Training so far…

I apologize in advance if this post is a bit long winded and tedious.  It will not involve any pictures of dinosaurs (I think I was high on caffeine the other night!), but instead will bore you silly with lots of facts and figures about my training so far.  Some of our cycling and triathlon related friends might find it interesting however… And who knows, maybe this post will inspire you into doing an Ironman yourself!  Ok, maybe not.

Before a training rideSome people have asked me how much training have I done so far?  I only managed to get this blog up and running a couple of weeks ago, so it may look like I’ve only just started to train!  Fortunately for me, I was a bit more organized on the training front than I was with this blog.

I entered Ironman Switzerland last October and started training properly for it in January.  It’s important to get the timing right.  It’s obvious what will happen if you start too late: you just won’t be fit enough to finish the event.  On the other hand, if you start training too early then it is very possible that you will “burn out” before the day of the big event: you will lose motivation, feel constantly tired, get run down, and maybe even fall ill.

It’s important to take an event like this seriously and train with discipline.  This is a big problem for me as I am possibly the least disciplined person I know! 🙂  Normally I get too excited in spring and completely over-cook it and lose interest by May (the burn out I was talking about above!).  For the Ironman I needed to be self-disciplined – so I wrote myself out a training plan based on Joe Friel’s book “The Triathlete’s Training Bible“.  We have used the similarly named Cyclist’s Training Bible by the same author and highly recommend either book to people interested in a no-fuss approach to self-coaching.

Using the guidelines set out in the book I set myself a training scheduled based on the theory of “periodization“: I would train for 3 weeks and then take a single week of rest and recovery (R&R). This 4 week block would then be repeated, with each block building upon the previous (i.e. increasing the quantity), something like this:

  • Base 1: 10 hours, 12 hours, 13 hours, 7 hours (R&R)
  • Base 2: 11 hours, 13 hours, 14 hours, 7 hours (R&R)
  • Base 3: 12 hours, 14 hours, 15 hours, 7 hours (R&R)

After a runOnce I got to base 3 I more or less kept the amount of hours the same for subsequent 4 week blocks.  I have only used these weekly hours as a motivation.  Many weeks, due to one thing and another, I would not be able to do the correct number of hours and on some weeks I’d hardly do any, for example most of March and the start of April were wiped out with a bad sinus infection.  The main aim of the plan is to put a “cap” on the number of hours: they act as more of a limit than a target.  It’s all too easy to have a bad week of training due to work or family or sickness only to bounce back the following week and try and make up for it by doing twice as many hours.

Each week follows the same pattern of training:

  • Monday: R&R day – short spin on the bike of 30 – 60 minutes
  • Tuesday: Short hard run and an easy recovery ride on the bike
  • Wednesday: Swim
  • Thursday: Short hard bike and an easy recovery run
  • Friday: Swim
  • Saturday: Long bike
  • Sunday: Long run (I do the long run the day after the bike to avoid having sore legs on my long bike ride)

Well that’s the theory.  In reality of course it doesn’t quite work like that!  In particular, I’m not the biggest fan of swimming, so normally I just do the Wednesday swim and skip swimming on the Friday, instead choosing to rest before the weekend’s big sessions and just do a light spin on the bike.

Up until now I estimate that I’ve done the following amount of training:

  • Swim: 25 hours (my biggest session so far was 2000m in one go)
  • Bike: 170 hours (5000km at an average of approximately 30kph)
  • Run: 80 hours

This works out at a total of about 275 hours or about 12 hours per week (bearing in mind that I did very little in March – April due to illness).

So there you have it!  More statistics than you could ever want to know or be interested in.  I almost feel fitter just having written it all down! 🙂

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