Final IMFLA Training

I’ve put in a lot of hard miles this season. Florida will be my final race of the season, and potentially may also be the hardest race of the season (and my life!). It is with these thoughts in mind that I decided to give myself a bit of extra recovery after my block of training in Kona. It should be noted that Kona was actually the third week straight of hard training, so my body was really starting to crave some recovery. As well, travelling home from Kona took 18 straight hours, which is the longest I’ve ever travelled for, so the next day I was feeling super fatigued and super jet-lagged. Thus, I decided to listen to the body and take a few days very easy. This meant taking some recovery from Thursday October 16th all the way to Sunday October 19th. In that time I did one swim and one run, both nice and easy. By Monday October 20th I was feeling better and getting the itch to train again, so I decided to put in one more week of training, at a moderate volume and intensity.

In a comment on a previous blog post someone asked me to speak about my taper. I would consider this week of training to be the beginning of my taper. Whereas I would usually swim about 20 kilometers, bike the equivalent of 600 kilometers and run about 140 kilometers in a week, this week I swam 15 kilometers, biked the equivalent of 400 kilometers, and ran 110 kilometers. But, volume isn’t the only thing I change during the taper. As well, I reduce the intensity. I don’t reduce the intensity of my quality intervals to anything below race pace, but I do eliminate all Vo2Max and higher intervals at this time. In this week I did a bit of stuff at race pace, and slightly higher, but nothing significantly higher. I find the higher intensity intervals to be quite taxing, and since in Ironman racing you really have no business spending time at or around Vo2Max, I feel no insecurity eliminating them at this time, in order to give the body a better chance at recovering. Other than that, that’s about all I change. It’s business as usual in terms of two interval workouts per week in each sport, as well as a weekly brick workout. Additionally, being a big believer in rhythm and muscle recruitment patters, I still will run and bike every single day.

I should also make a comment about volume. My volumes from week to week, as well as during the taper may seem rather high. I would imagine in the entire long-distance triathlon spectrum I would probably be nearing the high end. But, I don’t just pull these numbers out of thin air. I have logged every workout I have done since I got back into running after a several year hiatus; in other words, every workout since November 5th, 2009. Over time, patterns have emerged as to when I perform best in each discipline. I have come to find that there are corresponding volumes, intensities, workouts, etc. to these performances. Here is one analysis I conducted after St. George 70.3, when confidence and motivation were very low, and I was searching for answers. If I can offer you any tip for your own training, it is: LOG EVERYTHING! If you log everything, and change little bits and pieces of your training from build to build, patterns will begin to emerge and you will be able to isolate them and utilize them to your advantage. It was after my St. George 70.3 training analysis that I really started to realize that I respond well to high-volume training, and that is why my current training may appear that way. But, just because it works for me doesn’t mean it will work for you. Only through LOGGING EVERYTHING will you be able to ascertain what works best for you.

On Thursday October 23rd I started the day off with a moderate length bike workout. It was:

  • 15 minutes warmup
  • 30 minutes @300w with 10 minutes recovery
  • 20 minutes @305w with 10 minutes recovery
  • 10 minutes @310w with 10 minutes recovery

The total duration was 2 hours. Here is a graph of the data:

Bike Workout 1

The workout felt very easy, as I would imagine it should if you intend on pushing comparable wattages for over four hours. A few hours later I did this run workout:

  • 4k warmup
  • 5k@3:40/km with 600 meters recovery @5:40/km
  • 5k@3:40/km with 600 meters recovery @5:40/km
  • 5k@3:40/km with 600 meters recovery @5:40/km
  • 2k@3:40/km with 400m recovery @5:40/km
  • 2k@3:40/km with 400m recovery @5:40/km

The total distance was 26 kilometers, and it took 1 hour 43 minutes and 8 seconds. Once again, it felt very easy. It was difficult to cap this one off here, as in the past few weeks I have been running 10-15 kilometers more. But the taper is a time to walk away from workouts feeling good and fresh.

