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Winter Training

Now that my 2012 season is over, everything that I do with regard to health, training, triathlon, nutrition and weight management have to be done with C-man in mind. That being said, I’m in need of some guidance.

I plan on following in the footsteps of Jeff, Kevin, and Jon and use Matt Fitzgerald’s level 7 Ironman plan. With my race being on September 29, 2012, the 24 week plan officially begins on April 15. My questions revolve around what to do until then. Jeff Irvin gave me what I consider to be great advice: considering my limited endurance history, I should commence marathon training this winter so that when my IM training begins, I’ll have a solid base and those long runs won’t be a huge shock to my system. I’ve decided to follow Hal Higdon’s Intermediate 2 plan(18 weeks).  Jeff also suggested that I hop on the trainer a few times a week for some recovery and interval training. All this sounds good to me, but I don’t know when to do it. I’m going to be running for the next month and a half as I have a Half Mary on Thanksgiving weekend. If I were to begin the Marathon training right now, I’d be finished it by the beginning of February, which would allow me to rest and recover a bit before IM training. The problem could possibly be that if I stopped running in February, I might loose some of the fitness that I worked so hard to get. Or I could train for the Half Mary, take 3 weeks off and then start the marathon training in the middle of December which would take me right up to April 15 when I start IM training. The possible problem here is will my body be screaming for a break by late next summer.

Over the course of the last year, I’ve battled with rest and recovery/ how much is too much kind of thing. As I write this on a Tuesday afternoon, my last training session was yesterday morning and I’m feeling guilty as can be. I want to be ready for C-man, but I don’t want to be worn down. As always I would appreciate your thoughts and thanks for reading!



About paddyb76

Aspiring triathlete and endurance athlete. Husband, father and teacher. Always seeking a better life.


16 thoughts on “Winter Training

  1. It’s a mental battle buddy. When you choose a plan, stick to it and do what it says. I would say back off some if you feel you need to back off, but don’t over do what the plan says, especially for your first race. Don’t expect to be super fast either because from my experience going the distance zaps your potential to have awesome speed work, its a whole different monster you are tackling.

    As for off season. Back off everything, give the mind a break from Swim Bike Run. Everyone is different here and you will get different responses from all of us. Personally I like to lift in the winter, put on some weight and maintain half marathon running shape. Early spring I highly recommend either 13.1 or 26.2 on the schedule. I had a GREAT base when I started IM training and the body easily transitioned into it.

    Like I said, devise a plan and stick to it. Even in the off season, you will lose a lot of this fitness you gained this year, it is what it is. It will come back in a matter of weeks next spring, so no worries.

    Remember no matter what happens, make sure it’s still fun. If the fun factor wears off, back off a bit and make sure it comes back.

    Posted by Matt Oravec | October 4, 2011, 2:14 pm
  2. One thing about endurance racing that is key is your “accumulated base” which is basically the years of punishing your body to build your body up to be able to just be able to start training for an Ironman. When I started triathlon a few years ago, sure I had the cycling background to be able to ride 100 miles (not race) but I was NOT able to swim the distance, then ride the distance then run a marathon. I was also not able to do that my 2nd and 3rd years as a triathlete. I had to pay my dues and build up that “accumulated base” to be able to finally tackle it in my 4th year.

    Not sure where you are in your triathlon career, and I hope you are ready, but ask yourself what is your “accumulated base” like?

    Good luck!

    Posted by Jon | October 4, 2011, 2:18 pm
    • I guess that’s my concern Jon. This is my first year at this. I know physiologically how years of this cause mitochondria to reproduce prolifically and how the network of capillaries becomes so much more complex. That’s why I’m weighing the marathon stuff. If I can get the added base great, but if I’m going to hurt myself, well no thanks.

      Posted by paddyb76 | October 4, 2011, 9:03 pm
  3. Pat,

    one of your last comments “The possible problem here is will my body be screaming for a break by late next summer” is where I am at for you.

    Do not worry about fitness loss as 24 weeks is more than enough time to build the proper fitness for the IM.

    So, without planning out your season for you I would make sure you have a decent break in there for your mind body and spirit that does not involve long rides and runs that take a toll on you and your social life (friends, family etc.)

    Posted by Jeff | October 4, 2011, 2:27 pm
  4. Man, I’ve got a lot of thoughts on this and will probably shoot you a novel email as the calendar/schedule was almost identical for me in 2011.

    Agree so far with every comment and probably more on the side with Jeff at this point. Use your Half as a mid-point for 26.2 training. Run your first 26.2 in February sometime, recover for a few weeks in March, go and enjoy Spring Break, then come back ready to rock and roll for 24 weeks.

    Jeff is accurate with planning some recovery/rest time into the mix. I hit a wall in July that was huge. Took a week completely off and came back much stronger for the final push. This is taxing in every way possible and truly the process of becoming an Ironman and getting to raceday ready is what makes you an Ironman, not the finish line. I know Matt agrees and chances are so would Jon. Raceday is a culmination, a ceremony of sorts, but you’ve earned the right to be at that ceremony through your journey.

    Like I said, I’ll shoot you some more thoughts in an email, but earn some of those stripes by building your base now and you’ll be very glad you did.

    Posted by @thelifeitri | October 4, 2011, 2:38 pm
  5. I would say start building that base for sure. IMO, Jeff’s advice is spot on. I think I would try to add a longish ride in AT LEAST every other week if you can (even on the trainer) to get your body used to being on the bike for a long time. You should be able to find an IM build plan for free on Beginner Triathlete that you could morph with your marathon plan. So much of IM training is mental – and the hardest part of IM is the TRAINING. Literally, when I look back at my 2011…I think more of the training than the race, the race really went by so fast!

