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A Kona build with a difference – Sarah True ‘balancing training, studies and being a mom’

A Kona build with a difference – Sarah True ‘balancing training, studies and being a mom’

Every woman who lines up on the start line in Kona this weekend will appreciate just how much hard work has gone into reaching the IRONMAN World Championship.

But few will know better than American Sarah True, and as she herself said recently on Instagram: “This Kona build has looked a bit different. A 5am wake-up and early sessions are the only way I can balance my training with school, my hospital practicum, and the little guy.

“With so much on my plate, I feel so grateful for the help that I’m getting from the people around me.”

And one of those key people assisting her juggle training with motherhood and her studies is long-time coach Dan Lorang, who has helped her step up from short-course racing (she was fourth at the London Olympics in 2012 as Sarah Groff), and return to training after starting a family.

‘Chapeau’ for that

Her IRONMAN debut came in July 2018 when she was second in Frankfurt and just three months later she would go onto take fourth on her bow at Kona.

Two return visits to the Big Island have proved challenging but she’s won her last three IRONMANs – Lake Placid and Arizona last season, plus Frankfurt this year.

Sarah True of the United States of America react after crossing the finish line of the IRONMAN European Championship Frankfurt on July 02, 2023 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Photo by Jan Hetfleisch/Getty Images for IRONMAN

And her coach is full of admiration for what she’s already achieved, Lorang telling us: “I have huge respect for Sarah, who is basically still a professional athlete and tries to put everything in, but also has the other side of doing her studies and being a mom.

So trying to manage a normal life and an athlete’s life. ‘Chapeau’ for that.

“She’s there with ambitions, has still been able to make progress in the last month and for sure she wants to do a strong race in Kona.

“But to be there and be competitive is already the first victory. Because some other girls, they have the possibility to recover and relax between the sessions, and do everything that is necessary to be ready for the next one. But basically Sarah is moving from a session to being a mom, studies and all that stuff, though she has great support from the family.

“We all know that there are age-groupers out there working a lot, training a lot. So basically trying this, but now Sarah is doing it at a higher level. But still, I think she can really feel now what these people are doing out there.”

And that was echoed by True herself when she was asked by Bob Babbitt on ‘Breakfast With Bob’ how she finds time for training: “You could ask that same question of the 2,000 women who are here. You find time for the things you love and while I would love to have four more hours a day, unfortunately I don’t!”

Focus on bike gains

In terms of aims and ambitions for Kona, both True and Lorang have a clear objective, with the latter saying: “Here we have one big goal, that she can bring her bike performance really to the fore, because she is better in training than she is sometimes in the race. And that’s something we’ve tried to work on with a different approach to the race.”

True is in the top 10 of the PTO’s swim rankings and leading 20 for the run, but currently sits outside the top 50 on the bike.

Lorang hopes that will soon start to change, explaining: “After the PTO Asian Open in August we identified that the bike performance is not quite where it should be – it’s not that it’s not there because we’ve seen it in training. So it’s about probably finding the right way to get her ready for the race day there.

“We’ll try to change a little bit, and we’ve seen that she can still win races, that she’s competitive. So now let’s see what she can do in this field.”

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