I’m just about at the half way point of training for Ironman Lake Placid. Overall, I’m happy with my progress. The first few months were focused on running as I prepared for the Philadelphia Marathon in late November. Then in early December my focus shifted to getting stronger on the bike. I’ve been training 10 to 15 hours/week – about 40% of which has been on the bike. During this time a typical week consisted of three bike workouts – two 60-100 minutes and one weekend long ride of two-three hours. All were designed to increase my functional threshold power (FTP), which is essentially the maximum power you are capable of maintaining for one hour. As mentioned in a previous blog post, a power meter is necessary in order to obtain an accurate FTP. For those that are not aware, power is measured in watts. If I’m going to improve my time on the bike in Ironman, an increase in FTP is necessary. In addition to the three weekly bike workouts (five-six hours in total), I’ve also been swimming on average four times/week (four hours/11k in total), and running on average four times/week (four hours/50k in total).
My FTP was about 270 in early December. After a lot of hard work in the saddle (about 80 hours) and a well-crafted training schedule thanks to a great coach, I have increased my FTP by over 10% to around 300. There is such a fine line between working hard and overdoing it. Thanks to coach Matt of Carmichael Training Systems (CTS) and his experience analyzing data, he pushes me just enough without going too far. I upload all of my workouts to Training Peaks, where Matt can look at my power and heart rate numbers in an effort to maximize improvement. Despite the fact that he coaches 20+ athletes, he still finds the time to analyze at all of key workouts. If he feels I can work harder, or may be overdoing it, he makes the necessary changes. This brings me to one of Joe Friel’s most famous quotes: “If you’re not getting feedback, you’re not being coached.” My most recent "Steady State" (a CTS term) workout involved a 15 minute warmup followed by four times 10 minutes at 295-305 watts. If this workout had not been adapted, my goal power for these intervals would have been around 280 (far too low).
Having done all of my cycling since December indoors, I am very much looking forward to hitting the pavement next month. Until then, I’ll keep slugging it out in the basement, all the while keeping the Ironman finish line in sight. For the next month or so increasing my FTP will remain the top priority. Then there will be a significant increase in volume and the focus will shift to improving efficiency. As a result, the amount of intensity will drop – which will be a nice change. Essentially, there will be less short intense workouts and more long rides with intervals at 70-80% of FTP – what I should be able to maintain during the Ironman bike leg according to Matt. My running will follow a similar plan – less short intense workouts and more long runs at close to goal ironman marathon pace (still to be determined).
In April if all goes as planned, my training volume will increase above 15 hours/week for the first time since 2013 – which will require more sleep and a more strict diet. What will follow will depend on how my body responds. If all goes as planned, I’ll be logging weeks in excess of 20 hours by mid-May, and 25+ by mid-June. If it wasn’t for my very understanding wife (Lisa), this would not be possible. It’s also great to have three training partners (Corey, John, Chris) that are also be training hard for Lake Placid!