Probably for no one’s interest but my own sanity, it’s time for me to check in a bit more specifically on how the first half of 70.3 training has gone, since, holy crap, we’re more than halfway there!
My outdoor riding game is almost as on fleek as my selfie game as the kids probably no longer say.
First of all, as I’ve mentioned before, the comparison game is SO HARD to avoid. Each year with a 70.3 has been unique but has always centered on the Kerrville Half being my A race.
- In 2012, I trained so hard to make sure I could do the distance, and arrived at the end of the summer in burnout (though I finished, and learned a lot along the way).
- 2013, I overcame injury earlier in the year to conquer the first on minimal training and on the second, PR (and probably indirectly saved myself from some burnout by being benched for 6 weeks).
- 2014, I took a mid-summer offseason, and banking on previous endurance, did a short and steep 8 week climb to the race, which resulted in another awesome PR.
- Since that worked out so well, in 2015, I did the same thing, and ended up having the universe and my uterus conspire against me and barely salvaged not-a-personal-worst on a mildly broken bike and body.
After the spectacular 2015 fail, I didn’t want revenge. I wanted this year to be different.
- First of all, I have given myself about double the runway (16 weeks instead of 8). This has allowed me to ramp up more gradually. Frankly, I spent about half this cycle with the plan of “doin’ stuff for about 7-10 hours a week”, but that fluidity built me a good endurance base without all the burnout that is associated with having to run 6 miles at 7am on a Tuesday at x pace because the plan said so. I’m now at the half of the cycle where I need to train specifically for about two months and I’m ready for it.
- Also, I’ve chosen a different race, Austin IM 70.3, 5 weeks later. The record high is 90, and the record low is 30, so it’s a grab bag of what we’ll actually get, but it’s MUCH more likely to be cooler.
- Speaking of different race… different course! I can hope for a PR/to hit certain numbers/etc, but a different course means it’s not a direct measuring stick of I MUST PR EVERY LEG OR I’M A FAILURE. The bike is a little harder with ~500 more feet of elevation gain, more steep hills vs gradual hills. The run should be a little easier with 100-ish feet TOTAL elevation change, a 3 loop course that gives you a dose of AC each time, and it’s also highly likely to be a cooler day, which give me a bonus of as much as a minute per mile with similar effort than feels like 90-100.
- The other huge plus is the race starts 15 mins away from my house, so I get to sleep in my own bed, can do a warmup swim in my own pool/lake the day before, and eat familiar food. The drawback is the day before, I have to establish STRICT boundaries about no chores, no other humans around, just relaxing, because a whole day off on the weekend? That never happens, and it will be so tempting to do all the things.
And I get to ride bikes here! Total perk!
So, we’re 7 weeks (ok, 6 weeks, 5 days, but whatevs). How am I doing?
Overall headspace: turning a corner just this week. I had some freakouts last week that I’m not training enough, I’m going to be woefully unprepared, etc. Then I started looking at what I’ve done and how much time I have left, and I started to feel wayyyy better. I need some specificity in my life, as I said above, but the foundation and basic structures of this house are pretty well built, actually. The next four weeks about filling out the major features, and then the last three are about painting the walls, putting up light fixtures, etc.
Strengths right now:
- Strength. I’m pretty solid right now in terms of core and body strength (thx u weights). I don’t feel like I’m pushing the boundaries of what my body is capable of and enduring tons of minor aches and pains.
- Swim endurance. Thanks to the swim challenge, I’ve done at least the half iron distance (1.4 to 2.8 miles) 4 times in open water this summer, and haven’t felt too much worse for wear after them. My regular swims of 1500m just feel like happy fun water time with very little fatigue after.
- Bike endurance. I still can improve here, but I’ve done two outdoor rides already (63, 53) that are longer than my longest last cycle (50). I have done four 3+ hour rides, and I have a few more planned before shutting it down.
- Bike handling. Obviously a work in progress as well, but I was able to ride with a group of non-n00bs yesterday and not feel completely like a square peg in a round hole. I ride my bike outside at least 3 times a week now and I don’t suck at it nearly as much.
- Accidental run endurance. I had this as a weakness two days ago when I started writing this post, but then I went out and ran 10 miles (almost double my previous long run) with 2 race pace miles at the end like it was no big deal. Endurance is endurance is endurance, I guess. I’ll take it.
