Meet Ailie Coulter, an endurance athlete whose self-described likes include running, swimming, surfing, riding, reading, socializing and red wine.
But if we’re being totally honest, that list is a bit misleading — or, rather, it’s correct in that Ailie strives to live a balanced life…but it just doesn’t do justice to her focus, work ethic and the all-out guts she’s got that have allowed her to accomplish great things.
How? Well, first you’ve gotta familiarize yourself with Ultraman, which is basically an Ironman triathlon (140.6 miles: 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bikes ride and 26.2-mile run) DOUBLED. And then tack on another, oh, 40 miles or so for good measure.
That’s right; we’re talking 320 miles total, including a 6.2-mile swim and a 261.4-mile bike ride followed by a 52.4-mile double-marathon run. Put simply, it’s a race that’s “challenged and defeated the world’s fittest athletes for nearly three decades,” as aptly described by Triathlete magazine.
And second, all you need to know is that Ailie placed second at Ultraman Australia last year (watch the video about it here), which means she’s been invited to compete at Ultraman World Championships in Hawaii this year.
The prospect of undertaking (and crushing!) this kind of endurance feat — one that takes stamina, heart and determination to a whole new level — blows my mind. So, needless to say, it was an honor to take a few minutes with Ailie (a fellow Coeur Sports ambassador) to find out what makes this incredible woman tick!
1. What’s your favorite route or workout? Think that would have to be long-distance trail running. Nothing better than getting out of the city early morning, alone, in nature and experiencing all the different seasons. Normally start in fog and can’t see a meter in front of you and by the end of a 4-5 hour run session you have wolfed down all the food in your pack and replaced it with the layers of clothing you have taken off as the day has heated up!
2. What shoes do you wear — both on the bike and on the roads? Running: Used to wear Asics but then they changed them and made the toe box really small and I started losing toe nails and getting horrid blisters. Then Pearl Izumi introduced their run collection a few years ago, and they made the toes wider than the heel and it is the best thing to happen to the world of running!!
No more foot problems; I went and bought four pair in case they never made them again. Doesn’t have to be Pearl Izumi (although they are my favorite, support, cushioning, colors, etc.) as long as it has a large toe box, meaning it doesn’t taper off small and pointy and your toes can be free to spread out in the shoe each foot strike.
Bike: I wear Specialized S-Works road shoe, as they look the goods and make me feel pro. Also super comfy and can buy a pair new and feel like I have had them for years. Would happily knock out a 200k ride in a brand new pair with no issues. Before these I used to get hot feet, pins and needles, etc.
3. What other training gear can’t you live without? SOCKS!!! I have a bit of a sock obsession and love to sock dope on the bike. Bright, kit-matching, etc. on the bike, and I’m loving the MAAP range at the moment. Sometimes you gotta look good doing what you do!
4. What’s your best time-saver or “workout-hack?” Hill sprints, running or riding and swim sprints. You can get an awesome work out in half an hour!
5. What part of each discipline (swim/bike/run) are you better at than anyone else? Swim: Rough water, everybody else complains when the swell picks up and there is white wash, I fist pump the weather gods.
Ride: Um… my socks look the best.
Run: I’m a diesel engine. A lot of people use this as an excuse to go slow; I can just maintain my consistent pace for a really really long time.
Overall, I’m not really better than others at any of these things; I think I just know how to hurt more than others and love it.
6. What do you listen to while training? I often don’t listen to anything. I have a hugely hectic life with lots of responsibility and training is my switch-off time. I like to take in the world around me, it’s almost meditative and leads my mind in so many cool places that I don’t want to take that away with music. For gym sessions, love a bit of Presets or something with a heavy beat that makes me feel like I can dominate the world.
7. What are you currently training for? Ultraman Wold Champs in Hawaii in November. Will try to save some $$ and probably not enter any events in the lead up but will throw in a few big 3-4 day training camps where I completely punish myself in the hills. That way I can include a bit of time away with the man and friends and training partners, too, as its not all-consuming like racing can be.
8. What are your recovery and sleep routines like? They are more crucial than any training I could do! I ensure I get 8 hours sleep; the moment I cut this, I start to have issues with hormones and cortisol levels, which leads to getting sick, sinus infections, fatigue or injury, which leads to less training. So if I have had to work longer hours or have an important social function, I tell the coach in advance so we can plan around it.
For females, especially, this is absolutely crucial in being able to train consistently. In terms of recovery, in high-volume weeks my coach and I schedule in an afternoon power-nap between work and my arvo session; if my long ride goes for 8 hours, I tack on another two when making social plans so I have time to got home, make real food and have an hour of couch time before doing anything. Nutrition is a big part of all of this.
So many female athletes can’t figure out why they are constantly sick or injured, and it is all because of hormone imbalances in the body. If you want to train consistently, we need to remember that we have three sources of stress in our lives as athletes: mental (work, relationships, finances, etc.) physical (training or other work-related physical strain) and nutritional (what we put in that our body needs to deal with).
If I have a family issue, I will dial down my training and eat perfectly. If I am eating horrible and for some reason including alcohol, I can’t be stressed at work and high-volume training. Given we can’t often control the mental stress, it is the nutritional and training stress that we need to modify when we can not control the mental.
9. What’s the best athletic advice you’ve ever received? Consistency is key!!
10. What’s your favorite racing-related memory? Would have to be Ultraman Australia in 2015. I finally did what I went out to achieve. We spend so many years in this sport and put so much pressure on ourselves to perform, but the hard fact is that so many external factors out of our control can impact the result. At this race, I finally got it right and it was the best feeling in the world.
11. Fill in the blank: I’d love to grab a workout with ______. My friends!!!
12. Anything else you’d like to add? Life can sometimes be challenging; find out what makes you happy, and make that your priority. No matter what it is, find it and own it and smile your way through life.
Thanks, Ailie! Not only do you exemplify #heartandcourage, but you’re a true inspiration for everyone to get up, get out and get moving. We’ll be rooting for you at this year’s Ultraman World Championships!
Friends, if you’re interested in being featured here (all levels & abilities welcome), please drop me a line at info(at)kineticfix(dot)com.