Ironman 70.3 Ireland
16 Weeks to Go
What are the critical success factors?
With 16 weeks to go to Irelands first 70.3 race its now time to start addressing what will prove to be the biggest limiting factor for the majority of the field. AEROBIC ENDURANCE. So you have trained well through the winter and are feeling good about the up coming season. You think its time to up the intensity in training and hit the early season races hard. STOP!!!
Remember what made you fit in the first place. We can all get really fit from paying attention to the basics of aerobic training and smart nutrition. The danger comes when we try to go even faster by adding excessive anaerobic training. We each have a limited tolerance for high intensity work and it’s nearly always less than we think.
If Ironman 70.3 Ireland is you’re A race for this season, the best form of training now 16 weeks out is to start increasing your aerobic endurance sessions. This is best done on the bike where time can slowly be built up over the coming 6 weeks with a much lower risk of injury that on the run. Swimming distance can also be increased once technique is very good. Technique is good when you can swim under 18-20min for 1km. If not continuing to work on technique will have far greater benefits than increasing distance.
With a deep aerobic base, it only takes a little bit of intensity over a short period of time to get the necessary physiological changes. Three to seven weeks out from your A-priority race is the appropriate time to start your most intense efforts. Most of us will have lower priority races that will provide all the intensity we need in the lead up to September 4th. This means that a radical change to your training program is not required. Ironman 70.3 race pace is your basic endurance training pace – so remember that you are doing race specific training year round.
8-10 weeks out is time to start building some muscular endurance. You’ll get the most benefit from working one gear up from race effort. Your “speed work” is really sport-specific strength work. This is muscular endurance work done at 15-25 bpm above aerobic threshold. This is still blue zone training and most likely at least 10bpm below lactate threshold.
When contemplating how best to build the specific preparation phase of your season, keep the following four points in mind:
1. Getting tired is the point of training. Your training program should be challenging. Following your most important workouts, it’s normal to be tired and/or sore for 12 to 36 hours. If you feel “nothing” then you can afford to up the intensity and duration a bit. If you are experiencing persistent fatigue or muscle soreness then you are over doing it. Most of us have no trouble with this point.
2. Get tired the right way. Each of us has a limited amount of recovery. You want to use your recovery the most effective way possible. This means that your fatigue should be generated in the most race specific method possible. Further, your most challenging sessions should address your greatest Ironman 70.3 limiter. A 45-minute track session might be beneficial to you. However, is it the best way to use your recovery?
3. Increase your recovery strategy in line with your training strategy. When you step up your training, you must step up your recovery. Injury, burn-out and illness are nearly always caused by a breakdown in recovery (flexibility, sleep or nutrition) rather than a specific training issue. Use an many recovery tricks as possible – healthy foods, naps, consistent sleep, massage, yoga and flexibility work. These items speed your recovery and enable you to tolerate more training.
4. Never sacrifice aerobic work for intensity. Steady paced, aerobic endurance training is the heart of Ironman 70.3 racing for most age-group athletes – it is the critical success factor for a solid bike split and being able to “run-the-run”. In the final weeks of training, many athletes drop their core endurance sessions in favour of high intensity “race specific” interval sessions. The most race specific workout you can do for Ironman 70.3 Galway is a 3-4 hour steady bike ride. Your B- and C-priority races will give you plenty of higher intensity work.
Enjoy the season,