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Training For Ironman Austria 2006


I started training for triathlon at the end of 2003, coming from a very lazy background with no previous sporting activity. After a lot of sprints, Olympics and a half Ironman I decided I'd have a bash at a full Ironman. In July 2005 I completed Ironman Austria in 12:58:14. You can read about all my races and event history using the drop down menu at the top. After Austria 2005 I quickly decided I wanted to give my best shot at an Ironman, set up the whole season for one race and do my very best to put in the best time I had in me on that day. Total focus for Ironman Austria 2006.

This page is to document my progress, training and, hopefully, to show that Ironman isn't that difficult. I'm completely self coached but rely on the help of the good people from forum who have offered me first class advice, inspiration and kept me going throughout my triathlon life. This page describes my training and is therefore specific to me but feel free to use what you want. For information, I've listed my training for IM Austria 05 HERE.

I'll have several training blocks, all 28 days each, that contain three hard weeks followed by a fourth rest/recovery week. Each will have a set target and schedule that I'll explain as I go and do my best to keep to. The panel on the right is a list of links I use regularly to plan my sessions and plot my progress (plus a few other useful one's thrown in for good measure).

Each training block is four weeks but not each week in the block is the same. The idea is to vary the load on the body to maximise the adaptation time and to use your time wisely to develop your body.

Phase 1 - Technique

Between now and January 29th, work on technique. Keep the sessions fairly informal but really get the technique down. For me that means learning to swim, I've messed around with swimming for far to long and I really need to learn how to swim properly. There's nothing wrong with my swim endurance and I can swim 4km fairly easily so I'm guessing my stroke isn't a total disaster but however fast I try to swim it always ends up being the same speed. So I'll get some lessons from Sleekerswim and sort it out.

I'll also make sure my running technique is OK and I'm not getting sloppy. I spent a lot of time last autumn working on my running so I'll make sure it's still OK this autumn. That includes making sure I don't heel strike to badly and I have a quick turnover and shorter strides where my foot lands under my body, not way out in front.

I'm fairly happy with cycling but I'll make a few small changed to my bike position, mostly going lower on the front and bringing my saddle forward.

I attended the swim stroke analysis day run by Sleekerswim and immediately saw results. On the day my stroke count dropped from 17 (per 25m length) to 14 but more important than that, I now have a long list of things to work on. At last I know where I'm going wrong and have started to use my time in the pool much better. I'm also doing a coached swim session once every two weeks to keep things moving in the right direction.

I've lowered the handlebars on the bike, it's now much lower and my back is flatter. As a result of that I've moved my saddle forward and up to bring my legs and torso back into the right place. It feels pretty good, probably better than before. I'm also doing more Spinerval turbo sessions which is making me stronger on the bike. Longest ride for this phase was no more than 2.5 hours yet I still feel a better cyclist.

Totals (Jan): Swim 8.8km: (3 hours 40 mins), Bike: 547km (20 hours 34 mins), Run: 90km (9 hours 08 mins), Gym: 2 hours. Total: 35 hours 22 minutes

Phase 2 - Base 1

January 29th to February 25th.

The aim is to do four weeks of good consistent training, working to a schedule, while continuing to work on my weaknesses and avoid injury at all costs. I've been speaking to Paul from SwimSmooth who has assisted me a great deal on my swim technique. I've bought the DVD which breaks down the swim stroke into bite size pieces and for a few gold pieces he'll have a look at a couple of video's of your swim to give personal feedback. I've started swimming with Bromley Masters again for some interval training (and the chance to swim in a clear lane). For cycling I've joined a bike club, 34 Nomads, and intend to do the club 10 mile TT's for some speed work. I'm not to bad at running so just getting back into it and keeping on top of those niggles is the goal.

Swimming continues to improve and sessions are now a regular on my weekly roster now I've joined the local Masters. That gives me a good interval session once a week that I back up with a technique session with a swim coach (Sleekerswim). Thanks to Paul at SwimSmooth my swim training is following a progression and I do feel I'm getting better, even though progress is slow at times. Due to the weather I haven't been outside for more than a couple of hours on the bike, even though that's not ideal it's to be expected. I would have liked to have clocked a few more cycling miles but I'm still a long way in front of last years schedule so should take encouragement from that. Running is getting back on track and work on lowering my cruising HR is going very well, it's down from an average of 165-170bpm on my hilly 2 hour run to 148-152bpm (for a similar speed). The only downside for this phase was a cough I picked up during that last week that cost me several days of training.

Totals (Feb): Swim: 13.8km (6 hours 50 mins), Bike: 337km (13 hours 40 mins), Run: 99km (9 hours 55 mins), Gym: 2:25 hours. Total: 32 hours 51 minutes.