    The swimming.. Eh. I am the wrong one to ask about that. I find it to be the least important part of training for IM (and the least fun for me). I mean, you want to be able to go the distance and come out of the water feeling strong and ready, but I would trade bike time for some of the time I spent at the pool (that is just me).

    Hal Higdon rocks. Love his plans, his plans have gotten me through 5 marathons.

    As far as what Jon said, I see his point, he is right – but I didn’t do it that way… I think if someone were to look at my accumulated base in 2010 going into IM training…they would have said I wasn’t ready for that distance. But I am kind of a bonehead that way…For example, I hadn’t run more than 4-5 miles in my life, did not run regularly…and then 3 months later ran a marathon (using Higdon’s plan). I had done 2 HIM’s leading to my IM, but really I did one in August 2010, then did one as a training race in June 2011 to see where my fitness was in July. GRANTED, I am not fast…but still.

    I also really need a break post-season (as Matty O said) and am just now thinking about getting back into running on my schedule, as I feel like it. Don’t under estimate the importance of being mentally ready…to me that is the key to getting the day to day IM training done, and to getting to that finishline ready to finish with a smile.

    Posted by Mandy | October 4, 2011, 2:42 pm
    • Mandy, thanks for the info. I’m going to check out Beginner Triathlete for sure. I also like the idea of the longish rides. While I don’t live in Maine, I’m not exactly in florida either, so some of them are going to have to be on the trainer.

      Posted by paddyb76 | October 4, 2011, 9:12 pm
  6. Both Matt and Jon are giving you good advice. We all want to get stronger in the offseason but we need to be careful it is still an offseason and not just an extension of the season! The Higdon plan is solid but even he says it is not written in stone. You have the holidays coming up and don’t stress about taking a day here and there to spend with the family – you’ll be neglecting them soon enough (-:

    If you are wasted, take a day off. If you are feeling aches and pains from running, spin on the trainer for 45mins and skip running. On those days Higdon has you running 5 or less miles jump on the trainer after your run or in the evening if you did the run in the morning. Freaking runners for some reason think they can only train once a day? A spin after a run is perfect for active recovery and will help keep you fresh.

    I’ve seen guys go cold turkey on s/b/r for months and then try to start out with a 14hr training week when the IM plan begins – this is not a good way to do, this is actually the worst possible way to do it.

    As for you specific question: Start the Higdon plan later so it runs into IM training. IIRC, it tops out around 45 or so miles so you are going to be running 6-8hrs a week? This should have you in good shape going into IM training and that is the point – keeping some fitness in the offseason. Now just because you are starting the plan later doesn’t mean you should sit around on your ass until then. Go run. Take weeks 3-7(or whatever would give you a step back week before the plan officially starts) and just follow that.

    Also, as Matt said have fun. If you are not having fun then you probably need a couple days off to get the body and mind right.

    Don’t over-think this shit. If you are feeling like ass, back off. Trust your instincts.

    Posted by Jeff Irvin | October 4, 2011, 2:49 pm
  7. Solid advice from everyone, to mirror off Jon, the “natural progression” set by “professional coaches” is
    First Year Sprints
    Second Year Olympics
    Third 70.3
    Fourth 140.6
    This allows your body to handle to build load of distance.

    Fitzgeralds plan is solid, I suggest reading Going Long by Gordo Byrn and Your Best Triathlon by Joel Friel. I am a huge Gordo fan and Friel’s new book is a solid plan, but its tough. The thing about Friels book that its for all distances. Check them out at your library and if you really like them, then buy them

    In the offseason, it usually is used for working on your weakness. If you are ruinning all winter, I suggest using the trainer to keep your bike fitness. Not so such of intervals but for zone 2 aerobics fitness. Like Spinervals AeroBuilder sets

    Posted by BDD | October 4, 2011, 4:01 pm
    • BDD, you’re the man. I totally respect all you have to say. Definitely gonna check out both of those books for sure. And I’m gonna be sure to work up a couple of saddle sores on the trainer this winter.

      Posted by paddyb76 | October 4, 2011, 9:17 pm
  8. I don’t know if I can add anymore and to be honest I don’t even think about these things because I have a coach who puts me in position to succeed. I give her my race schedule and she creates a plan.

    This is what I can tell you about my schedule though. I train all year round. My week is usually 3 days of swim, 1 day of solid running, 1 day of solid cycling, a run off the bike and a bike with a swim. Yes it doesn’t add to 5 (I’m talking M-F) but it is usually splash/spin on Monday, Swim, Run Tuesday, Bike/Run brick Wednesday, Swim/Bike or Run Thursday, Off Friday, Long Ride Saturday, Long Run Sunday.

    Monday is that recovery swim and spin day typically.

    Having that rest day 1x per week is huge. As you know I workout before the sun’s alarm goes off and I do this so that I have 24 hours before I have to train again and that gives my body plenty of rest as well.

    Whatever you do stick to it and don’t change. Don’t read other people’s blog posts that they rode 100 miles and feel you need to as well. If your plan doesn’t call for it don’t do it. It’s that simple.

    I used to want to do what everybody else was doing then realized that I am me and my fitness is not equal to those around me. My weakness was the swim and focused on that and now I believe that my bike is my weakness so I will work on that harder. It’s a balance and you need to figure out what balance works for you.

    Posted by Jason @ Cook Train Eat Race | October 4, 2011, 8:26 pm
    • Your point is well taken. It’s all too often that I get caught up in what other people are doing. I see KC logging centuries like they’re rides to the corner store and I think I’ve never ridden that far. It’s not that I can’t, I know I can, I just don’t have the experience or confidence to get out there by myself.

      Posted by paddyb76 | October 4, 2011, 9:19 pm

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