On Saturday I did my final brick workout before Ironman Florida. I wanted to do something that would give me confidence in my current fitness, but that wouldn’t be too taxing. I decided I was going to do a 15 minute warmup on the bike straight to 2 hours and 15 minutes continuous at my intended Ironman bike wattage, then I would hop off the bike and run a half-marathon at a pace that felt honest, but not as if racing in practice. Here is the data from the bike portion of the workout (Note, I tried to get heart rate on this one, but it copped out about 25 minutes in. All I can say is that my heart rate after 15 minutes at 305w, was 123BPM. Note 2: I have a large heart):

Bike Portion of Brick

One other thing I wanted to do in this workout was run in my racing flats. I haven’t run in them since Barrelman on September 21st, so I wanted to make it sure it wasn’t a complete shock to my feet this Saturday. I hopped off the bike and was able to transition in two minutes i.e. washroom break, new socks, shoes, hat, etc. and then I settled in at 10.3mph on the treadmill (3:37/km). I knew this pace was a bit ambitious, but it felt good. I wasn’t going to hesitate to reduce the pace if it started to hurt. Additionally, I wanted to use this workout to work on my aid-station skills. Before the workout I went to the convenience store next door and bought some paper cups. I then filled them with sports drink and Coca-Cola, and then lined them up on the ledge next to my treadmill along with some gels. The pace started to get a bit taxing around 10 miles, but not so taxing that I felt the need to reduce the pace. I ended up running the half-marathon in 1:16:34. Afterwards I cooled down for 3 kilometers, for a total of 15 miles (24 kilometers) in 1:29:43. Overall, I was happy with the workout, and it gave me just the boost of confidence I needed to take an even more pronounced taper next week.

Today (Sunday) I wanted to do an over-distance swim just to make sure my endurance is up to par (not that it would matter now!). So, I swam 5000 meters continuous at a decent output. It took me 1 hour 15 minutes and 35 seconds. Considering it was 1200 meters long then I will have to swim, I am happy with how it felt. I am really hoping to improve upon my swim time from my last Ironman!

Overall, I’m happy with how this training block has gone (70.3 Worlds until now). It certainly didn’t go as good or as smoothly as I imagined it, but given the circumstances, I think it went well. I am excited to get out there and see what happens. Since this is a very momentous occasion for me (on many different levels) I will do a separate post sometime this week on the significance of this race for me, as well as where my headspace is at going into it.

Thanks for reading and following along!

24 thoughts on “Final IMFLA Training

  1. Maybe I’m just old..but your training numbers scare me lol. I’d wish you luck in Florida but luck is for those who haven’t prepared. Obviously not an issue for you. All the same..rubber side down. Sorry to your competition in advance..this is gonna hurt.

  2. Good luck in Florida. I think a lot of people will be interested in your result. Race your race, as I am sure you will and I think we will be wowed!!

    BTW: What grade do you run on your TM?

  3. The taper looks really good and by race day I suspect you will be ready to have some fun! I’m curious about the treadmill grade as well 🙂
    I will be tuned in on Saturday – Good luck!

    • Thanks for the comments! On my treadmill at home I don’t run with any grade i.e. 0%. I have several reasons here. The first and biggest is that I believe my treadmill at home goes faster than it says it does. Any time I do a workout at the gym, I am usually running 0.2-0.5mph faster to achieve the same perceived exertion. At the gym I will usually run at 0.5-1% grade if I want the save perceived exertion at the same speed I run at at home. In most instances though, I will just run at a faster speed. The only time I use the incline on my home treadmill is when doing Vo2Max intervals. 12mph (the max speed of my treadmill) is not fast enough to give my Vo2Max a good taxing, so I will put it up to 2% for these intervals, depending on where my fitness is at. But this leads me to my second reason why I don’t like to tinker with the incline. I think it puts a constant stress on the body that you don’t find in most running races i.e. a constant slope upwards. Thus, I prefer to use it only sparingly. Over the winter I will get a new treadmill that goes up to 15mph and from then on I will never use the incline, only increase the speed when perceived exertion is not high enough.

      Another question I am often asked is transferability of treadmill running and paces to outside. I think this probably varies for everyone. For me, I find everything transfers over very well. For instance, I did all of my training for a 30k race last year on the treadmill. I did my race pace intervals at 11.8mph i.e. 3:10/km. I then went and did the race and averaged 3:14/km for 30 kilometers. I would attribute the 4 second per kilometer difference to the fact that the third 10k of the race was quite hilly. I went through 20k in 1:03:04, which is 3:09/km. But, this result may not be the same for everyone. I have spent about 15 years of my running career running on pavement, so I may have built up adaptations from them that are carrying over right now.

      • If you have a magnetic speed sensor on a bike you can always turn on the treadmill and compare the bike speed (bike on treadmill) and treadmill speed and then using daniels incline chart figure out the equivalent pace you are running on the treadmill. another thought I had was that if you are basing your intervals instead of time running it may be skewed. because 1km at 3:45/km (16.1km/h) while putting out the same effort of a 3:35/km or whatever because of your treadmill being fast you theoretically ran a pace of 3:35/km for 1.05km (3:45min) which will add up in your marathon long workouts. I can’t wait to watch you race. I remember first meeting you 5 years ago and it’s been very motivational to watch you improve through honest hard work.

