Big changes for Lisa Norden

Lisa Norden had a very fine 2012 season with despite that photo finish loss of the Olympic Gold in London. But moving forward Norden now has a new place of residence, Crowie as a coach and a longer distance on her mind, at least for a year. We should expect to see the 2012 ITU World Series champion back on that course in 2014, but for now onwards to the chat with Lisa Norden.

ST: Hi Lisa, thanks for the chat.

Lisa: Hello Herbert, thank you.

ST: You are currently on Fuerteventura and how often do you go there?

Lisa: It is a bit on and off now. I have done two weeks in December and am doing that right now. It is probably going to be two weeks in March and two weeks in April.

ST: How did that place come up in the first place and is that now settled moving forward?

Lisa: I spoke to Daniel the Swedish rep for Playitas in August around the Stockholm race and it seemed to be an easy option for me to have a base down here. I have an apartment and I can keep all my stuff and gear down here and it isn’t too far away from Sweden. Which for me right now is a main priority because I have so much stuff going on at home and I need to be able to go back to deal with media relations.

ST: That is a change for you.

Lisa: I have gone through quite a lot of changes this year and I set up a home base in Sweden. The training is actually not too bad although now I have to do a lot indoors. I got a new run coach and a new swim coach in Stockholm plus I have great rehab facilities. It is really good to be back home and I can combine that with the other activities around sport, but we had minus 15 degree Celsius temps, it has been super cold and we had a lot of snow and that makes things difficult. So you can go do that for 2 weeks or 3 weeks, but for the bulk of the cycling and endurance work it is really nice to come down here, gets some sunshine and easy conditions to train in.

ST: When you then go to Fuerteventura do you go with someone else or by yourself?

Lisa: I come down here by myself, which means I don’t have great rehab or physio and I also don’t have a swim team or swim coach. So for two weeks I can do fine by myself and focus more on the run and the bike, but then I need to go back and get back to the structure, groups, higher quality, attention to detail and upper end aerobic work.

ST: You mentioned new coaches.

Lisa: The main coach or my mentor is Craig Alexander. He is going to do all my race planning and schedules and he sets my weekly training programs. He is my mentor and I bounce a lot of ideas off him and check my sessions and training with him. And then in Stockholm I have a run coach and a swim coach who do the more hands on coaching. So I get Crowie’s schedule and the different phases and the type of sessions I have to do, but then it is up to my coaches at home to set the actual sessions with the reps and the sets and the different intervals and combine that into a good weekly puzzle. It is a nice combination of different bits and it is good to have Craig Alexander on board.

ST: When did that come about?

Lisa: Already when I came to Canberra in 2011 we had a long chat and Darren and I agreed that 2012 going to the Olympics, going to Auckland would be the end of that cycle. I came to him in 2007 - we had gone through the Beijing Olympics and then we had another 4 years to the London Olympics, but for both of us to stay sane and keep developing we probably had to change the structure a bit. I am not 23 anymore, that is when I joined Darren, I am now 28 and I wanted to have an apartment and wanted to put my foot down somewhere, and this was the logical time to do that. He wanted me to go out and try out my wings a bit. Set up at in my home environment where I could also have my own place.

ST: Prior you spent quite a bit of time in Australia?

Lisa: For almost 6 to 7 years now where I combined my time between Switzerland in the summer and Australia in the winter, and I have been home for 3 to 4 weeks in October and 1 to 2 weeks in April/May. I always lived in temporary places, rented an apartment for a few months and then packed my bags and moved to a new base. That is fantastic if you are targeting a specific race or put your head down for a period of time, but if I want to do that for another 8 to 10 years I needed to change the structure a bit and also find a bit more balance in life.

ST: Does that also mean you are focusing on longer distances?

Lisa: Also when I had that meeting with Darren we discussed what would be next step and I a fully committed to the Rio Olympics and I am in short course for another 4 years. But also to maybe stay sane and to stay motivated and excited I realized I needed to do something else this year. Just to leave the ITU a little bit and just get thrown into deep waters and feel scared a little bit. It is all new and different and that is why I chose to focus on Half Ironman this year and I still will do Stockholm and might do a couple other ITU races, but my main focus is Vegas. Next year I will go back to the ITU World Series, collect points for Rio and developing speed and getting back to the short course.

ST: What will be your first race?

Lisa: I am doing the Challenge Fuerteventura on April 13th.

ST: That should be like a hometown race for you, like racing back home in Sweden.

Lisa: It would be almost - it is my second home right now.

ST: Do you feel pressure at this distance?

Lisa: It is almost the other way around. I would have had more pressure going back to the ITU World Series because you kind of want to start where you left. Going to Half Ironman is a bit new to me and thus don’t have the same expectations and pressure, and it is a learning process in terms of nutrition, hydration and just making the distance.

ST: So how often do you talk to Crowie?

Lisa: Once a week at the moment.

ST: He is very soft spoken at least the way I know him. Is he like that as a coach or mentor?

Lisa: That is actually the reason why I emailed him and asked him if he wanted to mentor and coach me a bit, and he is not an outspoken coach right now. But I looked around and there seems to be this movement after the Olympics where everyone switches coaches to the left. Everyone changes groups and changes coaches with each other and I did not want to be part of that movement. I wanted to do something new and something that wasn’t already a structure. I looked around to see who would I like to learn from, and who is one of my big idols and role models out there. Here is this guy who came from ITU racing and developed himself in a very clever way. He is a guy who thinks before he talks. That is why I asked him and was delighted when he said he would take on a bit of a coaching role.

ST: As far as you know are you the only person he helps along those lines?

Lisa: I don’t know actually. I think he has a few training camps and things like that going on, but he does not have a group like Darren.

ST: When you were in Kona did you chat with him?

Lisa: Because he and everyone who was there was getting ready for the biggest race of the year and you are supposed to leave every one alone. I did think about it and if the right time would have come around I would probably would have asked him, but I never really met him face to face and when I saw him he was very busy. I know myself, when you are getting ready for a big race you don’t want to have too many distractions and be left alone.

ST: What did you think about Kona?

Lisa: I have never seen any race that big in terms of media and coverage and where every Pro got run down by lots of people every time they showed their faces in the main areas.

ST: Big difference compared to ITU Worlds?

Lisa: I went straight to Auckland right after Kona and I could see the differences, and it is huge. In short, Auckland was nothing compared to Kona. The hype is so much bigger in Kona, you have the whole age group build up and you have the media build up. For ITU you have bigger races all year around and thus the hype is not as big as Kona. The corporate things and the sponsor things (in Kona), I have never seen anything quite like it, it is almost like the Olympic Village gone Ironman.

ST: People often try to compare Olympics to Ironman Hawaii and sometimes brings up the question which one means more to win.

Lisa: I would much rather win the Olympics. The difference there is Kona is only for the triathlon family and everyone who is in Kona is there for the love of triathlon. When you go to the Olympics it is for the love of sports.

ST: Talking about love of sports you garnered quite a few awards along those lines back home in Sweden.

Lisa: Well, my grand slam of Swedish sports wards were, Female athlete of the year, performance of the year, achievement of the year and people’s choice of the year, plus I got voted best dressed at the gala.

ST: That is awesome indeed. Well thank you so much for the chat and don’t get blown around too much while on the bike in Fuerteventura.

Lisa: Ha, and you have a great day.

You can follow Lisa Norden on Twitter at @lisanorden

Image 2 in pool is courtesy of Catarina Axelsson