- Weather acclimation. I may bitch about it, but I’m handling the summer temps like a champ. I was super excited about today’s run which wasn’t even in the 90s!
I’m sure this me doesn’t completely agree on the acclimation part. I don’t have to like the heat, I just have to get through (and I did).
Weaknesses right now:
- Overall speed. I found a glimmer of hope in my relay race, but then figured out I was 13 sec/mile slower than last year (8:48 vs 9:09 pace), so there’s that. I have been sacrificing any real speedwork to log enough hours to build endurance.
- Brick work. I usually do a lot of these, but tallying up my training, I’ve done only done 10 bricks in the last 4 months (counting races), and nothing longer than 4 miles (and mostly 1-2). I used to push about 2 per week, and that might be overkill, because I tend to run really well off the bike in practice, but maybe that’s because I practiced it so often, hmmm? Either way, I should be doing more than one every other week.
- Ease on the TT bike. I’ve solidly PR’d my last 2 bike legs, so something is going at least sorta right, but it’s hard for me to stay in aero. On the trainer, it’s a comfort issue. My crotch is simply not used to being smashed that way for that long yet in tri shorts, and I have to wiggle around to find the upper body position that’s correct and doesn’t make my arms and shoulders sore. On the road, I’m just not confident in the position with traffic on the road. Every car that passes, every turn, everytime something makes me jump… I am up out of aero. Luckily, during races I’m less of a weenie.
So, how am I going to bridge the gap in the coming weeks?
This is the goal. This is always the goal.
Last half September focuses:
- Eeking out more bike endurance. I’d like a 50 mile ride to be NBD by October 1. It’s totally doable right now but still kind of a BD.
- A long ride approaching race distance on the TT bikes outside. Planned for this weekend.
- Ramping up the run miles. I don’t plan on doing ANYTHING with intensity, save racing the Kerrville Olympic on Sept 25, but I need to be running: a) double digits every other week and b) running more often/more miles.
- Weights are now in maintenance mode. I will not be increasing reps or weights at this point. 1x week at the gym lifting, 1x week with bodyweights and bands at the most.
- Swim, continue with the status quo. Twice a week, about a mile per session, open water when I can.
First half of October:
- Longer run bricks. I need to run some 10ks off the bike to feel better about running a half on race day. I’m planning on a long simulation day, where I ride the actual 70.3 course and follow it up with a 10k run, as the last workout before taper time.
- Bike intensity. After I’m clear of the 3+ hour rides (which will start to ramp down at this point) and the fatigue fades, I want to at least CONTINUE with harder rides, if not up the ante to prepare my legs for those hills.
- Continue with the run mile increase. I plan to top out around a modest 25 mile peak week a few weeks out (and most should be about 15-20), so my legs should be in decent shape just in time.
- This is where weights can start falling off if they need to. I won’t be happy about skipping them entirely, but a quick 15-20 min band/core session 1-2x week will do.
- Swimming as above.
Second half of October:
- Bike and run endurance is in the bank by this time. I need to use my best judgement to shed fatigue and keep form. The best things I can do for myself are workouts that keep my sharp and that increase my confidence, which is usually shorter speed workouts (but not *too* many – I’ve done that and spent all my cash before race day).
- Swim – since I’ll be backing off on the bike and the run, I’ll push this a little. More open water race pace swims.
- Weights – cut out entirely 2 weeks before the race.
- Taper –
- 25% reduction 3 weeks out (about 9 hours). Pretty much a normal week with a shorter long ride and long run.
- 50% or more week 2 (6 hours). This will really be my rest week. If I’m feeling fatigue or burnout here, things will be cut to be shorter, less intense, or eliminated entirely. There are two key workouts on the plan totaling 3 hours. If that’s all I do, that’s fine.
- Race week – something every day (save 2 days out) to keep myself sharp. I generally don’t perform great IMMEDIATELY after a rest week, I need the training to pick up a little first. I should have energy, enthusiasm, and feel like each session is way too short. If not, the scissors come out again, because rest is priority.
Attacking specific training for the next month and a half like…
Going through all this has helped me lay out a specific plan for the next 7 weeks. Some of the stuff coming up in the next few weeks is a little intimidating, but exciting. I’m genuinely excited to see what happens when I toe the line October 30th, and I haven’t been able to REALLY say that with enthusiasm in quite a while. And that makes me more excited!