12 hour Ironman: training to get there

BTW, recognizing that my humour is sometimes lost on others, our picture today…now repeated a few times over the last few days…is my “Photoshop’ed” 11:58:50 finish that I’m tattooing into my brain…it actually hasn’t happened…yet…it’s derived from my first Ironman finish in 2007 at age 53…so yes that’s me, only the clock said 13:31:39….this blog is all about changing that in my 5th Ironman at age 57 🙂

As I stretch for my reach-for-the-stars goal of a 12 hour Ironman, 12 weeks from now, let’s take a look at what I’ll be doing to give myself a chance to get there.

As much High Intensity Training as I can fit in without getting injured or stale, is my mantra for the bike and run….staying efficient as I increase my stroke rate, my focus in the swim.

…there may/probably will be some adjustments depending on how things are going…and my race plan goals will be adjusted before the race, based on my training, and during the day based on conditions and how things are going

…the heat in particular means a slower than optimally predicted race pace…and although Florida is not Hawaii-hot, anything over 60F and planned paces needs to go down…like on the run even 70F turns a 10:23/mile pace into an 11:05’ish /mile pace plan according to the folks at Endurance Nation

Swim: 1:20:00 / 1:55/100 yards

Race plan: stroke rate (SR) of 1.2 (seconds) and a stroke length of 22/25 yards = 1.136 yards = 1:14:00 on a perfect, flat water day in a straight line

Training plan: I’m going to move this up from 3 to 4 swims a week…4’ish hours a week…_everything_ at 20-22 strokes per 25 yards…or less…roughly 8-9,000 yards a week ( 5-5.5miles)…and get to a comfortable 1.2 SR before race day

  1. Monday: 3,000 yard main set…intervals ranging from 50-200 yards on short rest: 1,000 @ 1.28 SR, working down to 1.20 SR over the weeks, 1,000 @ 1.15 working down to 1.1, and 1,000 @ 1.26 and working down to 1.18
  2. Wednesday: minimum 2,500 – 3,000 yards…1 hour+ moving up to 1:30 (4,000 yards +) long swim/long intervals in the 500 yard range, at 1.28-1.26 working down to 1.20-1.18 over the weeks
  3. Friday: 1,500-2,000 yards…lesson with Coach Dinah Mistilis …testing 1,000 yards every 2 weeks to verify my current training stroke rate, and stroke length at 20-22 per 25 yards or less…other/balance of session at Coach’s choice
  4. Saturday or Sunday…minimum 1,000 yards…open water to practise sighting and current or drills/form-form focused swimming

Bike: 19.5 MPH / 5:44:36

Race plan: 70% of 286 FTP = 200 Watts…that should assure me of 19.5 MPH in ‘normal’ conditions…and not far off even on a windy day

Training plan: Biking 4 days a week…which is what I do now…building from 110-170’ish miles per week…6:30 – 8:30 per week…typically every bike after a swim

  1. Monday: 1 hour: easy…recovery from the weekend
  2. Wednesday: 1 hour…follows the long run on Tuesday, so this would be my High Intensity Training day (HIT) (Z4-5) day if my legs are there…if not, recovery
  3. Friday: 1 hour…moderate ride, with intervals inserted
  4. Saturday: 3:30 building to 6 hours: long ride with as much intensity as I can stand built in…this is my default BIG ride, long with HIT in the Z3-4-5 range, so my weekly cycling cornerstone…may end up splitting the ride some weeks into a Saturday/Sunday to add on some time, and get a BIG HIT (Z4-5) ride on Saturday, and steady Z3 HIT on Sunday

Run: 10:35 min/mile / 4:37:17

Race plan: Easy pace (IM race pace potential) of a 39 vDOT = 10:23/mile at 60F…a 41 vDOT would give me 10:37/mile at 70F…a 39 vDOT at 70F only gives me 11:05/mile = 4:50:35 for the marathon

Training plan: Run 4 days a week, which is what I do now, so 3:30 – 5:00, 20-30 miles per week…if my body parts hold up…and as I’m building ‘long’ see if I can also move that vDOT up to 40, or 41 to give me more core running speed and account for the heat slowing my actual pace

