In just a few days, it will be exactly 9 months until Mike Reilly tells me that I’m an Ironman! 9 months until a race seems like a long time to train, but for someone who just learned to ride a road bike, has run only one marathon and just got back in the pool for the first time in 10 years, I need all the time I can get. I’m fairly confident in my ability to swim 4,000 meters and to run 26.2 miles, but adding a 112 mile bike in there is the real challenge. Most Ironman training plans are 6 months long and many half Ironman plans are 4-5 months long.
In order to get to the point that I want to be at come December 24, 6 months out and when Ironman training “officially” starts, I need to focus on a few of goals:
1) Get More Lean. Racing leaner is easier. The less you weigh, the faster you go. The heaviest Kona Champion is Chris McCormick, who weighs only 175 lbs. It’s proven that although it’s better to have a little more body fat on the swim (fat increases buoyancy), weighing less on the bike (particularly going up hill) and the run is a big advantage. Imagine racing a marathon with 10 lb weights strapped to your back. Not fun huh? Why do it if you can avoid it?
2) Increase Bike Speed and Endurance. In terms of mileage, the bike portion is 80% of your Ironman day. In terms of my experience, I’ve spent about 5% of my life biking compared to swimming and running, even if you include beach cruising on the boardwalk and exploring the neighborhood on my Huffy. I swam consistently for three years in high school and I’ve been running consistently for two years (between those two I dabbled with the elliptical machine, group exercise classes, and kickboxing, among others). I did go through a 6 a.m. spin class phase in early 2010 but doing intervals to Britney for an hour doesn’t come close to a 112 mile ride.
3) Run Faster. Although I’ve come a long way in terms of running speed, my current “easy” pace of 8:45-9:15 put me at about a 4 hour marathon, sans 4,000 meter swim and 112 mile bike beforehand. I’d like to get my comfortable pace down to 8:15-8:45 so that the marathon isn’t quite as daunting and I know that it is possible in a short period of time, as I’ve dropped 10 minutes off my half marathon time in one year.
So there are the goals. Now how do I achieve them?
Using Insanity to Get More Lean
As a Beachbody coach and a general believer of Beachbody programs, I have been wanting to try Insanity. My good friend Asia recently completed it and I noticed big differences in her core (ie ripped abs). I also noticed when she kicked my butt up the final at the AFC half marathon in August, finishing 30 seconds faster than me. And, although she was eating the “maintainance” amount of calories, she was still losing weight despite her best efforts not to.
Mike and I have decided to use Insanity to build stronger cores and further lean out before we start our Ironman training schedule. We plan to start the program in early October and follow the nutrition plan. From everything I’ve read, it’s very difficult and not recommended to slim down during Ironman training (seems counterintuitive that when you’re working out up to 20 hours a week that you wouldn’t lose weight but you have to fuel yourself for those long workouts and it ends up evening out), so I would like to use Insanity to get into even better shape before embarking on the most physically challenging journeys of my life.
Besides using Insanity to lean out (obviously we could do this by dieting alone), we also are using it to avoid burnout. We’ve been actively triathlon training fo the last three months and to continue to train hard for another 9 months could lead to burnout. We think that using Insanity to increase endurance, slim down and build very important core strength will contribute to our Ironman training nicely while avoiding boredom.
Bike Smart & Frequently to Build Speed & Endurance
As you know, we completed our first round of P90X while also training for a marathon, and we believe we can complete Insanity while also building bike strength. P90X was a 6 day a week program that we modified down to 5 days, but each workout was at least 1 hour, with the average workout being 1 hr 15 minutes. Insanity, on the other hand, starts out with 35-40 min workouts and builds to 50-60 min workouts in the 2nd phase. We plan to do these workouts in the morning and leave two to three evenings and at least one weekend day free for swimming, biking or running.
My main emphasis during the remainder of September and all of October will be the bike. I plan to build up to at least two sixty mile rides before the end of October. That way, I will have the confidence that I can ride the half Ironman distance several months in advance. Weekday rides will start to shift from outdoor rides to spin classes or rides on the trainer. I would like to ride 3x/week during this time period, including two weekday rides and a long ride on Saturday. If possible, I’ll add a second ride or brick on Sunday morning.
Run a Marathon to Run Faster
Starting in November, the weekend workout emphasis will shift to marathon training. We plan to run the Surf City Marathon which is held on February 5, 2012. Although it is not always encouraged to complete a marathon during Ironman training, I have a pretty strong desire to get another one under my belt before the big day in June. I think this race is far enough out from the Ironman (4 1/2 months) that the taper and race wear and tear of a marathon won’t have an impact on 140.6 race day. I think that instead it will increase my running speed and also increase my comfort running very long distances.
In December, Insanity will be complete and ideally I’ll be leaner, faster and stronger. I’ll be quicker on the bike and on foot and be ready to take on a full load of swim/bike/run. As of now, we don’t plan to follow a formal training plan for the Ironman. We are going to base our routine off of what works with our schedule and with the Tri Club offerings (i.e. Master’s swims Monday/Wed, track workouts Tuesdays, etc) but we will use a training plan to base our mileage and weekly training hours off of. I’d greatly appreciate any suggestions for a training plan to use or any other Ironman training tips. I’m excited to start this journey and would love any feedback that I can get!