On The Downhill Run – The Ten Week Ironman

Halfway There

One of the benefits of a short build-up to a big race is there isn’t a lot of time to get mentally fatigued.  No sooner has the initial enthusiasm worn off than you begin the downhill run and can start ticking off the days in anticipation.  You don’t have that period in between where the race still seems forever away and it just turns into a bit of a grind.

The Big Sessions

This week was always going to be the time for the biggest run and cycle sessions.  Generally I’d aim for the biggest ride session to be a week closer to the race but because I have Leila next weekend it had to happen here.  Of course the session lengths don’t drop off a cliff any time soon so it’s not like these are a make-or-break situation.

There is a school of thought that these two sessions should be done on consecutive days to replicate the demands of the race, that somehow running on tired legs in training will make it easier on the day.  I don’t prescribe to this, in fact I believe almost the opposite.  By backing up difficult sessions together you lose some of the fitness you would gain in the recovery from the first and have a couple of days in between and getting the run out of the way earlier in the week with the lower impact cycle later.

Make It Work

Training time and family time doesn’t need to be a zero-sum game.  Doing more in one area doesn’t necessarily take away from the other.  This week being a bigger week it was important that I did what I could to ensure that Simone and I were working together to make it all fit.

Monday was my usual recovery day so Tuesday morning I was up early and on the trainer to get an hour in before Leila was up.  That evening I was coaching at Woodbridge so after I dropped Leila at tennis practice I headed there to get an hour interval session in myself.  Simone did the tennis pick up and she and Leila spent some quality “girl time” together which is also important.

What a place to train

 

Wednesday after work Simone joined me at the pool (she’s been doing great with her training on limited time too by the way) where I did a relatively easy set of 2500m, making sure I was ready for the next morning which was the first of the big ones.  Out of the door around 5:30am I only really planned to run for two hours, heading up the trail past Darlington and Glen Forrest, running to a heart rate target to keep the effort down.  It was one of those beautiful mornings that makes you feel great and you don’t want to stop…so I didn’t.  In the end it was two and a half hours and I finished feeling reasonably fresh, knowing that it wouldn’t be until tomorrow that I could tell whether it was a wise idea.

Up early again to coach at the pool from 5:30 I felt reasonably good and the legs weren’t too heavy though the knees were a little tender.  Before the intrepid crew had left the deck afterwards I made sure I was already in the water.  This serves two purposes:  firstly it shows a good example to them and assures them that I’m not missing out by coaching them; secondly, and more importantly, it makes sure that I don’t chicken out or get lazy and just head home.

A long way to go

Friday night was quiet and in bed reasonably early because Saturday was chosen as my long ride day.  This was so that I could spend some time riding with Simone to her work at Fiona Stanley Hospital before continuing on down the freeway and back.  She started at twelve so we left a bit after 9:30 to make sure there was plenty of time for her to get there and make herself decent for work no matter what cropped up on the way there.  With a kiss she headed in and I put my nose into the wind and headed south for another hour or so before turning tail and returning home via the same route.  In the end I was a bit disappointed, I had planned to go for five hours and thirty minutes in total but I misjudged the turn around point and ended up doing five hours and thirty two.  I must be losing my touch.

The week’s training was completed on Sunday with an hour long swim and the intent to do an hour or so on the trainer which turned into ten minutes when my legs told me they had had enough.  I guess you can’t blame them after thirteen and a bit hours in six days, my longest training week in exactly a year.

Looking good…ish

Looking Forward

The race is now just four short weeks away but I won’t be focusing any further than this coming week.  If all goes to plan there will be another run over two hours and a bike around four and a half as my two key sessions, the rest will depend quite heavily on my recovery from this week with decisions made on a day-by-day basis.  The numbers all look fairly good and confidence is high so I need to make sure that I don’t ruin that by doing something stupid by pushing too hard for too long.  It’s an Ironman truism that more people ruin their race day by overdoing it in the lead up than ever do so by too little work.