  4. Dude. No need to justify yourself to anyone. Do what you do best. Train and race fast! . I’ll be there hopefully catching your bike as you enter t2. Can’t wait to watch the sanders train come through.
    Most of all. Have fun!

  5. Can you talk about your bike cadence? Averaging 77 RPM seems low …. when the average cyclist is closer to 90 RPM, and some are even higher. Not a criticism as it sure seems to be working! Sebi talked after 70.3 worlds about how impressive you were going by on a bike that sounded like it would explode any second. Ben Hoffman said that you flew by. Is this a conscious thing you do, or just what feels comfortable?

    Really looking forward to following you on Sunday… I assume you’ve heard the crap Starykowicz has been spouting off, will that add fuel to your fire?

    • Thanks for the comment Dustin. Originally I thought nothing of it. Then I had a few comments about it i.e. that it seems too low. So I started thinking about it. I talked to a few people and they said 90RPM seems to be where most of my competitors are riding at. So, I started trying to alter it. I went to Syracuse 70.3 and had what I think to be my worst bike performance in my life. I then asked a few of my most trusted advisers and they said that cadence is mainly a byproduct of biology. 77-80RPM is just what feels right and natural to me. If I try and increase it by any significant amount, I feel totally out of rhythm and have difficulty producing power. The logic tends to be that the higher cadence “saves your legs” for the run. But, at Raleigh 70.3 for instance, I pushed 80RPM for 90k, and then ran 1:09:56 for the half-marathon. I’m not really convinced that cadence has much of an effect on anything, unless of course you strive to ride at a cadence that is not fit for your biological makeup.

      As for the comments, it certainly hasn’t lessened my motivation!

  6. lionel, I have enjoyed reading all your post this year, very inspiring. I’ve bragged about you to all my american friends. You’ve had a great year. Just go have fun this weekend, it will al come together.

  7. Freakin Machine, Pretty sure you are going to crush the field this weekend. I truly have no clue how you stay injury free. Good genes or do you have a pretty good prehab routine established? Best of luck this weekend man, crush Starky.

    • Thanks Chris. In all honesty, from what I can tell, “durability” seems to be mainly a genetic feature. I don’t do any sort of prehab, message, stretching, etc. I’ve had two messages in the last six months, that’s about it for prevention, etc. On the other hand, I know people who are the same age and younger, who operate on much lower volume, do injury prevention daily i.e. stretching, message, ice bath, controlled diet, etc. and yet still get injured. I Think the key is to know where you fit in the spectrum and then work with that. That being said, I’ve been advised that you tend to “be able to do what you want until you’re 30.” At that point (apparently) message etc. becomes significantly more important. I do plan on implementing a bit of prehab at some point in the future.

  8. Could you talk about how you distribute your bike training volume over the different training zones during your Ironman build vs your 70.3 build? Thanks a lot and have a lot of fun in Florida! Good luck!!

    • Thanks for the comment Matt. I will do a post on this after Ironman Florida when I can compare two different builds e.g. 70.3 Worlds and Ironman Florida, and compare feel, performance, etc.

  9. Best of luck on race day Lionel! Clearly you’ve got your training volume nailed down, but I was wondering if you spend much time working on the other aspects of triathlon, particularly refining your aero position? At your speeds, it would seem that even a small reduction in drag would have a considerable impact on your speed. Have you ever spent time in a wind tunnel?

  10. Hi Lionel, Thank you for such an intimate look into your training. I’m not sure if you addressed this but why do you do all of your training on the treadmill and trainer? Thanks!

  11. Hi Lionel

    I was wondering how a complete week of training looks including all 3 sport and strengthwork if you do that. It could be interesting to see a summerweek as well as a Winther week. Seems you spend a lot more time on the bike in the summer with lower intensity and really high intensity in the Winther?

    Also your training looks like it is very focused around high intensity and or specific workouts towards your next race even in the Winther when there is a long time before your next race – is that so? Do you ever have some off-season and get out of shape and do you sometimes just do basetraining with a focus more on aerobic endurance, strength and tequnique?

    Good luck for the weekend. I predict you will win in 7:50 (56-4:10-2:40) 🙂

Comments are closed.