So, embarking on my first real “very long” distance race off the back of my recent stumble into the hole of overtraining has been described by not just a few as “madness”. Well, who can argue? But whilst it certainly will be a tough challenge, it’s also an opportunity to implement some new training ideas that I have been discussing with my coach.
Firstly, given the short time that I left myself to prepare for the Enduroman, I am placing a fair amount of faith in the high volume of training that I have banked since signing up for my first Ironman in 2006, and our ability to monitor my response and as I focus on BIG sessions over the 6 week block (which started mid December)- without overdoing it and slipping back into the danger zone.
Designing the Plan:
No matter how many Ironman races I’ve trained for, there’s no escaping the fact that the Double is a whole different level of endurance – both physical and mental - and the need to do some very big training days, during which one gets very tired. Without this challenge, how can one be mentally prepared and learn to anticipate the needs that might arise on race day? What food works best? What clothing? How can I minimize discomfort on the bike/wetsuit/run shoes? What can I focus on the get me through this particular type of "bad patch"/agony?
It’s fortunate for me that from the very start of my ‘serious’ racing career my training has been geared towards steady volume. I’ve clocked a lot more hours than the average age-grouper between 2006 and 2010, and maintained an equivalently high training load through the two years since as a professional. But, my recent situation has forced me to be smarter than my old ways of simply cranking out the hours to get there and to figure out a way of achieving some big hours, long tiring days and fatigue simulation, without falling back into "total" fatigue.
The starting point was to evaluate what I think I can handle at this point. Historically I have an average training week of 25 hours, with about 50-60% of that consisting of weeks with over 30hours and my history has shown that I can sustain that 25-30 hour week for a pretty long block and race well afterwards, if allowed sufficient recovery time or taper. In this instance, a long taper is not an option –so it’s a question of taking that 25-30hr week and being smart with it. Here, the plan for Feb 4th-5th is to have recovery periods interspersed in my week. Historically I have been negligent of the need for recovery, until I get to a point where I’m so bombed I have no option, so this might seem obvious but it really is a new approach for me!
I do have the flexibility with my coaching work to include a big day in the middle of the week – this has enabled me to structure my week around two high-volume blocks: Saturdays will be my longest ride (because I don’t swim on Saturday mornings) followed by a short pace-oriented run. Sundays will be a short ride followed by a long run. At peak this should amount to 12 hrs riding and 3.5hrs running over the weekend. I anticipate that Sunday’s long run at the end of this big weekend will be very, very challenging for me and as such the focus of that session will be – how to get through it rather than pace or distance run. Mid-week will be a long continuous swim-bike-run day, and as the race approaches and I become more familiar and confident with the long sessions, I’ll look to include some Ironman intensity into this session. The other 4 days of the week will be very short training days with workouts focused on stability, flexibility and keeping my “top end” active in the pool. I will also include one full day off each week which is something that I have never done previously.
We've been so lucky with mild weather so far this winter (only one ride in the snow) but ,unsure of how long that will last, from 3rd January I will be based in La Santa in Lanzarote, which will enable me to get these long days (and nights!) done without fear of freezing or iced roads, or too many other distractions.
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