  1. Tuesday: 1:30 building to 3:00’ish long run…with HIT (Z3-4-5) built in…my BIG run workout for the week
  2. Thursday: 1:00 speed day: BIG HIT (Z4-5) all the time after warmup
  3. Saturday: 30-60 minute ‘brick’ run after the long ride…easy with a negative split (faster in the second half)
  4. Sunday: 30-40 minutes easy

Strength / stretching

  1. Sunday: yoga once a week 30-60 minutes…other than that, I do no other stretching or strength

Racing Ironman: The mental training

For swimming, it’s deliberately, methodically working my stroke rate down from 1.3+ seconds to 1.2 seconds or lower while maintaining a stroke length of 20-22 or lower…my wetsuit and the salt water of the Gulf of Mexico will give me extra bouyancy…if my stroke ‘shape’ is dialed in over the next 12 weeks, and I can maintain a 1.2 second Stroke Rate…and I can stay in a straight line even with the current…I’m going to _nail_ that swim 🙂

…and if I do, given any reasonable chance on the bike with reasonable conditions, and nothing going ‘bad’, my bike is going to be laugh-out-loud-fast, with my main challenge controlling my unrelenting power to keep it down to only 200 Watts

…so that I can unleash my run…my _real_ dream…to be able to _run_ the marathon at the end, with legs with wings, with feet that fly, holding back for 20 miles…containing…still have ‘legs’ at 20 miles…6 miles to go…quads complaining…then wailing…then screaming…pressing through…it’s only an hour…pressing hard…feeling the pain…no walking….push it all…everything on the pavement…finish line…done

In the last 6 miles of the marathon of Ironman, I never look at my watch…the question has simply been, how much pain do I want to press through at that point…I’m always surprised when I see the finish line clock…I have no idea what it’s going to say

…last year, with my wetsuit zipper splitting down the back 2-300 meters into the swim, and pressing through a swim that took me over 2 hours, that led to me to being concerned about hydration, and therefore pressing the fluids, that led to overshooting on hydration on the bike, that led to peeing constantly for the last 3 hours of the bike, that led to a run that was fundamentally very relaxed, as the time pressure had long come off, as I strolled in at 14:29:30…and ready to dance the night away refreshed at the end.

This year I’d _love_ to be at 1:20 swim + :10 transition + 5:44 bike + :10 transition = 7:24…and know that I need to lay down a 4:36 marathon to get under 12 hours.

If I’m at 7:30 to 7:45 starting my run, my 12:30 goal will most likely come into play…and I’d still need a 4:45 marathon to get there.

…unless of course, my run training and weight loss give me hope that I can still hammer a marathon to get me under 12 hours…a 41 vDOT predicts an Ironman potential pace of 9:59/mile = 4:21:45 marathon on a 60F day…so I could start the run at 7:38:00…instead of 7:24…and still get there under 12 hours…so 14 minutes of off-goal ‘stuff’…

Of course, this is 12 weeks out…the final plan decided on the week/day before the race…but the beginnings of ‘mental’ training…soooo critical…because no matter what the final goals are, if I don’t fundamentally believe in my core that they are real…they are never going to happen…there are too many things on race day that will shake that belief…it can’t be something placed there 2 days before…it needs to be given roots now…so that when the doubts creep in, and the legs are tired, and my butt hurts, and my food and hydration are out of balance, that I can return to that center that I know is there…I need to trust my training…I need to know that I can hit the numbers…if something goes awry, I can adjust and get back on the path

…Ironman is a loooong race…there’s plenty of time to recover from ‘stuff’…so I keep saying to myself…listen to your body…watch your power…watch your heart rate…hit the calories and hydration that you know works…adjust for the conditions…adjust…constantly monitor and adjust…but don’t let the whining in the back of your head get to you…it’s Ironman…it’s supposed to be tough :) and _press_ to the potential that you _know_ is there

…that starts now…12 weeks out…you have to trust your training…you have to fundamentally _know_ what you can do to squash the demons that will tell you different on race day…I have 3 months to hammer in that confidence…fun 🙂


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