Leading up to my Ironman campaign I was coming off a run focus. In fact my running was very close to the best it had ever been, but I definitely had neglected the swimming and cycling. So I maintained my running for a couple of months and gradually built up my workload in the water and on the bike so that I would be fit enough to complete the Ironman training.
This so-called base training was different to any I had completed in the past. Instead of lots of long, slow hours, I kept the volume low and completed work at a wide range of intensities, adding in a good dose of flexibility, plyometrics and strength work. This had me feeling very fit.
The real Ironman training began about four months out from the race. This year I completed the lowest volume of training I ever have. This had me feeling strong and enjoying the majority of my training much more. However, it appears to have left my cycling level well below where I had hoped it would be.
Training hours for most weeks were at about the 12 hours mark until January where I average 15 hours. In the last couple of months I managed to put in some bigger training weeks which results in two weeks at about 20 hours and another two at 25 hours. In between these effort training dropped to about 8-10 hours/week mainly due to other commitments.
For those big weeks I cut my running substantially and put a lot of extra time into the bike training. This was an attempt to bring my cycling up closer to the standard I hoped for. I think I only got part way there. During these weeks I never missed a swim session, but I dropped plenty earlier on.
Distance wise I managed to hit the following:
- Swim: 2x 5000m, 4x 4000m with most sessions between 2000-3000m.
- Bike: Plenty of very slow 5-7 hour rides early in training. Then at closer to IMpace I got in 2x180-190km, 4x160-180km, 4x120-150km
- Run: Plenty of 3-3.5 hours low intensity runs early on and then maintained my running with 2-2.5 hour run at IMpace or faster every 8-10 days during Feb and March.
A different approach again this year. I cut my running back about 6 weeks out from the race and have felt this has left my legs in better shape than ever.
The true taper in which the focus really is on recovery started 2.5 weeks out from the race. I trained long and hard on the bike leading into it and then drastically cut both the volume and intensity of my training. No sessions this year to spike the system. The focus is purely on recovery.
This has resulted in me feeling the worst I can remember during a taper. Each day I have felt unfit, but during the very limited training sessions I have had to keep a very close watch on the intensity. Each day it has become so much easier to go way too hard without realising. That has got to be a good sign.
Only a few days away from the test now.