Today begins half ironman season, which will be very different than the first half of the year. 

Time to remember how to race for 6 hours vs 60 minutes.

Instead of short, small races where I’m running for the podium and I can almost blink before they’re over, I have longer, bigger races to tackle.  For these, my hope is that I can place in the top half of my age group, and the only thing I hope to qualify for is a post-race beer.  I can’t just wing the distance on these with the endurance I have so I actually have to start doing stuff like running for more than half an hour and swimming more than 1000yds. 

The cool thing is the rest of the year brings ALL new races, so I don’t have any course PRs or prior expectations.  It’s about kicking my own ass and pushing myself for no other reason than just to be better than before.  It’s kind of refreshing.  Also, by signing up for Waco 70.3 four weeks after Cozumel, I actually get TWO chances in extremely different conditions to test my fitness on the same build and I’m really really really looking forward to that.  Worst case, if it’s a really bad idea, I’ll get to suffer on the course with a bunch of my Bicycle Sport Shop team!

I’m attempting to continue the efforts that have been successful beyond my wildest expectations this season.  Specificity and intensity versus excessive volume are what I’m about this summer, just like I was in spring.  I’m trying to keep the same methodology but slightly longer workouts since they are slightly longer races.

The focus for the last month has been heat acclimation.  We’ve done a lot of hot, mid-day walks, runs ending as late as possible before work (sleeping in has it’s privileges…), bikes in the hot afternoon sun, and just being outside as much as possible.  One ride topped out around 100 degrees (feels like more) and I remember thinking it didn’t feel that bad (though I was happy not to be running in that yet, baby steps).  I took a walk around the block at sunset and thought it was 10 degrees cooler than the temperature showed.  I ran in feels like upper 80s and I didn’t even have curse words for it.  I did have a hard time in the heat with our 30 mile ride on Friday (some idiot nutritional factors were at play), but I have confidence that I’m getting where I need to be.

Smiles after long rides vs a month ago I was seriously hunched over my bike trying not to pass out.

If I had zero things on the schedule between now and Cozumel, I’d probably just start riding my bike a million miles in July with some short brick runs every few sessions and then transition to more running in August and faster stuff in September (kind of like my Austin 70.3 training).  However, I have to race an Olympic in five weeks and while Nationals isn’t a goal race, I don’t want to completely embarrass myself.  I need to build my run concurrently as well, peaking for a 13 mile race distance run in about 2 months.  That means I’ll need to rip off that “long run” bandaid off sooner than later.  I have 6 miles planned for tomorrow which is exactly 1.5 miles longer than I’ve run in the last half a year.

Pre-Nationals (first 5 week block):

  • I’m a little rusty in the weightroom. First plan is to work my way back up with lighter weights for the first two weeks or so (2xweek), and then get back to the actual deadlifting/squatting/etc in the gym at least once a week (and the other session either the same or at home with kettles) within this time frame. 
  • My bike comfort zone ends somewhere in the realm of 30-40 miles right now.  I plan to get to 40 miles feeling like just another day, and ride my TT bike as much as possible (when it makes sense).
  • I plan to work my long run up to about 90 minutes, but my goal for these runs is to never slow to 100% easy pace.  I’m running a 5k easy holding 10-something mile pace, I’m hoping not to slow too much from there.  If it’s either or, I’d rather run less but faster. 
  • Swimming, I’m the least worried about you.  I plan to swim twice a week, and swim open water at least once a week/every other week at the absolute least.  I need to work on my speed and form when I can’t see the black line.  However, the jump from what I usually swim to 1.2 miles usually comes quickly as long as I actually DO IT.
  • I plan to hit our team brick most every Wednesday, or do a similar workout at home (exception – the FTP test I have scheduled this week in that same time slot ><).  Every long bike has a run scheduled off it.  I have a practice Olympic on the schedule 2 weeks out from the race to practice logistics and give myself confidence that I’m ready.
  • These five weeks consist of: #1 building volume, #2 more building volume, #3 stepback w/practice race, #4 one more building volume, #5 race week.  It’s not a full taper but I should go into Nationals *sorta* fresh.

Haven’t spent much time here lately and that’s about to change.  Soon.

