High 5 Thursday Ironman Triathlete Tara Norton

Posted on 18 November 2010

Each week we highlight a specific endurance sports athlete and profile their background, specific race performances and offer insight on training and sport discipline expertise.


RT: Tell us a little about yourself, where do you live and train?

TN: My name is Tara Norton and I am a Canadian Professional Ironman Triathlete.  I am 39 years old and I live and train in Toronto except when I travel (especially in the cold winter months) to do training camps elsewhere.  Places I like to train include:  Arizona, Florida, California and Hawaii.

RT: What do you do for a living?  And what is your average training hours per week?

TN:  In addition to being a Professional Ironman Triathlete I am also a Multisport Coach at Absolute Endurance Training and Therapy (www.absoluteendurance.com) as well as a Part-Time Massage Therapist.  (Phew!)  My average training hours per week varies depending on the time of year and whether or not I am doing a focused training camp.  My training hours range from 16-20 hours up to 30+ hours per week, and over 50 hours when I attend an Epic Camp (www.epicwomancamp.com and www.epiccamp.com)!

RT: Give us an example of one of your favorite workouts?

TN: I love doing hard Computrainer workouts.  The workout I did this morning was 1:40 total with a main set of 2 x 8mins hard, 4mins easy in-between, 3 x 4mins hard, 2mins easy in-between, 4 x 2mins hard, 1min easy in-between with some spin-ups for warm up and some 1-legged drills to finish.  I also love my intense run workouts with my coach and her running group (www.nicolestevenson.ca) because running with others is the best way to have an intense interval workout.

RT: What do you enjoy the most with racing and training in endurance sports?

TN: Most definitely I love the fact that endurance sports like Ironman have such a huge mental component.  I love the feeling of pushing my limits both physically and mentally (even though at times I wonder why I do this crazy sport J) and I love the lifestyle that comes along with it.

RT: Do you have written race goals and keep a training diary and if so, please describe?

TN: I do have written race goals, thanks to my mental coach, Etienne (www.mentalcoach.ca) who gives me this exercise as homework!  I log all my training in an Excel file and I use Training Peaks with my athletes.

RT: How long have you been racing in endurance sports?

TN: I did my first Ironman in 2001 and there has been no stopping me ever since.  I have completed 21 full Ironman races since that time.

RT: What is your specific discipline focus?

TN: The bike is definitely my strength and has been since the get go.  I remember my first triathlon where I couldn’t wipe the ear to ear grin off my face as I did the bike leg.

RT: What is your favorite race, location?

TN: I love Ironman Lanzarote.  Part of Spain, the volcanic island of Lanzarote is one of the Canary Islands located off the North West coast of Africa.  It is known as the ‘toughest Ironman in the world’ and has 9000 feet of climbing on the bike.

RT: How many races do you participate in during the year?

TN: I try to do three to four Ironman races in a season.  I also do a couple half iron distance triathlons, of which Savageman in Maryland is by far my favourite!

RT: How many races do you “peak” for during the year?

Tina NOrton

TN: I will peak for two to three full Ironman races in a season.  As part of my training to peak for these races I travel to warmer places in the wintertime to do high volume training camps.

RT: What was your all time best race performance?

TN: My best performance was a 2nd place at Ironman Lanzarote (after dislocating my shoulder in the swim).  And my top finish at the Hawaii Ironman World Championship race is 12th place.

RT: What are your thoughts regarding mental performance training?

TN: Mental training is vital to achieving success in endurance sports which is a reason that I have a mental coach in addition to my triathlon and running coaches.  We do weekly sessions which have helped me tremendously in my triathlon and life endeavours.  I have worked to use my mental strength to achieve my goals, stay positive and move beyond challenges that have come my way.

RT: What races are on your dream list?

TN: Ultraman Hawaii!!!!

RT: Any personal Mantra or famous quote?


RT: What is your most recent or favorite book that you have read, any subject and related to endurance sports?

TN: I just read Matthew Long’s book, ‘The Long Run’, which is definitely related to endurance sports.  It is such an honest, inspiring and moving read that I highly recommend it!  I am also reading ‘Born to Run’.

RT: What magazines/publications related to your sport discipline that you subscribe?

TN: I subscribe to Triathlon Magazine Canada as well as Inside Triathlon.

RT: What is your greatest strength during a race?

TN: Bike for sure.  This year I broke Paula Newby Frazer’s Lanzarote bike course record J

RT: What topics are of greatest interest for you that we might include in a future RaceTwitch Club Meetup, ex: race nutrition, functional training, specific race reviews, etc.

TN: Training with heart rate AND power (on the bike), as well as the importance of mental training.  I think both are extremely beneficial to achieving your best results.

RT: What training and race nutrition products do you use regularly?

TN: I use and love GU, especially GU Chomps.  I like the flavor of the GU electrolyte drink and liking the taste is rudimentary to staying hydrated which results in a good race day.

RT: What do you do to maintain your fitness post race season?

TN: I tend to do more yoga (Moksha hot yoga) in the off season but I do continue my swim, bike and run workouts, just at lesser volume and intensity.

RT: Have you planned your race calendar for next year? If so, what are some of the races and your goals?

TN: I am coaching Epic Woman camp in April in Kona, Hawaii.  This is my next planned event.  At Epic Woman, we will have eight days of incredible training where we push our limits along side other like-minded athletes and gain invaluable base fitness to set us up for the season to come.

RT: Any words of wisdom or advice you would offer to improve quality of training and race performance?

TN: Listen to your body.  This is a skill that is invaluable!  It is better to skip one workout rather than three months with an injury that could have been prevented.

RT: How can people get connect with you further?

TN: tnorton.rmt@rogers.com is my email address.  www.taranorton.com is my website.  www.epicwomancamp.com is the epic woman website, but women interested in the camp can email me directly.  www.absoluteendurance.com is the center where I coach.

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