I thought I would contact you via email
since you are unable to answer on your blog page. I have a couple questions and
am hoping you can help me with your expertise. I have to share I use to live in
Tempe and Scottlsdale a few
years ago! I miss the mountains, it's a beautiful place to live! I'm presently
in Florida. Very flat!
I just finished my first Ironman, Oct 20th, I'm 57 years old, Personal Trainer. My goal
that race was to just finish, which is what I did. Not a great time, but happy
to finish and feel good and no injuries. I have another one coming up on Jan
12,2013. This one I would like to train more for speed than just finishing. It
is a flat course unlike the last IM,
which should be to my advantage physically since I trained for hills on the
What is the best way to train for events that are so close together? I'm not a fast runner, should I concentrate
on speed and shorter distance during the week and up my long runs to 3 times
per month? I would appreciate any help you might give me.
Thank you, I have used so many of your
training plans in the past and they rock!
First of all, you did the right thing to set your goal on just
finishing your first Ironman. That’s an awesome accomplishment. You should
certainly be able to go faster on your next. My only concern is if you have
enough time to fully recover before doing another. But, fortunately, my
suggestion on how to go faster will also reduce the burden of training for the
next one. If you do what I suggest here I can almost guarantee that your next
will be a faster one.
Let’s start with an overview, one that Ironman athletes don’t usually
like to hear: An Ironman is a bike race with a swim warm-up and a jog to the
finish line. Most don’t like to hear that because it downplays the value of
swimming and, especially, of running. But it’s true. Let me explain.
It’s a bike race: About half of the race is spent on the
bike. So it has the greatest impact on the overall time. Get really fit on the
bike and you’ll have a good finishing time—if you hold back. This last part is
critical. If you go all out on the bike—your fastest possible split—you’ll walk
the marathon. But if you hold back 5% on the bike you’ll come off and be ready
to run, albeit, slowly. More on that in a bit. The best way to prepare for the
bike is to use a power meter. It’s almost like cheating. Once you know what
your power should be for the race, you just ride to that power and you produce
your best time. Again, this is not a maximal (minimal?) time, but rather
optimal—it leaves you with enough legs to run, not walk.
With a swim warm-up: The swim makes up only about
10% of the race. You don’t need to swim a whole lot to get ready for it. Three
swims a week will do it. And the focus _must_ be on form—not fitness.
You’ll get a lot faster just by refining your technique. Let fitness takes care
of itself. On race day then, what you must do is pace yourself in the swim. Get
on somebody’s feet who seems to have a good pace and relax. Just keep checking
to make sure the other swimmer is staying on course.
And a jog to the finish: Ok, finally, the run which you
expressed concern about. There is absolutely no need to do “speed” work, as in
fast intervals. It will just be a waste of your time, leave you tired most of
the time, and increase your chances of injury. You’re never going to run “fast”
in an Ironman. Even the pros don’t run fast. A pro man who runs a 2:50 after
the bike could probably run 2:25 to 2:30 in a stand alone marathon. That’s
roughly 15% slower after 112 miles on the bike. His Saturday morning run with
his buddies is usually faster than that! It’s the same for you only the
percentage is probably more like 20% because you will have spent more time on
the bike with less training and therefore be relatively more tired. You could
go out right now, with no additional training, and run the same time or even
faster for 26.2 miles than you’re going to run in the Ironman. That would feel
easy. It’s a jog.
A good example of all of this is Pete Jacobs who won Ironman
Hawaii a couple of weeks ago. He said he only ran about three times a week in
the build up and swam typically twice a week. But he put in about 18 hours a
week on the bike.
So, like I said earlier, it’s a bike race with a swim warm-up and
a jog to the finish. Prepare for it that way and you’ll greatly increase your
chances of having a faster race. The only remaining issues then are pacing the
bike optimally and getting race day fueling right. Those are also both as
critical to your success and must be taken very seriously.
Let me know if there are any follow up questions. Good luck and
please let me know how you did!