Sunday, 26 October 2008

Training thoughts...

As you can see from the look on my face in today's photo (taken on the final lap of the run at Ironman Germany) my most recent Ironman run didn't quite go to plan... in fact, before I'd even crossed the finish line I was already thinking of ways to avoid this level of suffering ever again!

So, here we are five days away from the start on our Lanzarote training and it's time for change. As I've discussed in previous posts I felt that although I was fit enough to achieve my individual splits for the swim, bike and run in Germany, I wasn't quite strong enough on the bike to then run a decent marathon. Basically I was a good enough runner to run 3.20 but not a good enough cyclist to run 3.20... and Lanzarote is well and truly all about the bike!

Training for Germany my goal had been to maintain bike fitness against 2007 and improve my running, which I did by increasing my run volume and reducing bike volume, yet maintaining a decent number of long Sunday rides. As a tactic it seemed to work and my running improved right through the year with pb's half marathon and marathon as well as a really great run at UK70.3... unfortunately I underestimated the German bike course and my lack of overall bike volume combined with a slightly below-par day saw me miss my bike target and really struggle on the run. So, in order to swap things round for Lanzarote i.e. building my bike whilst maintaining my run fitness I've decided to implement the following key changes to my training...

  • No autumn marathon - this time last year I was about to run the Dublin marathon but with Lanzarote around seven weeks earlier in the year than my previous mdot events I decided to take a recovery month straight after the Great North Run and therefore be ready to start training at the beginning of November.
  • No spring marathon - for the first time in ages Helen and I will not be running in the London marathon. Partly this is due to it only being a few weeks before Lanza and recovery would be tight but mostly because the run focus and taper leading in to it, and the recovery required afterwards, mean that for the last three years I've somewhat neglected my bike during this key period in the build-up.
  • Bike based training camps - with a ten day Lanzarote camp already booked for early Jan and one or two more in the pipeline I'll be making sure of at least two (probably three) weeks of solid warm weather bike miles in the build up to the race.
  • Less long rides but greater overall bike volume - last year I did quite a few very long and very very tough rides, typically at weekends, which although I'm sure were beneficial they were so demanding that I'd struggle to complete any quality bike sessions during the week. This year my long rides will be a little shorter and a lot easier and my intensity will come from 3-4 shorter sessions mon-sat, hopefully allowing me to increase my bike volume.
  • Less long runs but greater overall run volume - a bit like my cycling, in the build up to Germany my Thursday long runs were pretty tough, often 20 miles plus and at close to seven minute miling. Again, the fatigue from these sessions can last quite a few days and reduces my ability to get out on the bike for quality work. Hopefully by spreading my run volume out over a greater number of shorter sessions I can maintain run fitness whilst freeing up time and energy for bike sessions.
  • Less demanding race schedule in the two months prior - I like racing and my ability to keep within heart rate limits and below prescribed effort levels means they can be no more intense than a decent training session. Even though I had a great race at 70.3 I held back significantly on the run and was also more than happy to complete the following week's super-sprint at Ironman pace. However, once you add two transatlantic flights (to and from Vancouver) and two very long car journeys (to and from Wimbleball) along with limited down time due to excessive travel, all within the final four weeks of training it's no wonder I wasn't quite on the ball come race day. This year I'll be kicking back at home and probably doing race simulations in the Dales with sleep, rest and chill-time much more of a priority.

My basic week is therefore likely to consist of (roughly) the following bike sessions, all of which will have some kind of run off...
  1. 60 minute easy turbo
  2. 120 minute interval based turbo (i.e. 3 x 30 minutes hard with 10 minute recovery)
  3. 120 minute steady turbo (variations in pace, slightly above and below Ironman effort)
  4. 3-4 hour outdoor ride including approx 90 minutes of hard hill work
  5. 4-6 hour easy long ride
Last year, most of my cycling was pretty long and steady so this year will see a significant increase in quality and intensity as well as overall volume, which coupled with several specific weeks of bike focus during the training camps should see me capable of a sub-5.40 bike split in Lanzarote.

With the build up to Lanza about to start I feel, for the first time, that I really KNOW what is required in order for me to get amongst the Hawaii slots... as opposed to the last three years, where it's been somewhat of an experiment. The first time I tried to break three hours for a stand-alone marathon I was on schedule to about 30k before blowing up spectacularly, but the experience of getting through half-way on target showed me what I needed to do in order to make that step in the future. I feel that I went through the same process in Frankfurt this summer and having been in the mix through 100k on the bike I know clearly where I am, where I need to be and also how to get there.

On a separate note our good friends Billy, Claire and Daz are all running in the Dublin marathon tomorrow morning. So please send them some positive thoughts at 9am and again a couple of hours later when the going will no doubt be seriously tough!

See you next week,



Jevon said...

Hi Mate
I like the look of this schedule. Think it's going to work really well for you. Great to see you this weekend and good luck with training. I'll be 7 weeks behind you :-)

Russ said...

Loving the photo, looks like you're running on empty!

Schedule thoughts look good. Definitely run off as many bikes as you can it's working wonders for me and really helps boost that run volume.

Does the plan to have an overall increase in both run and bike volume mean longer training hours to come? How do you see this affecting your recovery? I've reached the point now where an afternoon nap is becoming a necessity!


Khara Mills said...

Hey Tom
Great post, very interesting to see it down on paper so to speak. I believe in you just as much as you do and if all goes to plan, you're there...I just know it. Good luck with your training and see you in the pool :-)

Ben G said...

That looks like a great plan Tom. I think frequency of riding through the winter is key, but usually something many triathletes cannot manage. Throw in a couple of BIG overload weeks in the sun, and a couple of BIG overload weekends in the Dales and it will be a different sort of running photo in Lanza!!!

runtilyoudrop said...

Just looking at your bike plans, would suggest soem type of periodisation i.e. build big volume first then ramp up interval work. This avoids getting stale to soon and should thenallow good progressin the build phase. steven lord swears by overlong sessions e.g. 150 miles plus and wondered whether you had thought about these.