Over the years, my training has changed tremendously. I wasn't sure how to approach the training as an endurance athlete so I followed the crowd and trained twice a day, long workouts on the weekends and dreaded the recommended "off" day on Monday.
It worked for my first Ironman, so I decided that if more is better, I should do even more than before. However, I became injured and extremely fatigued for my second Ironman and now I pay for that race (2007 Ironman World Championship) a few times every year since.
With Karel's thinking outside the box, we have adapted a philosophy of "train hard, recover harder".
Training is periodized so that we peak at the right time and training stays balanced with life. Every workout has a purpose, there are no junk miles and we have fun seeing progress.
Sometimes there are off days but there are a lot of great days. The off days finish with the mindset that we accomplished something that we almost didn't start and the great days finish with motivation for the next workout.
There is an understanding that for the body to adapt to training stress and improve performance/fitness, there must be training stress. There is commitment to the training plan and a realization that you can either make excuses or progress. But when there is too much training stress, it is hard to adapt in a positive manner. Therefore, we have learned how to create training plans for me (and for my athletes and pre-built plans) that provide workouts for gains in speed, endurance and fitness and balance in life. For if you are burnt out, sick, injured or on the verge of injury, adaptations can not take place. Our bodies get tired with our training load but it is not to the point that we can't recover to set up ourselves for a great next training session the following day. There are recovery days, there is an appreciation of other important areas in life that can bring fitness gains (balanced diet, understanding of proper fueling around/during workouts, compression, epson salt baths, restful sleep, massages, good attitude, mental strength, hip/core work, stretching) and most importantly, the training plan is designed for long-term success.
Everything is coming together amazingly well for Kona in just 5 weeks! I do not expectations of being on the podium but instead, having a strong race. It is an honor for me to race at the Ironman World Championship for the third time and my #1 goal is to arrive to the starting line healthy, injury free and hungry to race.
Just like every Ironman, I really love the journey. Still reminding myself that I just did an Ironman 6 weeks ago (with 2 weeks of recovery), I am constantly thanking my body for what it is allowing me to do. Thanks to Karel having a very good understanding of my body (which is important for any athlete who works with a coach to consider the long-term investment that is required for a coach to understand how you, the athlete adapts to training), he has developed a perfect plan for me to get even stronger, faster and more efficient before Kona.
There are no two-a-days and my weekly hours are around 15-16 hours a week. I have yet to do a bike ride over 4.5 hours and my longest run was 15 miles last weekend. I run an average of around 15-30 miles a week, with most of my runs off the bike. Every workout has a main set and my sets are typically long on the bike and RPE focused for the run. I swim 2-3 days a week (depending on my choice of day off or active recovery) and my swims are around 3500-4500 on average - with more yardage because I love to swim and sometimes have trouble getting out of the water when my inner fish comes out. I do hip/core work every night for 15 minutes + stretching and I do hip/core work in the gym twice a week.
The best thing about quality training is the energy that I have for life. Rather than having an expectation as to how much I need to train each week, I have my week laid out (hospital/home with my business) and I have a training plan that allows me to separate my work time from training time. Even though I work from home and have flexibility with my work day (which is typically 8-10 hours a day dedicated to Trimarni), I would rather walk Campy in the evening, cook a delicious creation and go to bed early instead of squeezing in another workout in the evening. I give myself 2-2.5 hours every morning for myself to train during the week and I like to be finished training by noonish on the weekends. This doesn't mean that I have train all those hours and as much as I love to train, I like to see progress. I also respect my body and understand that too much training stress does not make me a better athlete but instead, an active individual with a dampened immune system.
I really love this article Recover Right which include tips from Coach Matt Dixon from Purple Patch Coaching who is a strong believer in the "less is more" approach.
Just to be clear - training smarter doesn't mean that I don't take risks. Just like any athlete, I love to push my body and not always does it work in my favor. But the most important thing I can do as an athlete and fitness enthusiast is appreciate the value of recovery. Your progress as an athlete is only as good as your ability to recover from workouts. Every athlete is different and keep in mind that as life changes, so does your training routine. The best thing you can do as an athlete is make it all work by focusing on your needs, your body and your goals.
Here's a recap of my training this week:
Tues - day off from all training. 20 minutes of stretching in the evening and a 40 minute Campy walk in the am and several mini Campy walks during the day around the block.
Wed - 4300 swim + 1 hour spin (brick)
Swim main set 3x's:
300 steady at IM pace
4 x 50's fast on :45 seconds
Thurs - (in Macon) - 1:15 run of intervals (I rarely have mile-based runs for weekly runs, instead I go by time)
1 mile warm-up
Main set 6x's: over/under thresholds
1/2 mile @ sub 7:30 min/mile, 1/2 mile "slower" w/ 1 minute in between
(I did this around the block at Stefanies which was a perfect 1/2 mile loop). I went 100% by perceived exertion and ended up descending the 1/2 miles (thanks to my fast twitch fibers waking up over the set) and getting a little slower on the 1/2 mile "slower". I averaged around 6:33-7:15 min/mile for the first 1/2 mile and around 7:40-8:15 min/mile for the last 1/2 mile.
Last mile cool down and then 1/2 mile or so with Campy.
8 miles total.
10 x 100's on 1:30 (holding 1:20)
500 pull w/ paddles/buoy steady (holding 1:27 pace)
5 x 100's on 1:30 (holding 1:19)
500 pull w/ paddles/buoy steady (holding 1:30 pace)
400 kick (50 free, 50 fly kick fast)
Bike - (even though a shorter bike, this allowed me to push a little harder to receive a bit more stress without risking fatigue from long volume. This also allowed me to run on "tired" legs for training stress which is more valuable to my body than a "long" run on fresh legs).
1 hour warm-up building to IM pace wattsMain set 3x's
5 min Z4, 10 min Z3 low (IM watts), 5 min Z4, 10 min Z3 low
5 min EZ
(30 min main set + 5 min recovery)
Total 60 miles
Run off the bike (starting at 10:30 am)
8 x 1 miles @ RPE 80% effort (I managed to hold around 8 min/miles which really made me happy. I knew my HR would go up over time as it was nearing 92 degrees when I finished my bike according to my Garmin so I just monitored my HR to keep under 160 as I knew that was too high for me and I would have trouble recovering from a long run off the bike with a high HR even if I wasn't running "fast") w/ 30 sec walk in between. At 4 miles, I walked 1 total minute to refill my flasks.
Last mile + extra was "cool down"
Stats from my 910 XT (SO happy with this run as well as the entire workout today - what a solid workout for my body)
9.49 miles8:26 min/mile pace (including walking)
Average HR 154
Mile 1: 8:04, 134 HR
30 sec walk, 138 HR
Mile 2: 7:56, 146 HR
30 sec walk, 138 HR
Mile 3: 7:57, 149 HR
30 sec walk, 140 HR
Mile 4: 7:57, 153 HR
1 min walk, 143 HR
Mile 5: 8:05, 154 HR
30 sec walk, 152 HR
Mile 6: 8:02, 156 HR
30 sec walk, 153 HR
Mile 7: 8:06, 157 HR
30 sec walk, 153 HR
Mile 8: 8:05, 157 HR
30 sec walk, 155 HR
Mile 9: 8:40, 170 HR (Super hot but felt really "EZ" but HR was not showing that it was EZ. Massive rush of blood to try to cool my body.)
2 minutes (.32): 8:20, 182 HR (officially done!)
Sunday (tomorrow) - 5 hour ride + 1 mile run
Total training hours: ~17 (including the 4 hours on Monday due to the holiday and three day training block)
You might be a triathlete when.....your car looks like this!