Phase 3 - Base 2

February 26th to March 25th

To start building up on the distances of the long bike rides. Concentrating on keeping my HR in the target zone (zone 2: 65-75%) and start work on a nutrition strategy for these longer rides that I'll use for the race. I also plan on doing more long intervals on the bike keeping heart rate at the upper end of zone 3, this should help with bike strength and build on my aerobic base. For running I'll keep things as they are, one long 10-14 mile run per week and one short faster 5 mile run. Only doing two run sessions should cut down on the chances of injury and give me more consistent training. For swimming I'll continue as I am, two sessions a week.

Training was affected by persistent coughs. I've not done much swim training at all, the breathing pattern of swimming made the cough much worse. But cycling and running have been less affected. I've had to take it easy a few times on runs but that's not such a bad thing for me, I have a tendency to self destruct on a run. I've been doing lots of long intervals on the bike to continue work on my aerobic system and during the one long outside ride I managed I felt really strong over the whole 70 miles (although it was still very cold). Also continuing work on bike strength with big gear workouts, I've made a friend in the Spinerval DVD's (Hillatious, Mental Toughness and Timetrialpalooza). For running I've taken my long run up to 15 miles which did bring on a few injury problems which luckily eased off after a week or so. My short run of the week, 5 miles, continues to get faster and faster, taking a minute or two off the time each time I run it. Feeling pretty good on the whole but need to get back to the pool.

Totals (Mar): Swim: 3.6km (1 hour 45 mins), Bike: 652km (26 hours 39 mins), Run: 104km(10 hours 19 mins), Gym: 2 hours 25 mins. Total: 41 hours, 08 minutes.

Phase 4 - Race Month

March 26th to April 22nd

This month sees a break from the traditional build up to an Ironman. As a mental break and just for the fun of it I'll take a rest from the tightly scheduled training and do a few races. This should move things nicely from base work into the higher intensity final build phase that comes next. Fortunately the weather is a lot better and I'll still be getting outside for my long run and ride each week. For races I'll be doing one triathlon, Sevenoaks Sprint, and several bike time trials starting with a 12 mile hilly then a 10 mile. The Ironman will always be on my mind and I'll not be doing anything stupid to jeopardise it but I'll definitely be having some fun.

I've put up a couple of brief race reports, have a look on the drop down menu at the top. Sevenoaks Tri went very well and I managed to sustain a hard effort for the whole race. I did slightly injure my left quad but a bit of rest and some massage sorted that out. I also did my first time trial, a club 12 mile hilly race. That was good fun and much less hassle than a triathlon. The 10 was cancelled due to road works on the course. In all, it's been a good month and included my first 100 mile ride of the year.

Totals (Apr): Swim: 8.6km (3 hours 42 mins), Bike: 606km (24 hours 58 mins) Run: 96km (9 hours 1 min) Gym: 2hrs 55 mins. Total: 40 hours, 37 minutes.

Phase 5 - The Final Push

This is the main bit, the section that all the other training and testing has been pushing towards. They'll be lots of long bike rides, long difficult runs mixed in with the regular interval sessions I've built up into my weekly routine. The first priority, even more important than hitting the training targets is to stay injury free so I'll be having more sports massages in this phase, probably every two or three weeks.

I've decided to work to a 14 day cycle to avoid the risks of injury from the long runs. If I space them out it'll give me a chance to get over them. Something like this:

Sunday: Long bike ride
Monday: Rest day
Tuesday: Swim am, Gym pm
Wednesday: Interval bike
Thursday: Long run
Friday: Swim am, Interval bike pm
Saturday: Interval run
Sunday: Long interval bike
Monday: Rest day
Tuesday: Swim am, Gym pm
Wednesday: Interval bike
Thursday: Fast longish run
Friday: Swim am, Interval bike pm
Saturday: Interval run.

This phase went very well, I got in all the long rides and runs I wanted with only one small problem on my longest run (aimed to do 20 miles) where I had to stop as I felt ill from a infection I'd picked up earlier in the week. Managed to clock 5 hours for a 100 mile time trial which is very encouraging for the race. Started to feel unwell in the final week so I eased up and started the taper early, cutting back on a few sessions.

Totals (May): Swim: 15.4km (6 hours 30 mins), Bike: 594km (24 hours 46 mins) Run: 114km (10 hours 38 min) Gym: 4hrs 15 mins. Total: 46 hours 10 minutes.

Totals (June): Swim: 14.4km (6 hours 10 mins), Bike: 739km (27 hours 54 mins), Run: 134km (12 hours 25 mins) Gym: 4 hours 20 mins. Total: 51 hours 15 minutes.

Phase 6 - The Taper

Time to back everything off and recover from all those hard sessions. Unfortunately I seem to be recovering from a cold or something so any thought of putting in a few high intensity sessions has gone out the window. Most important thing now is to get to the start line in a fit state to execute the best race within me.

Race Report: Ironman Austria 2006

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