Getting Race Ready for 2019 with Josh Amberger

Getting Race Ready for 2019 with Josh Amberger

The 2019 season is about to kick off, though I can’t much contemplate this unless I talk about how the 2018 season finished.

It finished on the Queen Ka’ahumanu highway at kilometre 18 during the marathon of the Ironman World Championships. I was brought to a stop by an ongoing injury to my ITB, which had seen me withdraw from my previous two races, and now, from the biggest race of the year.

It  was a devastating moment, but something that I had more or less prepared for mentally the two months leading in. I raced Ironman Frankfurt in July, typically the race next in line on the ‘to win’ list next to Kona. I finished in 5th after a solid race, but pulled up lame two weeks later. The ITB injury is for the better part an overuse injury, and it had been in the post for some time. I’d had a relentless string of racing for the 18 months prior to that, and just never really took much downtime between races and seasons. When the ITB injury took hold, I made my best attempt to be ready for Kona and to get through the race, but I was always going to be pushing the limit.

I was able to run pain free for the two weeks prior to the race in Kona, but this hadn’t allowed for the relentless preparation necessary to be at the pointy end of the race during the run leg. I led out of the water, was off the bike in third, but fell back quickly during the run. I was okay with this though, and my focus shifted to finishing. Next from executing your best possible race, finishing is always the best thing in Ironman. I was moving slowly and pain free, but stopped for the portaloo and never really made it ‘out of the shit’. As I parked myself down in the plastic portable cauldron, my ITB tightened up and went into spasm. Through some quiet tears back on the highway, I tried to make forward progress, but couldn’t even walk. The choice was clear at this point, my body needed some rest.

"Next from executing your best possible race, finishing is always the best thing in Ironman"

I took over two months away from the sport to heal my body and rejuvenate my mind. I was able to follow my partner Ash to victory in the following weeks in the Nepean and Noosa triathlons, and then we took our annual unplugged camping trip to Moreton Island. Apart from following Ash, I steered away from the sport, all the news feeds and race results. I didn’t think about going for a swim or riding my bike, and of course because of the injury, running was out of the question. Triathlon in 2018 was a done deal, and I was enjoying the company of Ashleigh, my friends and my family, and the challenge of finishing our new home. Construction began in March, and by October after Kona we were nearing practical completion. It was perfect timing because it allowed me to slip out of the sporting life and into the next; I guess you could call it the ‘normal’ life. Of course, there was still a lot of sweat and calories burnt. If you know me, you wouldn’t have to guess I was enjoying planting a ton of trees and learning all about them, as well as extensive landscaping. I also kept busy assisting where possible with the build, setting up the bike workshop, as well as furnishing and moving in. It was the perfect break, one where I didn’t give myself a chance to dwell on my failures of the previous year. While I took the lessons I needed to from the 2018 experience, there was no need to continue stinging over it. The house also encapsulated a new beginning, and one full of optimism. All the house work finished with a final round of gardening, turfing, irrigating and mulching in mid-January, and it made way once again for dedicated training. I had 4 weeks until Geelong, and 12 weeks until Ironman South Africa. It was time to get moving again.

I’m fresh in body and spirit, and ready to push myself to another level for 2019 & beyond. I’ve never taken that much time away from training or racing, but I feel as if I have been rewarded for doing so. The motivation and goals are still the same, just forged stronger and renewed. My instincts as a human are to race and compete, and I want to do this as long as my body allows. Being not yet 30, I hope this is for some time. I want to reach the top in Ironman racing, and I believe I can do it. I’ve made some considerable and positive changes to my training in 2019 & I have continued support from some of the best companies in the triathlon industry for training, racing and recovery. I hope you enjoy following my journey in triathlon for 2019, it all kicks off this weekend in Geelong for yet another year of one of my favourite courses on the Ironman 70.3 circuit.