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Is my IM training logic flawed?

I'm in IMUK in August, and it's my first step upto the big distance, as I only made HIM last year. The plan I'm working too is an adapted verison of the Competetive plan from BeIronFit, which I've tweaked to suit my own personal situation, but the key workouts and structure of the plan remain. However, rather than trying to focus intently on all three discplines concurrently, I've decided to have a main sport focus whilst the other two are just maintained.

My initial focus is running, which is my weakest, and since October 2009 I been running as much as I can. To maintain my focus over the colder winter months I entered a series of coastal trail half marathons, which are not fast events, but they are bloody tough. Rough trail, mud, wet, sandy runs, with killers hills, and I've been doing one a month (next one this Saturday). My logic being is that if I can complete an extremely hard run, then come IM day, a flatish path run will be easier, and so far it seems to be working, and I'm doing 20 mile long runs on the weekend withou tany ill effects.

I was also conscious that I've never run a marathon. So I've targeted March as being my main run focus month, as this gives me 4-5 months before IMUK. I've therefore entered the Wye Ultra, which is a 30 mile event. My intention is to use this as a run and not a race, to test my pacing and nutrition, and to see if I can cover the distance, and I'm intending using a run-walk strategy, which I know I'll end up using in IM. I decided to run over the marathon distance so I also get a huge mental boost, which also seems to be part of fighting the IM fear.

Then in late March, I'm doing a hilly half marathon in Pembrokeshire on the Saturday, and then a trail half marathon in the Forest of Dean on the Sunday. The reasoning behind this is I always run the bigger distances after a good rest so I have fresh legs, but by doing two on a weekend, it'll force me to cover the half marathon distance on tired and aching legs, again something I'm sure I'll have in August.

Once I've got these two challenges over with, I should have the run endurance covered, and then it's just maintaining it whilst concentrating on the swim and bike.

April will be swim focused, culminating in a 5km swimathon, and a 3km OW swim. Again, once these are achieved, then it's just maintaining swim efficiency and fitness.

May and early June are bike focused, with three 100+ mile sportives booked in to provide an easier long ride, as they are fully supported, so I'm not so self reliant, or lonely.

End of June I'm in IMUK 70.3, which I'm intending on using as a long workout day, testing pacing, equipment, nutrition etc, but it's also my B race, just in case something comes off the rails.

July is general training, and boosted by some some other sprint and longer distance Tri's, aquathlons and long OW swims.

And then August brings IMUK, and subject to a proper recovery I'm looking to maintain fitness and tackle either the Big (or Little) Woody at the end of the month.

When I structured the plan this way it seemed to make sense to me, but then I'm a NumpT. Having a specific focus for each month, and key events seemed to add something to an otherwise repetitive plan.

Those of you who have, or are going down the IM road, am I setting myself up for trouble if I'm not fully focused on all three disciplines all the time, but only focusing on one and merely maintaining the other two. Thoughts?


  • danny_sdanny_s Posts: 235
    How much swim and cycling training are you doing while you're on a run focus? If you don't have a presence of at least 3 swims and 3 good rides a week, I'd be worried. It really ruins me for the next day or two if I go for a 100mi ride when my riding has consisted of mainly 1 hour 3x/week.

    Also, the recovery from a 30mile run is going to be a long time, probably 2 weeks, unless you're already on a huge mileage base and just looking to get around the course. That will have a negative impact on your workouts for a while. If you're dead set on a massive run then why not do something like 16-18 miles saturday and another on sunday? the recovery would be much less, but you'd certainly get a huge aerobic weekend.
  • agent_tiagent_ti Posts: 306
    It all depends on your current levels of fitness in each one, and how competitive you want to be, and how much you actually spend just ticking over the other two sports. In general it is a good idea to do a single sport specific bike block if you want to work on that area, though I would probably say you want to be covering all your bases from about 20 weeks out. I used the BeIronFit Competitive program last year for IMUK and despite a few things I didnt like, I think it is a very good plan. Once it ramped up, I was still running 50-60k a week, so plenty of mileage in there.

    Youre swimming should be OK, as long as it is not a major weakness. I would caution about spending too much time off the bike, as it generally constitues the largest part of the race, and the fresher your legs are after the bike, the better your run will be. Given that the best way to do this is generally to log lots of miles, and it takes time to build up bike fitness, you dont want to spend too long off the bike. Though if you are already a strong cyclist, one long ride and a couple of shorter ones a week should keep you ticking over.

    By the way, the first marathon I did was the one at the end of IMUK!
  • Firstly where can I find these BelronFit plans they sound interesting.

    In terms of your training focusing on one aspect is an interesting idea and in theory could work but your a also reversing the idea of periodisation during your traiathlon training.

    For example it seems as though your are focusing on increases in mileage for your running during this cycle of your plan. This is fine but this steady increase of mileage between October to March will represent a total running volume of say 60-80k/week? I can understand this but what you must note is that to maintain your run fitness you will need to stay close to this mileage per week, yes there can be small reductions but not to the extent of reducing your number of sessions (running) per week to say 2 because you just wont get the mileage in to maintain what you have built up.

    The other problem you have is that it will be very difficult to peak and taper your run fitness because your biggest mileage performed for running is going to be in March, obviously 5 months to maintain, build, peak, and taper will be a very difficult task.

    I think this kind of focused work on particular disciplines can be done but you are better using microcycles (at most 1 month) focusing on a particular discipline whilst maintaining other disciplines. You dont wont to be using macrocycles (4-6months) focusing on one particular area as it will cause peaking for races difficult. Also I would suggest that this sort of focus attention work stops 3 months out from IMUK and you donote an even amount of time to the 3 disciplines and focus on building on what you have and then peaking for the race.
  • EdstgEdstg Posts: 83
    i think you are overcomplicating things, also for me the ironman is all about the bike. I did lanzarote last year which was my first ironman. I had never run a marathon before and the longest i ran was about 18 miles prior to the race, and i still managed to run a sub 4 hour marathon(just) I think running a 30 miler seems unnecessary and you must always keep up your cycling however much running your are doing. Why are trying to split up the disciplines? when you can concentrate on all 3 at the same time. that is what the event is all about. Just don't see the reason to conc on one at a a time. what happemns when you stop your run phase? do you still run??
  • I agree with Edstg, you're over-complicating things. Training plans are very good, especially the BeIronFit ones. They're very carefully structured to allow rest days from certain disciplines, and work you up slowly. If I followed your training plan with that amount of running, I'd definitely end up with an injury.
    There really is no need to run 30 miles, and the recovery time, even if you do jog-walk, would be a long time and not beneficial at all.

    Cycle fitness really does convert to run fitness. And the beauty is, cycling is a lot less stressful on the body than running. 3 good runs a week with one of them being a long one 16,18 or 20 milers will be fine (I do a 6, a 13 and then a 16 one week and 18 the next, and then a 20 the following, returning to 16 the following). Some choose to put a marathon into their plan, but even a gentle marathon can take 2 weeks out of your plan, and lead to injury if you work to hard, too soon after it.

    Cracking nutrition and building cycling endurance is the key to Ironman, leaving you fit for the marathon.

    I really think working on all 3 disciplines simultaneously is the key, and building endurance that way, not tackling one at a time.
  • Thanks for the wise words, glad I asked the question soone rather than later.

    Any non IM events have been kicked into touch, and my training buddies informed that I won't be with them, but will target these during late 2010 and 2011.

    BeIronFit will be follwed as closely as possible from now on, and if I've got any free time I'll target the bike, rather than running, which I was doing.

    Again. thanks for the advice, and it's be heeded.
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