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Thursday, January 22, 2009

A letter to John

I originally wrote this as an email to John in response to a question he had about my training and schedule. I rambled off topic quite a bit and in the end thought it would make a good post.

From John: "... so how many workouts do you get in every week? I'm going to try and work up to 9: 3 swim, 2 bike, 2 run, 2 strength training, with a little yoga sprinkled in there too. if you start your training day at 4:45 am there should be plenty of room to get all of those in! i gotta admit, your comment has pushed me to get started earlier. ... "

Lately my schedule has been 4 swims of 3km each, 5 runs including a threshold run of a little over an hour with 800m repeats within as well as one long run of 90 minutes, another 1 hour run and a few shorter runs. Cycling has been between 7 and 8 hours per week. Sometimes it takes me 5 or 6 rides to get all these unless I can schedule a 2 hour + ride. I have some leeway with my training plan right now (I won't have this luxury this summer) so I can get in the bike time by breaking it up. If I stuck to the plan it would be more like 4 rides with the shortest being 90 minutes.

I'm no coach but here's my take on how you should be training in this time of year if you are building toward an ironman race ...

The idea is to get the body used to the volume and frequency of the training load. It REALLY is all about consistency at this time of year. I'm not saying that everything is "base" or "zone 2" work. That does not work ... you must have some intensity (hence the threshold running, group roadie rides, and big gear intervals on the trainer). At this time of year it's about consistency and building endurance and strength. These are the keys of handling high volume work later in the season that includes intensity.

A couple of my rules of thumb ...

I never go longer than 90 minutes on a trainer (enforced by the coach). Also, 90-100% of my running is NOT on pavement or cement. According to my coach, most elite ironman triathletes rarely run on the road. This is evidenced in Mark V latest post from camp on the big island. It's just too taxing for the amount of volume required. Stick to the T's (trails, track, treadmill). If you train 10 hours or less a week you can get by without strength work. If you train more than 10 then you need to add core strength work to ensure you don't get injured. So in my world there are no 11,12,13 hour weeks because if you want to do 11,12,13 hours of swim, bike, run, you have to add on 2-3 hours of core strength work which turns your 11,12,13 hours in 14,15,16, etc. Lately I've been at 17 - 20 hours per week. This is not easy to manage amidst a full time job, wife and three kids. Simplicity, planning and logistics are key to getting it done without getting too stressed. Life must be simple ... one of the first things to go in my life was TV. I rarely watch over an hour because I'm in bed by 9:30 so I can get up early and train before my family gets up. I should say that I don't train in the evenings (solely family time) and train very little on the weekends. Sometimes a weekend afternoon session if it's okay with the wife, otherwise only 1-2 hour sessions on weekend morning (again before the family wakes up).

The article I linked to in my last post hints around this ...

Another sacrifice is work. I'm not killing myself to move up the corporate IT ladder. My primary goal in life right now is to qualify for the Ironman World Championships (not make as much money as possible or become an IT stud). I'm happy to be writing code for the next few years, however, I make sure I position myself to take on projects that involve the latest in technology like XAML, .Net 3.0, smart client apps, etc. This way I make sure that if I enter the market again I'm going to demand the highest possible salary a developer can expect.

Train well


Carolina John said...

I still say you need to put on your big boy bike shorts and step it up a notch.

actually, i make humor because I am right with you on some of those points, and admire the rest. I too have the full time job, sole monetary provider for the wife and 2 kids, and i think my kids might be younger than yours. my girls will turn 2 and 4 this summer. I'm already at the top of the ladder with the company I work for and have no desire to climb any higher or put in more than 45 hours a week. I'm happy to keep up with the code (everything is in 3.5 now) but it is def something i just do to earn a living and support the fam. no great thrills or wasted sleep worrying about work stuff anymore.

The parts i admire are 15 workouts a week! holy moly, that's a ton. I'm going to get through my first marathon in 4 weeks, so I'm about to hit a taper for that. Ramping up tri training during a marathon taper doesn't jive, so I'm just going to manage until after valentines day. then it's langley pond international distance training. My first ever half iron will be the b2b in november, so that's my AAA race for the year. I was totally joking (sic) about making you look slow at langley pond. i'm hoping to make a 5k run in under 30 mins this year, and finish a sprint in under 1:30. It's like a fat guy calling the skinny guy a twig. so now:

you mean 15 workouts/20 hours a week is all it takes to kona and get down to 8% body fat? stop playing games and get into some serious training, will ya?

all's fair in love and humor. i like the idea of keeping a long run every saturday and a long bike ride every sunday, as those will be the only workouts those days. but exposing your schedule like that is really really cool. i didn't realize you were trying to kona. and i will DEF take some of that under heed once i ramp up tri training in late feb/early march. right now i'm just trying not to make that ramp to steep. but you and your training exploits/posts really do make me want to rev things up to your level.

one final suggestion: is calling me to the 60k distance. i think you should do it too, either 60k or 100k. some awesome hills, great challenges, and a really really sweet ride altogether. our wives and kids can hang out while we ride. check it out.

Wes said...

Huh... I never did a lick of strength training while getting ready for Ironman. Coach said I was already using all those muscles :-) Different strokes for different folks, I guess!