Here at TriForce we typically try to squeeze the most training into a limited amount of time. We are, after all, the home of the Sub 10 Ironman in 10 Hours per Week training plan. So typically we do focused bike rides with a priority on quality as opposed to volume.
However, late in the season (or during the winter time when you have a week of vacation planned) it can be very helpful to give your body a dose of training load on the bike if you have the time and if you feel like seeing some sights out on your bike. There are lots of ways this can be done– this is just one suggestion. The structure is 5 rides: a 5 hour ride, 4 hours, 3 hours, 2 hours, 1 hour (I remember Gordo once saying he targeted those distances during a week). The composition of the rides depends on the time of year and the athletes.
The structure below is very similar to what I did for some DIY training camps I did when I prepared for IMCdA 2011. I put 2 of these weeks back to back to create a very solid training block. It worked for me– once I absorbed the training I was putting out lifetime best number in the bike & run. For camps like this I’ll do virtually 100% outdoor riding– my legs wouldn’t be able to handle the strain of indoor riding while doing this much volume.
Biking. The goal for the bike is to get to the last ride on Sunday feeling strong. To do that:
(1) Dial Down Your Long Rides To the Bottom of Steady. Keep your 4 & 5+ hour rides at the VERY BOTTOM of your steady zone– this is critical. That bottom of steady intensity is easy on the legs, but can produce valuable adaptations. On my typical longer rides I’d average 220+ watts, but for these I’d average right around 200. It will feel super easy for a couple hours, but you’ll become aware that you’re getting a good workout after a while. Unless you are an elite AGer near the end of the season, keep your 3 hour ride at that intensity as well. These are great rides to go out with a buddy who is a little bit slower than you are.
(2) Dial your weekly threshold ride down to 90-95% of threshold– don’t go up to 100%. If you’re not up to a threshold ride, then just do tempo.
(3) Elite AGers late in the season can do their specific IM work on the 2 & 3 hour days.
Swimming During the Camp. I’ll typically scale back my swimming– aiming for 3-4 relatively easy swims, using plenty of paddles + pull buoy since my legs are tired. Not focusing on speed at all. E.g. warm up with drills + easy swimming, then 10*200 on 20 rest (alternate using paddles & pb w/ regular swimming).
Running During the Camp. One longer run + easy transition runs after all rides. Do the longer run on soft surfaces and use run / walk. Don’t worry about speed at all.
You don’t need to do a big volume camp like this to succeed at your IM (I’ve gone sub 10 multiple times without doing one), but if you have the time and feel like having the wind blow through your hair for 15 hours over 7 days give it a try and have fun!