Back on the Speed Machine

I was talking with a prospective engineer who had mentioned on her CV that she had worked as a volunteer for the Challenge Wanaka Ironman distance race. This reminded me … I am doing a 70.3 half-Ironman in Auckland in just over two months. I’ve been keeping my running up, but time to put aside the mountain biking for a while and get back into triathlon training. So I dusted off my time trial bike for the first time in over a year and went out for a 50 km training ride.

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Time trial bikes have three fundamental – and obvious – differences to mountain bikes. First, the position is totally different. This reminded me why my massage therapist has been reminding me that I need to work more on my flexibility, particularly for my hip flexors. Secondly, with the narrow tyres and shorter wheelbase they handle very differently, and are ‘skittish’. It took me a few kilometres to get the feel of it again, and the courage to get down into the aero bars.  Finally, and most importantly, they are fast. Seriously fast. Hitting 50 km/h was really fun. And scary.

Lis’ Bed and Breakfast is in the ideal location for biking. I have a great time trial course which consists of a 4 km hilly warm up, about 15 km of almost perfectly flat roads, and then some gentle grades along the Lee Valley River. Brilliant scenery of course (it is New Zealand). Best of all, there is very little traffic.  After about 10 km my body began to get dialed into the bike and it was good to be back on such a fast bike. It was a sunny spring day with snow on the distant mountains. Sure beats all the time I spend on stationary trainers!

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Mentioning trainers. I’ve decided to try a fundamentally different training program for this 70.3. My travel schedule of course isn’t the best – I’m arriving in Auckland from the USA the morning before the race so my performance expectations are not great. Also, there is the mind set. 70.3 distances are what I’ve been doing as training days during my Ironman training so I have a very distorted view of just how much training I need to do…

My approach is going to be short 1-1:30 training sessions, almost entirely based around interval training. For running, I’ve been doing lots of 800 m repeats at 3:45 min/km pace, with 200 m recovery so I’ll just expand them (and try to go faster). For riding, a VO2 max interval training program with lots of short to medium intervals.  Something similar for swimming.  I’ll supplementing these with some longer distance training – like my recent training in Tonga where I was working on distances like 12 km at 4:30 min/km pace, or 50 – 75 km rides like today.

Will be interesting to see how my body adapts to this compared to my more traditional training programs. Looking forward to the next two months … I do enjoy training!

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