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Ironman UK 2007 Training Plan

Year Three, Race Four

Last years build up to Ironman Austria went pretty well, had no injuries to speak of and I felt good in the race, but due to the weather I didn't really test it out fully (the heat making running very difficult). I wasn't sure this year if it was a good idea to do the same sort of training again or do something different. It had become apparent that I wasn't doing enough running so I spent the winter months working on that weakness but from mid-December until early March I had endless coughs and colds which put a stop to any sort of structured programme. In the end I decided I would do a similar build for IMUK as I did in 2006 for IMA.

Basically that means splitting the run and bike build up into two and doing them at different times. This means I escape injury problems and can focus on one discipline at a time and not hammer cycling and running together. Then once a dedicated running and cycling phase is complete, spend the final 10 weeks before the race putting them together with a phase of intensive training that should build peak fitness for the race. I decided that the final phase would see me doing century rides on alternate weekends with a 20 mile, or at least a long run, on the other weekend. Again, this is to keep away from injury problems when doing 20 mile runs and century rides in the same week. Lots more intervals and hill work is also planned, IMUK is that sort of race.

The Basic Plan

From the start of March until April 22nd work on distance running and finish it off with the London Marathon. This phase will see me finally putting in 20 mile runs and working on my run feed strategy for running, something I've not done in previous years. Cycling during this phase will be short and sharp, mostly made of up turbo sessions of around an hour focussing on power output and Zone 3 work. From late April I will be working on cycling and easing back on running. Cycling will hopefully ramp up pretty quickly and long 5 hour rides should make an appearance. This will correspond with the start of the Time Trial season so I will race on alternative weekends to build on speed and on the other weekend build on endurance. Running will continue as before but without the long run, probably capping it to a couple of hours. I haven't set any targets for the race other than to put in a good effort for the whole race, ie not hammer the bike and walk the run. When I did the race in 2005 I finished in 13:45 getting a PB is obviously a basic target.

Phase 1 - Running

The long run increased in distance from the start of February, going up in stages: 12, 14, 15, 16, 17 and then 20. This was my first ever 20 mile run so I gave it my usual "breakthrough session" rules of just getting it done and allowing myself stops to eat or rest. It went well enough until mid week the following week when my lower back became very sore resulting in a visit to the physio. He quickly diagnosed a hip problem where my Sac joint had seized on the right side making the whole of the right hip section tilt forwards. He suspected it's been like it for a long time and gave me exercises to do. Two weeks later was the second 20 mile run, this time run without stops but still without a target time, and there were no problems. As alarming as this injury was, very painful at times, it's a good thing to get it out the way good and early in the season. The plan to split the training has paid off. These long runs have been backed up with one hard interval session aimed at getting my 5km run time down a bit and one tempo run which is about an hour of high effort running. I've also set up my run courses to take in as many hills as possible, to get used to them for the IMUK run.

Phase 2 - Cycling

I didn't do the London Marathon due to illness and have carried my entry over to 2008. At the start of May I managed to injure a disk in my back (L3/4) which was very painful and bought all training to a stop for a couple of weeks. But the physio fixed that and I got back to it. However, illness was still a major problem and it seemed I was going around in circles of a couple of decent sessions followed by a spell of illness. Nothing specific, a bit of a cough, feeling off, that sort of things but enough for me to take notice and back things off until it went away. The whole of the bike phase went like this and I didn't put in any long rides, nothing over 3 hours. But I didn't panic, still plenty of time until race day.

The Final Push

As I entered the final 12 weeks I needed to have a think about where I was. I'd had hip problems, discs in my back getting bulged, endless sickness and I was clearly doing something very wrong. But as much as I thought about it I couldn't put my finger on it and decided I needed help. I email Paul Newsome at Swimsmooth and he took me on as one of his coached athletes. With only 12 weeks to go there wasn't much time to strike up a deep relationship but I figured with a correctly structured plan I might get the right mix of hard and long sessions and avoid sickness. Other than a mile calf strain things were going well and I began to get some decent training in. The distances were kept sensible but I don't think my endurance was a problem, I just needed to get to the start line in good shape to start the race.

But with about 5 weeks to go I had 'an episode'. I was out on a long ride and at about half way I suddenly didn't want to be doing triathlon anymore. I couldn't think of any reason why I wanted to ride that day and my motivation for the race had gone. I wasn't enjoying the training or the thought of racing. Three days later I set off for a 20 mile run and got 5 minutes in and just stopped, I couldn't be bothered with it and walked around the woods for a bit then went home. Fortunately Paul spotted the problem very quickly - over training. I was displaying many of the classic symptoms but I couldn't see it. Paul scrapped the schedule and my taper was three weeks solid rest. As that phase went on my enthusiasm for training and racing came back and with a few days to go I did a couple of sessions just to shake the legs out. Everything felt OK and I got to the start line.

Race Report: Ironman UK 2007

Article on over training:

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