Trav (aka Stikman)

 

*Missed the series?  Head to back to week one

One Step – The Ten Week Ironman

Every Journey

Starts with a single step, so they say, and the same applies to every training day.  Often the toughest part of each session is the first step (or stroke or pedal revolution) but this week I had a bit of a lesson on this front.  As you already know, unless there is something fixed in the week ahead that means I can’t train, Monday is my designated rest day for the week.  This week was no different.  Not only do I know that I need at least one total recovery day it also does me good mentally because it means that I can begin every week with a day where I execute the plan.  Silly I know but there you have it.

Knowing I’d had a less than optimal training week last week I was keen to get back into it come Tuesday and so I was looking forward to the club trail run that evening.  Unfortunately about an hour before it was due to start I got an alert from the DFES letting me know that there was a fire close to our start point so with safety in mind the run had to be cancelled.  Not to be daunted by such obstacles out came the trainer and an hour on the bike it was.

Getting Swift with Zwift

Inspired by Simone using it I have this week been giving the online bike “game” Zwift a trial.  If you have a controllable trainer it allows you to ride on virtual terrain with others, adjusting the resistance and speed automatically.  It’s kind of fun, at least more fun than staring at a wall, but it can often be tempting to chase other riders as they whizz past you.  Perhaps good for cyclists and certain triathlon events but probably not ideal for Ironman.  Still, I think I might keep it for the relatively small cost involved.

The Gambler

As Kenny says, “you gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em” and after a double day (run+bike) done a little too hard on Wednesday the numbers and my legs told me I needed to take it easy on Thursday.  I’d planned a longer swim but as swimming is my relatively stronger leg and I was going to swim on Friday morning after coaching I decided that a nice glass of wine on the couch with Simone was a much better option.

Be like Kenny

Up early on Friday I headed to the pool for an hour of coaching (if you haven’t come to a morning session you really should, the small numbers mean much more individual attention) followed by a threshold swim session.  No warm up and no cool down it was a pretty basic 3000m of threshold with both short and long intervals while the girl did her thing alongside me.

Westside Is The Best

Ali G was right, that’s why Saturday morning I set out to do my long(ish) ride for the week on the trainer watching Westside Story with Leila.  She’d wanted to watch it since we started a couple of weeks ago and had to cut it short due to bed time.  If we’re doing nothing else for her at least I’m confident that she’s getting a good cultural education with us.  We barely watch any telly but we make sure she knows all of the good comedy (Monty Python, The Two Ronnies, etc.), gets to listen to music from classic jazz to hard rock and appreciates the great movies.  I think she likes it all, at very least she tolerates our eclectic taste.

I’ve just met a girl

Sunday is Fun Day, Family Run Day

With Simone due to start night shift we had planned a morning long run around the river for the morning, with Leila riding her bike.  Leaving from Burswood we headed north past the new stadium, across the bridge (not the Matagarup one, Simone thinks it’s an abomination) then down around to the Narrows and returning via South Perth.  Running by heart rate I managed around 18km (including loop backs) in a touch over two hours which is my longest run since the half marathon in February.  Truth is that I rarely run more than 21km in a build up to Ironman anyway as the recovery just takes too long for me.  I don’t believe that anyone should run more than two and a half hours for this reason, there’s more than one way to skin a cat when it comes to getting distance in.  Frequency often gets better results without the risk and double run days are golden for a triathlete.

The Lesson

Did you catch it?  I know it was pretty subtle.  This week I didn’t have any problems at all with motivating myself to begin a single session because for each and every one I had someone else there to provide a secondary reason.  Whether it was just getting my head into the right mindset (Tuesday), to get my arse to the venue (Friday) or for company (Saturday and Sunday) there wasn’t a single instance where it was just about me.

Sometimes “I need to do this session because…” simply isn’t enough to get that first single step.  If you want to be a success in triathlon and life you need a decent support crew, whether they know they’re there to help you or not.  This week wouldn’t have been half the success it was without mine.

Trav (aka Stikman)

 

*Missed the series?  Head to back to week one

*Continue on to week six