Michael Weiss is breaking new ground in his preparation for the 2015 season. In mid-December he set up a new training base in Lucca, Italy, a region which offers perfect training conditions for endurance triathletes. "To date, I have never had to set up the indoor trainer or use the rollers due to weather," Michael said, as he has always preferred outdoor training. In a recent interview Weiss revealed some of his training strategies and goals for another successful season which starts at the end of February at Challenge Dubai.
How did you and your American wife, Rachel, settle on the decision to use Lucca as a winter training base?
Michael Weiss: The climatic conditions are ideal in Tuscany. Winters in Colorado and especially last year's in Maine were cold and snowy. With an average temperature of 10-12c degrees, I can train safely and correctly throughout the winter, but at the same time I still have the feeling of the seasons. Another important factor is the city's character and life, I have great balance and variety through Lucca's culture and cuisine. Geography is another great advantage; I can leave Lucca in the morning with my Opel from Auto Eisner and I'm home in Austria in the afternoon!
What are the training conditions in Lucca?
Weiss: In a word: perfect! I have three 25-meter pools within 10 minutes and when it gets warmer there is open water facilities with a 50-meter pool. Cycling is an absolute dream. Tuscany is a Disneyland for cyclists, here you can find everything - flat, mountains, hilly, little to no traffic, and the drivers are respectful to cyclists. You can tell during every ride that cycling is a national sport. For run training I hit the path along river Serchio or atop the city walls which is 4.2 km around, 10 laps for a marathon.
You're currently preparing for the first race. What exactly happens at this stage?
Weiss: Predominantly base work at this time. I consider the winter months to be my foundation for a long season. Most of the time I spend on the bike with swimming and running building consistently. I currently train around 25 hours per week, but this can even be a cross-country weekend in Carinthia.
What is the situation with new training strategies and motivation? Have you changed anything in your training?
Weiss: The biggest change is that I can complete all training outdoors which takes the monotony of winter training away. This is certainly a new appeal, no longer having to train under indoor laboratory conditions. Outdoor training is also valuable for me because it gives me a sense of tough robustness.
You've always trained in the United States with elite triathletes and specialists in various other disciplines. Do you already have a training partner in Italy?
Weiss: I won with Alberto Alessandroni as a training partner and a good friend now. He comes from the Olympic distance and was on the Italian Olympic team for the 2012 Games in London. Alberto is a very fast swimmer and runner, we train almost every day together. I can benefit from his swimming, he can hang in my slipstream at the wheel. Alberto also helps me in many ways to overcome language barriers and learn the area.
Have there been any changes in your coaching staff?
Weiss: Yes. Mario Huys is still the head coach, Garth Fox my bike specialist. What is new is that I swim with a team in Italy, Tirrenica Nuoto and Alessio Faralli. He builds me into the group- consisting of fast high school kids- perfectly, and tailors my workouts for what kind of training I need each day.
Your first competition in 2015 was a 10km run in Viareggio where you finished 2nd. What conclusions have you drawn from this performance?
Weiss: It was a real ten on a relatively difficult track with seven 180-degree turns. With my time (32:26 minutes) I am absolutely thrilled with my effort. My shape is exactly where it should be at this time. I still have more potential and that makes me feel very confident. Although it certainly hurt with only offseason and aerobic base training, it was a good feeling that the engine was once again revved properly.