Fit File: Pro-Triathlete Ethan Brown

Fit Werx had the opportunity to work directly with one of the fastest pro triathletes in the U.S. this past season. At the young age of 24, Ethan Brown’s triathlon resume already includes two U23 national champion titles, elite nationals podium, and of course a dominating record in premier New England short course triathlons. While Ethan’s main goals are set on making the 2012 Olympic team, he’s also tested himself in a number of the prestigious non-drafting races in the U.S.

We started our work with Ethan at the conclusion of his 2009 racing season. We reviewed his race history with emphasis on the bike and how well he ran off the bike. We went over his bike power files in both training and races and concluded that he had great potential on the bike that hadn’t yet been realized. While Ethan’s race resume was already impressive, our goal was to help him get more bike speed out of an already great engine.

With a number of non-drafting professional races on Ethan’s 2010 schedule, our focus during his fitting session was simple: Position Ethan in as aerodynamic position as possible without sacrificing power, and make sure he’s riding the fastest equipment possible given his race goals.  Considering he planned to cap the season off with his first 70.3, we also had to make sure the position is sustainable for the 2+ hour bike in the aerobars and all the long training days that go with it.

We were very excited with the final position on the bike and looked forward to his 2010 racing season. His saddle height was adjusted to a height that optimized power. Hip flexion at the top of the pedal stroke was monitored closely to ensure he maintained power in his major hip flexor muscles and minimized problems that have crept up in the past in that area. We adjusted his aerobar height, fore-aft position, extension tilt, and pad width until we found a front end position that not only kept his hands and neck relaxed, but positioned him very aerodynamically. His head is inline with his torso. A TT helmet will gently roll into the high point in his middle back. The top of his forearms are parallel to the ground in an aerobar position that allows his hands and neck to relax. We took advantage of his lean stature and positioned his elbows so they perfectly shelter the widest points of his knees at the top of the pedal stroke while maintaining enough elbow pad width for comfortable breathing and a relaxed neck that keeps his head low.

Left is old position. Right is Ethan’s new position. Note the greater leg extension and more aerodynamic front end position.

Left is old position. Right is Ethan’s new position. Special attention was focused on maintaining an adequate hip flexion angle for optimal power production.

While Ethan’s position on the bike makes the biggest impact on aerodynamics, his choice of equipment will also play a role in his performance on the bike. For those that haven’t noticed, Ethan has been scorching the bike courses on a new Parlee TT this season that fits his position like a glove.

Ethan’s 2010 season has concluded, and a review of his race results showed big improvements on the bike. He suffered from crashes in a couple early season races, but truly showed his non-drafting race potential once the summer hit.

Marlborough Triathlon – This premier New England race draws a number of area elites and serves as a great year over year comparison for Ethan since he also raced it last year. While he won the race last year, he gave up the lead on the bike and started the run a minute down. This year Ethan led the race from start to finish. It’s tough to draw much from year-over-year splits because of different conditions, but he improved his bike split on the hilly and technical course and ran faster off the bike in 2010.

Gloucester Triathlon is another premier New England short course race which in 2010 drew a number of pro triathletes and the usual fast locals. Ethan won the race in 2009, but gave up his big swim lead on the bike and came into T2 in 3rd place. He then made up the 2 minute deficit on the run to win the race. The 2010 race was a completely different story. Ethan led from start to finish this time. He led the swim, held off the entire field on the bike, and started the run with a healthy lead that allowed him to cruise to an easy victory of several minutes over the 25-person elite field racing that day.

Miami 70.3 was Ethan’s first career attempt at the Half Ironman distance. We made an adjustment to his position on the bike the week before the race to emphasize comfort and sustainability given the few opportunities he’d had to spend 2 hours in the aerobars at that point. He ended up finishing 5th overall despite suffering late in the run from nutrition issues caused by unstaffed aid stations on the bike course that hurt a number of pro triathletes that day. Ethan felt so good on the bike that he was stronger the 2nd half than the first half according to his power file. He felt great starting out on the run and was on a pace for a 1:15 split before his body shut down late in the run and cost him a few overall places. Kudos to Ethan for suffering through those last few miles and holding on to 5th overall. Next year we look forward to seeing what’s possible when he’s able to actually drink at the aid stations!

Fit Werx is proud to work with athletes of Ethan’s caliber and look forward to seeing him build off this season’s results in 2011. You can read more about Ethan’s races and training on his website www.ebrownracing.com.

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