Ask a 2019 Zwift Academy Athlete anything!

Hey all,

Justin Lippert here, ZA TRI class of 2019. If you have any questions about the team, let me know! I’ll check back in a few days and answer :slight_smile: You can also always send me a DM on instagram @justin_lippert

Best of luck to all applying!


How does the team tackle a structured cycling workout and a structured running workout on the same day? Is there a mandatory rest period between them with food and shower? Or does one generally knock them out one after the other? Thanks!

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Once on the team, the team does not provide coaching services, so there are no structured team workouts throughout the year. This year all 8 athletes were working with different coaches not associated with Zwift. Occasionally throughout the year you will be asked to lead a cycling/running workout on zwift, but usually you get to set what you want the workout to be.

For me and my coach personally, 95% of the time we do not stack our sessions together. So if we have a structured cycling workout and run workout scheduled for the same day, there would be a rest period in between with food, rest, and ideally a shower.

Hope this answers your question.

Full Send,


Thanks very much!

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Thanks for taking the time to do this. I have two questions:

  1. How did the course at Kona compare to IMUK? I also raced at UK and you flew past me on the bike!

  2. Will you be doing a Kona race write up? Your IMUK one was excellent and I would be intrigued to hear your thoughts on Kona in the same open way.


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Hey Stephen,

Thanks for the kind words!

  1. Bike course at Kona was SO much easier. There is the “climb to Hawi”, however, if that “climb” was on the UK course it would be considered a small bump. The Kona course is a bunch of large rollers along the Queen K highway. You can keep momentum pretty well, and most of it is done in the big ring and seated, with the occasional need to switch to the small ring.
    For comparison sake, I had a pretty decent ride in the UK and went 5:43 I think. Compare to Kona, I had a sub-par ride and went ~5:03.

  2. Thank you, but I don’t think I will be doing a Kona write up. Just not much to write about honestly. The swim was the swim. My gluteus medius was tight and bothersome on the bike, which slowed me down a little bit. The run was fine (hot, had to slow my planned pace from 6:45 to 7:00 miles to adjust for the heat) until the halfway point, where my glutes were too painful to continue running. The second half of the marathon was a combination of walking and “hobbling” (between 10:00-12:00 pace per mile.) Once I started walking, my mindset shifted from “trying to win the race” to “let’s enjoy the day”.

Thanks for following along with me this year, hopefully I’ll see you out there one day!



What do I do if I don’t have a treadmill? Can I do the run workouts outside ? Or do I try taking Zwift to the gym?

I think Justin and Zwift would recommend to do a few run workouts on a treadmill. If you do 3/3/3 training
maybe one a week or every other week? The very least you would be familiar and be able to encourage the feature to family/friends. I know last year the requirement was Lvl 5 running. Idk what is the requirements this year.

Great idea setting this thread up! You definitely are going the extra mile. Do you have to have a big social media following? If anyone wants to follow my Zwift companion feel free lol.

Thank you
Evan Lardinois

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First off thank you for taking the time to answer all our questions here!

My question is: what do you think makes an ideal candidate for the team? Why do you think you and the others were chosen over the countless others (besides being wicked fast)?

It is possible to connect your phone to your footpod and run outside. This drains your battery life very fast! But you will need some type of run pod or Stryd. This is what I did to get to required level to qualify for the team last year.

However, it is definitely designed to be used on the treadmill and not outside.


The thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are those of my own and do not reflect the thoughts, words, or opinions of Zwift and/or any of its partners or subsidiaries!!!

I will answer this and @Evan_LARDINOIS question at the same time.

The ideal candidate definitely has to be “wicked fast”. That is like the first qualifier. This year they are going to take the top few hundred performers from the Tri Academy workouts and races to move on to the next step in the application process, where they will then look at results, have interviews, learn more about you, etc.

The goal of the team is to prove that Zwift is the premiere training platform, to qualify every one for Kona World Championships, and then perform well at Kona. So at the very least, they need to be very confident that you have the abilities to qualify for Kona.

Once they gather every body that is fast enough, they will then look at other factors to determine the finalists and pick the team of 6 athletes. These factors include but are not limited to:

  • Social Media presence (yes Evan, I have a somewhat large following. Nothing crazy though)

  • Ability to be a good ambassador for Zwift and all of the partners. i.e. the ability to influence others to sign up for Zwift

  • Location - If they are trying to break into a new geographical region, it would help if they picked an athlete from that region to spread awareness of Zwift.

  • Well spoken and look good on camera. The team relies heavily on social media “content”. You need to have the ability to speak well on camera and look good in the content.

  • Need to have the ability to create content. While they have a content team at camp and in Kona, for most of the year you are on your own and will have to submit your own videos and be able to produce your own content (at least to some extent)

  • Need to have a story. For example, I filled the story gap of being, “Young kid who has never done an Ironman moving up from short course to long course. With the help of Zwift, their partners, and the mentors, we gave the newbie what he needed to qualify for Kona on his very first try.”
    Alternatively, Ruth for example was coming back to Kona to defend her Age Group title from the year prior and trying to win over all. We all had a different, unique story.

  • Diversity. They are not going to pick 6 athletes all from the USA. They are not going to pick 6 male athletes. Realistically you are fighting for, at most, 1 gender spot from your country. They are also not going to pick conflicting age groups. So they will only pick, at most, one 30-34 year old male for the team. Get what I’m saying? (although having Levi and Philip in the same age group this year made for a good story, see previous bullet point)

Hopefully this helps!


Awesome! Great answer and thank you! Out of sheer curiosity, do you know/recall the ranges of abilities in that top 100? Such as what w/kg and 5k paces are they doing? I would bet 5 watts/kg at the low end and sub 5:15 pace for the 5k but that is just my shot from the hip.

I would also bet my tron bike that it will continue to get more competitive each year :slight_smile:

It’s not necessarily exactly 100, I was just throwing out a number. I am sure there is no “set standard” of specific numbers they are looking for.

What I do know, and what I can tell you is what I can do.

For running, my PR open 5k is 15:10, and I’ve ran a 31:50 10k off the bike in an olympic distance triathlon, and 1:12:30 off the bike in a 70.3.

For cycling, at 70kg, I have an FTP around 330 maybe? (4.71 w/kg), I’ve held 329 watts for a sprint distance bike leg, 307 watts for Olympic distance bike leg, 270 watts for 70.3 (2018) and 240 (NP, very hilly) at Ironman UK.

Hopefully that satisfies your curiosity for numbers. Again this is just what I do. I would imagine that Zwift does not have any hard and fast numbers they are looking for.

But remember, numbers are not everything. While I possess these numbers, I was 976th place overall at Kona


Jeez those are impressive numbers! I’ll pack my bags
now :sob::sob::sob::sob::joy::joy::joy:

Don’t pack up just yet! With enough training on Zwift, anything is possible :muscle:


Cheers mate, I’ll give it a good go.

Pack your bags…to kona that is :slight_smile:

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I don’t think So! :joy::joy: With a lot of training !!! A lot more… and again a bit more by night and maybe it will be… just a lot of fun!

Zwift Academy Tri is a dream for all of us, thanks @Justin_ull_Send_Tria to share every one of this tips…
of course it will be more competitive every year… this 2019 Academy team was a Dream Team (what a level! And such an exciting goosebump looking at every video update:star_struck:!)
We all know that to be a member of 2020 will be as difficult (or even more) to qualify than Kona !! Let’s have a try! :wink:
Thanks again mr Justin and #RideOn for your 2020 season !!!

@Justin_ull_Send_Tria what level of send should I put into IMFL next weekend?