Ironman & Triathlon Preparation
- Where Are You Now?
It is very important in an athletes preparation for Ironman and Triathlon races to kow where they are right now. Using the tips below you will be able to determine your position at this time and prepare for the future.
1. The year ahead
2. Pace judgment
3. Where are you right now?
4. Nutrition tips
5. The January Question
For successful triathlon racing you must prioritise your races so this month decide which ones you want to do. Enter the races early as demand is exceeding supply for some of the top events.
Use your diary planner and work backwards from your important races, so that you know how many weeks/months of training you have and very importantly how many weeks between your selected races.
Peaking and tapering will improve your race performance. I believe you can only peak twice in a season so 2 races should be chosen as your "A" races. In order to peak, your "A" races would be either 2/3 weeks or 8 weeks apart.
A maximum of four outings should be classed as your "B" races for the season, which would use a mini taper.
Any other racing is for race experience and therefore the result should be used to restructure training not put your head in the sand due to a bad performance.
"A" races are the ones you most want to do well in. These must be based on your performance not the outcome. I.e. if last year you were 21st in a race and you want to make the top 20 - this is an outcome goal as it is outside your control over who may race that day.
Look at your individual result by comparing the total time or splits and use that as being a gauge for how you have improved season on season.
Pace judgment is key for endurance-based sports and it needs to be learnt. You need to monitor how your performance is changing as you train on a regular basis.
Start to do individual sport time trials every 4 weeks. Every 2 weeks is to close as there is not enough time to fit in more than one session to alter the result from the last test and 6 weeks is too long to find out which training areas you are neglecting.
Ideally do 3 events in 2 days so as not to distract from your training schedule. Structure the time trials by doing your weakness sport first.
I.e. Weak runners - run first and swim later in the day with the cycle the next day.
Weak swimmer - swims first, cycles later and runs fresh the following day.
These are not back-to-back sessions but give you the information to evaluate where you are now and where you need to make adjustments in your schedule.
For running use a 5km course. My ideal route is finding an out and back starting with slight downhill to get your leg turnover high and then retracing your steps so the incline acts as a sting in the tail in order to build a bit of strength. If this is difficult to find use a fairly flat route.
Cycling would be an 8- 10-mile circuit- this does not have to be pan flat and actually incorporating a good hill is OK at this time of year.
Swimming would be an 800-metre time trial. Try to take 200 metre splits to review later.
Make sure that you warm up for 15-minutes for each time trial.
Results and what they mean
Started well yet gradually slowed - means you are lacking endurance and pace judgement
Pace varies between high and low - means you are lacking the ability to hold the pace.
Both the above show that tempo effort sessions need to be carried out regularly in your schedule.
Tempo efforts are "controlled" not all out. Your heart rate should be between 75/85% and importantly no higher.
Examples of starting Tempo sessions:
Swim - 4 x 200m with 1-minute swim recovery.
Bike - 3 x 10 minute with 4 minute easy spinning recovery.
Run - 3 x 6-minute efforts with 1 minute jog recovery.
Note that all the above are active recovery meaning do not stop. The key is to do these once a week for each sport and monitor your recovery between each set. These tempo efforts test your fitness without being too demanding and show you how you are adapting. Every few weeks the session will need to be adjusted according to how your speed endurance is progressing.
WHERE ARE YOU RIGHT NOW?
Are you able to keep going but lack strength or are you strong but lack endurance?
In January, start to increase your distances or duration but by no more than 10 per cent than the previous week. Still work on economy of effort and add the tempo session once a week. Spend more time on your weakness. Ensure that you are doing your long slow distance sessions at least fortnightly; running for 75-90 minutes; biking for 2-3 hours; swimming a controlled yet relaxed 1000- metres within a main set.
If you lack endurance reduce a couple of sessions and increase the time spent on your steady state session, keeping below 60 percent of maximum heart rate. I cannot emphasis how important it is to do these slow, it is the duration of the session that makes it challenging and develops endurance not the intensity.
Strength will give you speed but speed will not give you strength.
Concentrate on strength work rather than speed work. You need to be building strength in preparation for the speed work that will start in the spring.
For swimming use hand paddles; this not only improves strength, but also in trying to avoid the inherent "slipping," corrects your technique.
For running and cycling strength use hills and more hills. When riding keep the gear under control and alternate hills between seated and out of the saddle climbing. Make sure that you keep the effort even right over the top of the hill - this means not going off to hard at the base and dying at the top.
For running aim to do 12 minutes of hill running i.e. if you can only find an incline that last 2 minutes do 6 repetitions of this. Try to find a gradual incline, not too steep and as you progress increase the length of the rep if possible.
We have been emphasising the importance of getting use to eating and drinking whilst training but have you really been experimenting. I am always hearing how people are unable to eat on the bike and more commonly on the run.
You must practise this NOW not when you are 8 miles into your Half Ironman run leg!
Start this weekend on your long slow run by running on a full stomach maybe after breakfast; then the following week run on an empty stomach and eat during the run; finally on your next long run, again start with a full stomach but eat during the run.
Start to get use to the feeling of food in your stomach as for long distance racing it is imperative that your body learns to digest the food - you and your body will learn this if you put this into practise.
Nutrition Tips For Triathlon And Endurance Events