Most people plan their Ironman races many months in advance. The races often sell out within hours of opening, so some people know almost a year in advance that they will be doing a race on a specific day. Unfortunately, working for the World Bank I cannot plan my life a few months in advance as I never know what may come up. Many race directors have made money off me when I’ve been sent overseas and missed a planned race.
When I learned in late June that I would be on mission to China late August, and that there were slots available for the Asian Ironman Championship in Jeju Island, Korea, I decided that this was an opportunity too good to miss. The problem was how to train for an Ironman with less than two months, and a busy job. As well as a wife who would not let me do an Ironman. I’ve dealt with the latter here, so let me tell something about the training program.
The first step was to come up with a sensible training program. I decided to allow myself five weeks of training and then two weeks of tapering before the race. The latter coincided with my travel to China for work. This was my general plan:
Swimming: This is my weakest discipline by far. I was fortunate in that there was a master’s swim program at Haine’s Point in Washington D.C. over the summer. They started at 05:30 or 07:00 and did a 1:30 intensive swim program. Thus my Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings were committed to swim training.
Running: For the running, I used the Runner’s World ‘Smart Coach’ program. This lets you put in a recent race time and it then comes up with a very sensible training program. It gave me three days a week of running. I chose Tuesday as my long day, and I put the recovery run on Thursday. Sunday I decided would be my speedwork and other types of run day, along with a bike ride. Yes, not the best idea to mix these with a ride, but it was the best I could come up with. The program was training me for a fast marathon of about 3:30, but I didn’t mind. My goal was 4:30 in the race so the sub-7:00 speedwork and other training wouldn’t go amiss.
Riding: I fit the riding in around everything else. I made Sunday my long ride day and increased the volume over the training period. As mentioned above, it usually was done as part of a ‘brick’ wherein I also did a run after the ride. Twice a week after swimming I planned 45 minutes of interval work on the flat circular course at Haine’s Point. I also did extra rides whenever I got the chance.
In terms of time, my shortest weeks were to be 12 h of training and my longest 16. This is fairly typical for Ironman races, at least for duffers like me, and I had the advantage of already having a very good base of fitness. My longest planned run was 22 miles, the same week as a planned 80 mile ride and 6 mile run brick.
So the above was the theory, how did it work out? I hit 57% of my goal for swimming, 91% for cycling and 101% for running. So you can see which I preferred. I would have been closer for the cycling but I had to cancel a few rides due to weather.
Will the plan be enough? All will be revealed in a few days …