Last Chance

Almost time to start my full taper. Now is the time to take stock of where I am at and use this last chance to work on my weaknesses.

Strength

This is far from my weak point this year. I am significantly stronger across most areas of strength than I have ever been. These include 1RM lifts, strength endurance in terms of push ups and pull ups and importantly power. Simply put, I can move much heavier loads both faster and for longer. Spending less time on strength training, changing focus to compound movements such as powerlifts and olympic lifts has been very successful.

Has this carried over to triathlon? Absolutely is the short answer. To be a little more specific I am better able to hold a stable platform in all three disciplines. That means, the parts that are meant to stay still do, while the moving bits move from a strong base, allowing better force generation. This equals improved efficiency or economy of motion. Very important for the Ironman. Subjectively hills feel easier.

Running

Simply put, my running was ready about four weeks ago. With the reduced load of running since, I feel I have still gotten stronger. Even running after a long ride feel really good. This is definitely my strongest point.

Swimming

I still feel far from great in the water, but I know I can get through the swim without too much of an issue. Unfortunately I wanted to feel great in the water this year, but yet again, guess which training sessions I tended to skip the most. You get out what you put in.

Cycling

Vastly improved from when I started on this campaign for Ironman Australia. The problem is I am still not where I hoped to be. Yes I can keep riding, and riding without too much trouble. I can maintain solid technique throughout the ride, seem to be keeping on top of nutrition and pull up reasonably well after long sessions. The distance isn't a problem. The problem is I am so much slower than I wanted to be at this stage. Now fast speed is definitely not what I am looking for, but just a couple of minutes quicker for each 30km section equals 12 minutes off my overall bike time. I want those few minutes, but not at the expense of my run leg.

Solution?

There is now a bit over three weeks from the race. My full taper will begin officially 2 and half weeks out, but I will now begin tapering in my strong areas. To find those last bits of improvement that I want I could simply hope that the rest from the taper will provide the results. Fortunately I know what a taper really provides. It is far from the magical plan that sees you improve by huge amounts. Yes the taper is very, very important, but the reason isn't for the improvement in performance, it is more about not stuffing up your performance abilities. You can't win a race with a good taper, but you can definitely lose it with a poor one. From a reasonable amount of good quality research you can expect to gain between 1-5% improvement above your current, training ability. The most common amount is 3%. Not as big as most people hope.

Supercompensation

The lead in to a taper can be a good time to put in an extra effort. However, you must have a strong base, and be biomechanical sound in order to pull it off. The focus should be on what will give you the biggest bang for your buck on race day. The effort will likely result in some serious fatigue to the level of what is commonly termed overreaching. That level of fatigue just before overtraining. However, I will have 2.5 weeks to not only recover, but hopefully supercompensate from the training. Supercompensation can provide an extra 4-9% improvement in performance above normal training. Then I may still get that 3% from the taper. Of course these numbers are fairly arbitrary, I will never truly know if I do achieve them. There are so many other variables associated with Ironman day.

Of course the supercompensation training will be directed towards the bike leg. It will be aimed at improving that average pace. How? A simple solution. A few days of riding 4-6 hours at or slightly above my goal race pace. That's it, no heart rate guidelines, hardly any running, but a swim at the end of each day to stretch out, and hopefully improve that feel somewhat. No more weight training either.

My mindset has changed. My enthusiasm is back and I now have a lot of energy for this final onslaught.

Comments

  1. I'm glad you have your enthusiasm back! I was a bit worried when I read "once I get past this Ironman thing".

    At least the swim is the shortest leg, so no drama there. With improving bike speed, what do the pros do? Wouldn't improving 'top end' bike speed give you the extra kph you're looking for? I'm thinking things like long intervals (6min hard, 1min easy etc), or 40ks 'hard' (much faster than goal pace) every second or third day?

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