“Endurance sports are all about recovery– that’s the beautiful part of it. Anyone can do one session, but can you do the session tomorrow, the day after that, or the month after that? That’s what recovery helps you do, and that’s what I’ll be monitoring with Oura once I kick off my 2-year journey to breaking a new record.”
Richard is a business owner, father of three, and professional ultra triathlete from Australia who’s been using Oura for about a year now.
Richard Sets A World Record
“For some background, ultra triathlon events are held around the world throughout the year. An ultra triathlon consists of 3 days of events:
- A 6.2-mile swim followed immediately by a 90-mile bike on the first day.
- A 180-mile bike ride on the second.
- And a double marathon, so 52 miles of running, on the third.
That’s the race.”
You may have a picture in mind of athletes going through the event stopping at a water station, as they would during a marathon or triathlon, but an ultra triathlon is a different beast.
“Unlike triathlon, in ultra triathlons, there are no aid stations or support. You are allowed to amass a team of four to be in a support car that drives along with you when you need water, food, etc. So who you put in that car is really important. And I simply have the greatest team you could possibly imagine.”
So, as if the event wasn’t hard enough, Richard had to plan his training and construct his team perfectly.
But that didn’t stop Richard from delivering a record-breaking performance.
“In 2017, we went to the Australian competition, not really knowing what we were doing, and we broke the world record time for that course.”
Richard the World Champion
Immediately after breaking the record in Australia, a new feeling began to occupy Richard’s mind: He could do better.
“I did the record-breaking run injured, so part of me felt that I had more to give. I was curious about how much I could push my body on a physical level, so we made the decision to go to Hawaii, to the world championships, let’s try to replicate everything we did at home in Australia.”
And we said everything, he meant everything. In the last race he had his core 4, but to really make the difference he had to expand his traveling team by a bit more.
“My core crew from the last race, our amazing cook, my masseuse, my wife, my kids, everyone had to be there in Hawaii. The rule was anyone who touched that weekend in Australia had to be there.”
The world championships were being held in November 2018, so he had about a year to get ready to beat his best on the biggest stage, but it wasn’t going to be easy.
“When I got to Hawaii, they had a welcome ceremony for the event, and I met an athlete from Colorado. He had won the race the year before, the defending champion.
My first thought was ‘Wow he looks crazy fit.’ My second thought was ‘He’s here to win – what happens if he beats me?.’
The year before, this guy had won by shedding30 minutes off his double marathon time 40 minutes faster than my fastest time if he pulled it off.”
Well, Richard’s results said otherwise.
“After day 2, we’d been racing for 15 hours and I was only 20 minutes ahead of him. Then comes the double marathon on day 3 and he came in at 7:40 but I came in at 6:50. I was the world champion and our Hawaii crew won by almost an hour to second place!”
Richard, Oura, Fatherhood, & A New Challenge
After crossing the finish line at the world championships, Richard’s first thought was far different than the one he had in Australia a year prior.
“My next thought after finishing was, ‘This is amazing, but it’s too much sacrifice. I simply lost too much family time throughout the process.’ My second child had been born in June 2018, and the race was in November, so I basically did the last 6 months of training when my wife was either heavily pregnant or trying to raise a newborn without much help. I just bit off too much.”
So, he did what he had not even thought about doing before: stop.
“At that stage, I was officially retired from ultra triathlon competition – I got rid of everything in the garage, apart from a pair of running shoes!”
However, 12 months after being crowned world champion, Richard started to prepare to do the impossible, while spending a good portion of his time with his wife, who was preparing to give birth to their third child, and their two children.
“The thought was simple – how fast could we go over the Ultraman distance. So the goal was set – want to break my current world record time of 21 hours 21min, and see what is humanly possible over this insane distance – I want to break 20 hours. And as such, started the Kanguru Sub 20 Project!”
When it comes to training, the prep and early stages are key. That’s where Richard is now. So how would he be able to improve on his record-breaking performances? By finding an edge that others aren’t really employing. That edge? Sleep and recovery.
“The big race we are trying to do was meant to be in 2021, but because of COVID and other family factors, we’ve moved it to May 2022. I had almost two years to train now, and what’s different this time? I have Oura.
Having the Oura Ring during these early times is awesome. It’s helping me get the groundwork laid down, but where I think it will really shine is during my training peak.
With Oura, I’m not just the athlete sitting in a hyperbaric chamber, or sleeping by myself in an empty flat where I have complete control over most things in my environment. I classify myself as a high-performance athlete, trying to do something that no one else has ever done or thought was possible over an exceptionally long racing period, but I am also a business owner (T:Zero Multisport Coaching) and a father of 3 young kids. There are a lot of balls in the air that is for sure. But thanks to Oura Ring and our sponsors Kanguru, Cervelo, Wahoo Fitness, BMW Australia, Ener-C SPORT, Zen Spray, and SRM– we have the team in place to get the job done!”
Using Oura To Get That Extra Edge
Oura has empowered Richard to incorporate a new aspect to his training: Recovery.
“With Oura, I take an important step: being conscious of my sleep and recovery. Tracking my sleep and the variables that I can control over the next 2 years, is going to be of significant benefit. I’m known to my friends and family as the guy who can sleep anywhere—any surface, any time of the day or night. But I used to always operate on a low 5 hours of sleep, and I never really knew how important sleep was to overall performance.”
Above, a good night – below, a poor night sleep.
Shared Via Oura on the Web
With Oura helping him stay on top of his health, sleep, and recovery, Richard has some backup. If he can be consistently informed of how his body is doing, he can focus more of his energy on his growing family, while optimizing his training over the next 2 years.
“Pushing the race another 12-24 months, could not only really do some good as far as my family and work, but also maximize my performance and overall readiness. I thought ‘with that much time to train, I could break 20 hours, while not being in a time crunch.’ That would be almost an hour and a half less than my world record time, and that’s my new goal.”
Richard has his Oura Ring wrapped around his finger as he starts his new journey, and he’ll have it with him when he’s holding his newborn child, taking his two eldest children to the park, on a date with his wife, on the training course, and on his way to breaking 20 hours.
You can follow Richard on his journey on Instagram @richardthompsontriathlon.
What Excites Richard About Oura
- “Listening. I’m excited to start listening and looking at my stats, like Readiness, Sleep, and HRV. Being receptive to, or even conveniently having, data like this was not something I had in my arsenal in the past, and I’m ready for it to make the difference.”
- “Learning. The next step with Oura is learning how to wake up, see my data, and quickly pivot. If my stats aren’t looking too good, I have to get in the habit of quickly changing so I prioritize recovery in addition to training.”
- “Knowing. We are all in a holding pattern right now because, as I’m speaking to you, my wife has recently given birth to our 3rd child! But I’m using the time to get to bed way more rested than normal, and monitoring it with Oura. Once the training ramps back up, I’m excited to check the Oura app and see what’s different.”
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