Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Advice for the Iron Year

Derek, husband of Dianne who visited us last summer, and multiple Ironman, was kind enough to offer some training advice to me, based on his review of my preliminary plans. I thought his advice was so fabulous and to-the-point that I asked him if it was all right to share it with all of you, and he kindly agreed.

"I think you're clearly on the right track with what you've put together, and by even making a plan you are way past many of your fellow competitors. I have some comments / suggestions on it; please accept them as just that; suggestions, bearing in mind that I am making them with no knowledge of your goals or current skills."

"Swimming 2 days per week is enough to maintain your current skill level, but won't really help you to improve. At this point I would look at bumping that up to 3 times per week (initially at 40 mins per workout) Eventually you'll want to get to at least one workout per week where you are swimming 1.5 miles or more (e.g. w/u, 800 yds skills drills, 4 x 600 yds endurance, c/d) and your swim hours will naturally increase, but now is a great time to focus on the roll, breathing, and body position to get your swimming as efficient as possible, and you don't need long workouts for that training. More and short are in fact better!"

"Cycling is the biggest part of an Ironman, but most people don't realize that it isn't the cycling strength that will make or break your race, it is the nutrition and hydration required to support the cycling. Most of my cycling workouts are 60 minute to 120 minute ones, where I do some pedaling drills, but mostly I work on leg speed. Very little resistance, and fast fast cadence. Gosh, just like the pros ride in the Tour de France. If I have a four bike workout week, I'll probably do 2 speed sets (at 90 to 120 minutes), one hills set (another 90 minutes or so) and then one long ride (100+ km) where the object of the ride is more to practice taking in food and water and gels and sport drink or to survive riding 8 hours in a monsoon. The long rides aren't really about building bike strength at all. So, start with short sets where you are trying to get to 90 or faster cadence, and after a couple of months, start to add in the long weekend rides once the weather gets better and you can safely get outside for 3 or 4 hours. Another trick is to only ride in your little (or maybe middle) front chain ring until you've got 600 miles of training in. That will force you to ride with that faster cadence / lower resistance."

"Running is the sport that will get you hurt in your training. As such, I'm partial to the less is more running theory, and would rather gain the aerobic fitness from the fast spin sets on the bike, not where the impact of running is ripping my muscles apart. You still need to do some long runs, and brick workouts are excellent too; there is nothing like a 30 minute run after a 60 mile bike ride to make you appreciate the bike!"

"I don't see weights / core on your sheet, although you do note core training as a part of your macrocycle #2. Follow Joe Friel's plan (from the Triathlete's Training Bible) for 2 workouts a week, and add in one big core set, or several smaller (daily?) sets. You'll see from Friel's book he really only gets you to do a leg press, seated row, knee lift/hamstring curl, and lat pulldown (+ core) So a couple of 40 minute sets are fine for that."

Then he had some commentary on a fabulous training spreadsheet that he set up for me, which I'm omitting because IT'S MY SECRET WEAPON TO BEAT ELLIE. ;-)

"Two other suggestions. One would be to take the week after the Steelman Half almost right off - (just core and swimming skills workouts) You won't lose your fitness, and the week off will do a lot to prevent burnout and allow some additional rest and recovery for your muscles. The second would be to then go down to Florida for the week after that and do an Ironcamp where you swim, bike, and run on the actual course. Take the week off work (so you have lots of recovery time) and over 6 days do 3 swims (at least one of which is over the whole 2.4 mile course ie 2 laps), 2 runs (do at least one full loop of the run course ie 13.1 miles) 3 weights sets, and 4 rides (full course, 100 miles, 60 miles, & 2 hours high cadence) You're at 12 weeks out then, which is a great time to do that type of high intensity week, and you'll "know" the course for November."

"Hope this helps, or at least gives you some useful ideas."


Comm's said...

a mini camp in Florida, I think i could swing that and bring Mistress and Mo along with my mom and I get past that tricky hooker comment I mentioned on my blog today.

Keryn said...

Awesome tips! I like the idea of visiting the course a ways in advance. It will give you a real live view of the race and the confidence that you can handle it since you've actually trained on it.

Iron Benny said...

Wow, those are great comments. I wish I had the money to travel to my Ironman destination twice. It's hard enough to get one trip in there. Anyway, thanks for sharing this with us.