A chat with Will Ronco

At the 2008 Ironman Lake Placid, Will Ronco came through with a breakthrough performance and finished 5th overall. After trying to hug anyone in sight at the finish line, Ronco now has his sights set on Kona.

ST: Will, congrats on a fantastic 5th place at Ironman Lake Placid. Are you still on cloud 9?

Will: YES!! Holy goodness, I have been working a long time toward that result, it was an incredible feeling to achieve that goal.

ST: How much time to relax do you have now before getting ready for Kona?

Will: A few days – I am racing at the 5430 half here in Boulder on August 10, then at the Timberman 70.3 on August 17.

ST: Do you find it advantageous to live in Boulder among so many other great athletes?

Will: It can be intimidating! Fortunately I don't always recognize people, which saves me from being too nervous about who I am working out with. For instance, last fall I rode for half an hour with Dave Scott before realizing who he was. But I really do like living here.
People are pretty laid back, maybe in part because there are so many great athletes in town. It's hard to be too impressed with yourself when there are 25 guys just in your town who could kick your butt on any given day.

ST: What is your athletic background and who or what inspired you to race triathlons?

Will: I raced bikes as a teenager and began dabbling in multi sport in high school; after a trip to the 1996 duathlon world championships, I realized I needed to learn to run as well! I ran track and cross country through college, and moved to Boulder after graduating to try to become a pro triathlete.

ST: Please describe a typical hard training week for us.

Will: The total volume is about 32 hours, with about eighteen of those spent on the bike, eight on the run, and the rest swimming. Within the week, it is pretty consistent. Every day is pretty tough; you wake up tired and go to bed very tired. My coach, the legendary Slowtwitch smartass Paulo Sousa, is a big believer in tailoring workouts to the individual athlete. Luckily, all of his athletes are exactly the same, so we do a lot of the same workouts. Seriously, it is easy to be flippant about what he does, especially since he is such a smartass, but I truly would never have made it as far as I have without his guidance. Everyone gets fit the same way, so at the end of the day it makes sense that we would be doing a lot of the same work.

ST: Talking about training, will you change anything leading up to Kona? Also, how well do you handle heat and humidity?

Will: That is going to be tough. On one hand I want to train twice as hard! But on the other hand I want to stick with what works, try to be consistent, and just get there a little fitter than I am now. I've always had trouble in hot weather, so that is definitely something I will be working on in the coming months. Hello, trainer workouts in the sauna!

ST: Do you have a favorite race and can you tell us why you like it?

Will: You know, I just really like racing. There are a few races that I like to go back to year after year, like the 5430 race series and Timberman 70.3. Also any of the FIRM race series races in Massachusetts, which is where I cut my teeth on triathlons, because they are such fun and so laid-back.

ST: How do you typically spend the off-season?

Will: The past couple of seasons I have celebrated with injury, but I’m hoping to stop that pattern. I want to be able to participate in the Slowtwitch swim and run challenges this winter. I think wintertime is prime time for getting a lot fitter, if you can manage it. There are fewer distractions like races to derail the training.

ST: If you could change anything about the sport of triathlon, what would it be?

Will: I would make bicycles easier to transport.

ST: How are things going for you in terms of sponsorship?

Will: Great!! I am racing with the newly formed Craft/Cervelo/Karhu multi sport team this year, and they have been incredible. The team director Corey did a fantastic job of bringing all of the sponsors together, and I’m deeply grateful that they decided to take a chance on me this season.

ST: Do you follow any other sports?

Will: I follow bike racing a little bit. It’s such a treat to follow the Tour every summer.

ST: Can you share with us some of your food likes and dislikes?

Will: I am extremely fond of sandwiches and bagels. I go through almost 3 dozen bagels a week when I am training hard. Other than that I am pretty low key about food. I do hate iced coffee, and also coconut.

ST: What about music? Anything you listen to more often?

Will: I like to get psyched up for races by listening to the A-Team theme song. I also enjoy classic rock and show tunes.

ST: What was the last book you read?

Will: “Leave It To Psmith”, by PG Wodehouse.

ST: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Will: Good question! You know, I don’t really have any idea. The past year or two have been really, really good to me. I kind of feel like I am riding this wave of awesomeness right now, so wherever that takes me, I guess.

ST: Is there anything else we should know about you?

Will: I mix a mean martini and have taught an all-ages course on flirting.

Thanks again for interviewing me! It's an honor to be included in the pantheon of ST athlete interviews!