because the first goal of the year was to qualify for the Olympics at the Madrid WC.

The weather played havoc with the race (torrential rain during the cycle leg resulting in over half the field DNF-ing) but I did a good job of finishing 4th and therefore being selected for my third Olympic Games. I also won the British Sprint title in Reading (the week before Madrid) and the last race before Beijing will be the National Olympic distance Champs (in Bryn Bach) on Saturday(26th) where I’ll be gunning for my fifth win in a row.

Congratulations on your selection for Beijing. What are your goals for the Olympics?

The first thing is to be on the start line healthy and in the best possibly shape I can be in ! I’m confident of being in the mix for a medal and I’ll certainly be fighting for one !

Give us an account of a typical day in the life of Tim Don?

On most days I will swim, bike and run. A "normal" day goes something like this:

How are you specifically preparing for the Beijing – the course and the conditions?

The predicted conditions for Beijing are hot and humid. The British squad spent some time in Austin, Texas (40 degrees and very humid) before Des Moines WC, and I am currently in Spain (very hot) for some more adaptation. We then leave for Korea at the end of the month and they have a very similar climate to Beijing.

The course is a non wetsuit swim, solid bike, solid run so it will be a real test. The weather could be a bit of a wild card and may affect some people, but hopefully we have got that as well covered as we can.

How has your training been going?

The key to my training is consistency. I had one of the best winters training in South Africa which really set me up for the season, especially after my broken arm in September. Ben Bright, my coach, was out for some of the time but when he wasn’t we used the technology available to us from the Forerunner 405 and Edge 705.

It meant that although he didnt see me do the session, Ben was able to study my speed, distance, average heart rate etc (any more Andy?) from the downloads on motionbased. I like mapping my routes on Google Earth and seeing where I had been that day.

What key training sessions have you been doing?

There have been several key sessions that I’ve done where my Garmin units and the information they supply are essential. The one shown is the 2 hour run I did with Fraser last week. It is a really good aerobic session and good for my running strength, especially important for the solid Beijing course.

Average speed is crucial (not too fast, but not too slow) but it is also important to keep an eye on heart rate and time/distance. Another key run one is the 10km (or sometimes 12) negative split – the current speed shows I’m on track and the distance feature counts down how much further there is to go!
The bike session shown is the 90km (in 2 hours 35) solid ride from earlier in the week. Beijing bike course is not flat and I’ll need to be strong on the bike to run fast off it. 

Another of my favourites is the motor pacing I do with Ben. He holds a certain speed on the moped which I need to keep. My average and maximum speed are the key and it’s also interesting to see how the gradient effects my gearing.