Post Nationals to Peak (4 week block):

  • After racing two days back to back, I’ll take the next few weekdays fairly light and then have my first “long day” with a 30 min swim, 3 hour ride, 3 mile run that weekend.  If I’m super fried from racing and travel, I may switch this to the next week and just do an easy long bike + run instead. 
  • I have a second “long day” planned as my final long workout before the race/three weeks before the race – 1.2 mile OWS, 56 mile TT bike, 10k run.  This will be where I test all my race prep.
  • On the flat, closed course Cozumel bike, I estimate I’ll ride somewhere around 3 hours with the race conditions.  However, I don’t have a lot of places to practice like that.  The options I have are: riding the same amount of TIME on my road bike in group rides/traffic (but that will probably net me between 10-15+ miles less with logistics).  3 hour trainer rides sound torturous but I have a feeling I’ll do at least one.  I have a few places where I can get CLOSE to a closed course/continuous effort on my TT bike but none of them will let me open up as much as I will in the race.  I think the best I can do is just get out and ride anywhere and everywhere I can to ensure that 56 flat miles/3 hours is well within my comfort zone.  So, lotsa bikes.
  • On the run, I plan to alternate race pace long runs with shorter faster tempo work.  I figure I’ll run the 13 miles once about a month out for a confidence builder but I’m not running a half marathon race, I’m surviving a half marathon on tired legs in the heat off the bike.  The best thing I can do is be prepared to run FASTER and run OFF THE BIKE.  So, I’ll continue to go forward with that methodology.  Absolutely no junk miles here to stick to my minimalistic running program.
  • Weights and swim plan continues as before.  I expect I’ll be swimming the full race distance once a week or every other week at least.

#mfw I run in the heat because I love it so much.  But then I chose to do races like Cozumel.  I am an enigma. 😛

Taper (3 weeks):

  • At this point, the hay is in the barn so I’ll be ditching long workouts for shorter, faster stuff to keep sharp.  All the sports volumes will come down and I’ll be running faster than race pace more often. 
  • I’ll continue my weights until race week, and *maybe* that Monday I’ll do a light weights workout if I feel up to it. 
  • I’m figuring I’ll be extremely ready to cut the volume once I get here as usual, but if I have to remind myself, I’ll refer to my last post on how successful I was at sprints on minimal training (but the right training).

Post Cozumel to Waco (4 weeks):

  • The first week post race will involve diving, snorkeling, tacos, and margaritas. 
  • October 13 is two weeks out of my second race.  I have one more opportunity for a key workout.  Whether anything I do 15 days out will improve my fitness is questionable, but I can definitely do something that will build confidence.  That’s TBD. 
  • If I feel like everything is copacetic, I’ll repeat my taper plan for Cozumel almost exactly.
  • Basically, my goal is to keep my fitness in tact and to not do stupid things and hurt myself or get burnt out or sit on my butt too much and get stale and unfit.

October 28th post race plans…

What’s after that?  Staying active but some offseason-y goodness.

November = offseason.  I hope to pick up my activity by Thanksgiving to stave off gaining any weight, but there will be absolutely no POINT to it.  I’ll go run because it’s nice outside and ride bikes with friends on adventures and maybe swim once because it feels novel and maybe lift heavy things because it’s fun.

December = strength + run focus (but still kind of offseason).  Because I have a little matter of a half marathon (that I don’t care about my performance but need to survive), I should do some running but probably mostly the kind where I duck outside in the afternoon and race the sunset for fun for about an hour, completely ignoring things my watch says.  If I’m not back to lifting yet, I need to start.  Bikes (probably) and swimming (haha) as they sound fun.

Some of this coming up.  Not a ton, but some.

Then there’s the other part of the equation – weight loss.  I’m hoping to eek out about FIVE MORE LBS this year, but it’s already starting to slow down to a crawl.  A few months of calorie deficits and agonizing over every crumb I eat has gotten tiring and I missed Mexican restaurants and bike adventures with food stops and those may have crept back in my life in the last few weeks.  Even though I’m still fighting, it’s not with that much enthusiasm.

At some point I’ll officially transition to more calories when the training ratchets up and then my appetite catches up (I’m guessing that will happen in early August).  My only goal for the rest of the year will be not to gain weight (but really, I mean that – I don’t want to gain ANY weight over the holidays).  Then, after New Years, I’ll start again in earnest to try to lose the next (and maybe last) 15.

My goal will still be to eat nutritious food and track my calories and really nail the hell out of my diet quality scores since I have more calories to play with.  However, in my estimation, I’ll be burning about 2-3k more calories per week with increased training.  That gives me some leverage to actually drink a few non-light beers or have some post ride pizza and maybe not freak out if someone wants to go out for dinner unexpectedly if I don’t change my normal daily habits.  That sounds nice.

Let’s do this thing! 12 weeks to go, starting… NOW!