Heather Wurtele’s 2012 season was filled with some frustrating lows. At Ironman Coeur d’Alene in June, she was leading the race until she had a mechanical debacle that turned into a disqualification at mile 21 of the run. She turned around to validate her Kona slot at Ironman Frankfurt only two weeks later, then in Kona, she raced while on antibiotics as a result of a saddle sore gone wrong. All things considered, a 14th-place finish wasn’t bad last year, but Wurtele knew she could do better.
Thankfully this year has been better. She went back to win Coeur d’Alene and set a course record; she won Rev3 Quassy, Ironman 70.3 Calgary, Ironman 70.3 Panama and took third at Ironman 70.3 St. George. Wurtele—who famously lives and travels the country in an RV with her pro husband Trevor—feels like everything actually went according to plan this year and is hopeful about her race this weekend.
So what was her key to success this year?
“I think a big thing that is really important to your development as an athlete in general is to be focused on the process,” Wurtele says. “Know that it takes a long time in endurance sports, in Ironman especially.”
“People say, ‘You’re running so fast now, that’s awesome!’ but it’s because I’ve been working at it for four years,” she says. “Doing double runs three times a week and constantly trying to be very aware of running form and being very cognizant all the time. A lot of people just go through the motions. They have a big race goal and they’re focused on that, but they’re not focused on every day—what little thing can I be doing to be better at this workout?”
“Getting involved in that progression as well as the details is really important. Sometimes races don’t go as planned but that doesn’t mean you’re not progressing. Those little improvements are small, and incremental, and you may swim thousands of more yards in the pool for one minute back. But really focusing on the process has really worked for me.”