It was just over 6 months ago that I set my sights on Ironman France. Now time is passing rapidly as I look at only 2.5 months left until race day. Training has continued to be solid although it is always difficult to figure out exactly where you are without having any races to benchmark. If New Orleans is any indication, I am behind on running relative to 2009 IM Canada, when I set my PB marathon in Mississauga. Yet from a training perspective, I am feeling stronger on the run than I ever have. I love the fact that the "days" are getting longer, enabling more training time in daylight.
So what am I doing and what are my benchmarks?
Swimming continues to be a minor focus with mostly maintainance swimming. Much of my swim routine is a mix of IM pacing and speed work with a strong desire to deliver 1:50 100s without significant expenditure of effort on race day. Thus far it feels like I in the ballpark and I will likely ramp the swimming up a bit more over the next 6 weeks.
Biking has been a real good grind over the winter. Much of my work has been on the computrainer at Wattsup. The reason I joined BCC many years ago was to gain confidence in bike handling particularly during challenging descents or in crowds of riders. BCC has been absolutely instrumental in delivering on both through club rides and racing. This background also gives me the ability to stay indoors for longer where I believe the quality of workout is far higher than is currently available outside. This allows me to focus on bike fitness versus bike handling. For IM France, I am planning to ride my road bike despite having just purchased a Cervelo P3C (see the classifieds if you need a P2SL - great bike). After getting my road bike fitted for me with the addition of some shorty aerobars, I have been riding it on the trainer. Testing results would suggest that I have experienced a material improvement in my level of fitness. From November through the end of March, my watts have increased by about 13% to a lactate threshold of 270. My 20 minute time trial test has also improved nicely, from averaging 280 watts for the 20 minutes to now holding 305 watts for the 20 minutes. I don’t think these advances would have been possible without the effort on indoor riding. For those who doubt the benefits, there was a great article in last month's "Inside Triathlon" discussing the value of indoor riding. Most weeks my riding consists of a structured 90 minutes during the week and then 3 hours on the weekend when i try to keep the watts in the 230-240 range, while maintaining a cadence of 90-95. This is a practice that has taken some effort, but feels quite comfortable at this point. The riding will also ramp over the coming weeks, with the expectation that I will need to deliver 6 hour rides by the end of May (Lake Ontario to Lake Simcoe and back - Anyone?).
Finally my running is getting better. I plan on running the Good Life half marathon in May as a warm-up and to get a sense of my running fitness. Training on the run is 3 to 4 times a week with 2 structured runs, generally at least 1 brick run off the back of a ride and then my “long” weekend run on Saturdays. My goal is to deliver a sub 4 hour marathon at IM France, a material improvement over Canada. Training has been interesting as my coach continues to emphasize speedwork during the week. I have started to imbed Yasso 800s into my weekend runs. For the runners in the club, this is modeled after Bart Yasso’s theory that a runner’s time for 800m, repeated 10 times (with similar timed recoveries) should match their marathon time! While there is no mathematical reason why this should be so, it appears that it does seem to work. Last week I got through 6 repeats, on my way to 10 (add 1 repeat per week) and I am averaging a 3:16 for the 800 – ohh how I hope Bart is right!!
The beauty of yoga. While my wife is a veritable yogi, I have not spent a lot of time doing yoga in the past. Now, I have been getting in a minimum of an hour a week, and lately almost 2 hours. What a great workout. I believe the effort has created a stronger core, better breathing habits, and increased flexibility. I believe all of these are key to enhancing performance.
To there it is, with just 10 weeks left, my training is being taken up a level. More time and more intensity. As long as I stay off the injury list, I believe IM France is setting up to be a PB.
I look forward to seeing all of you on the roads in the weeks to come.