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Getting Faster

Sub 10 Ironman in 10 Hours Per Week (original…

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Despite what your perpetually shaved neighbor with the M Dot tattoo tells you, you do not need to train 20 hours per week to kick butt in your next IM. In fact, your neighbor who trains 20 hours per week probably has some secrets he does not want to tell you:

  1. He doesn’t train 20 hours per week, he just thinks he does or says he does. Yes, he has trained 20 hours in a week once or twice, but that does not mean that he trains20 hours per week.
  2. He spends hours doing thousands of easy, sloppy yards in the pool that are probably not going to help him very much on race day.
  3. He spends most of his rides going too hard or too easy to target the #1 key for IM bike fitness: the ability to crank steady watts in the aerobars nonstop for hours. He has no idea of how long he can crank steady watts and no clue how he will feel on race day when he tries to do so for 5 hours!
  4. He does lots of easy running, spending hours to get very little benefit.

You can be better prepared than your neighbor for your next IM by following this focused 10 hour per week training plan.   I’m not saying that this 10 hour training plan is the only way to train or the best way, but it can be quite effective.  Incidentally, this is very similar to how I trained to go 9:21 at Ironman Switzerland when I was working during the day and going to school at night. And make no mistake about it, I’m not selling you a shortcut. If you follow this plan and all the rules, it is physically and mentally challenging. You’ll wish you were out with your neighbor lallygagging for hours and hours every week. read more

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Getting Faster

6 Keys To Pacing Your Half Ironman 70.3 Race

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Photo above: 4 TriForcers qualify for 70.3 World Championships at Oceanside.  We followed the process!

Here are 6 keys for pacing your Half Ironman.  If you are a beginner or someone who struggles to run to your ability off the bike FOLLOW THE PLAN STRICTLY!   More experienced athletes who have a strong track record of running well off the bike can sometimes get away with "painting outside the lines."  That's a privilege to be earned!

(1) Put your bike computer where you can see it.

You want your computer somewhere you can see at a very easy glance without taking your eyes off the road.   Barfly makes good mounts that go on your aerobars.   Or, some between the aerobars drink bottles sell mounts such as the xlab torpdo versa that go in front of the bottle (best) or on top of the bottle (OK).    If your computer is on your wrist or even on your bike stem, chances are that you aren't going to look at it much.  And if you aren't looking at it then you aren't using it for pacing.  Which brings us to our next topic... read more

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4 Podiums at Honu 70.3 Getting Faster

How to Race a Half Ironman.

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Above: 4 TriForcers (Li Moore, John “Snickers” Nickers, Mimi “Usually” Winsberg, and coach Coady) podium at Honu 70.3. The best athletes not only train hard, they also have their nutrition, hydration and pacing dialed.

For whatever reason, I’ve failed to impress on many of our new team members how important it is to dial in their pacing and nutrition. Some TriForcers love to train, but show almost no interest in developing their race pacing or nutrition strategies. This is a recipe for failure! You can train 30 hours per week, but if you pace poorly and don’t take in enough calories (or you take in a mix of products that upsets your stomach), then you’re doomed to have a poor race. If you are a busy athlete who has been making sacrifices to squeeze in all your workouts, but you won’t take the time and focus to figure out your pacing and nutrition, it’s a sad, sad situation when your race goes off the rails. And one that was probabl preventable. read more

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Getting Faster

12 Tips for Triathlon Training on Vacation

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Picture above: me swimming from one of Richard Branson’s private islands to his other one, with a person greeting from Sir Richard himself.   I highly recommend that “vacation workout”  next time you are in the British Virgin Islands 🙂

One of the biggest challenges as a triathlon coach is dealing with unrealistic expectations, such as athletes thinking they can achieve a personal best in a race even if they took a long vacation with a big gap in their training in the middle of their race build.    read more

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Busy Athletes

Busy Ironman Athletes: Think “Minimum Effective Dose,” Not “Overload”

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This post highlights a way I approach coaching busy triathletes, including Ironman racers.  This “minimum effective dose” approach was the foundation of my 10 hours per week Ironman training experiment.   However, it’s a good way for ANY triathlete to think about their training.

Most triathletes, especially Ironman racers, (as well as some coaches) think of training primarily in terms of overload and adaptation.  In other words, they pile on as much training as they think they can handle or whatever they think it takes to achieve their goals.  They feel the more they can pile on without injury, the more their body will adapt and get stronger.

This is the classic “more is better” idea that is so prevalent among triathletes.  The problem with this idea is that it doesn’t work for many people, especially if they are busy and stressed out to begin with.   Even if we have a strong foundation for adaptation, if we train too much we exceed our body’s capacity to absorb the training and get faster.   Our bodies are so tired that they can’t muster the energy to heal and make the changes necessary to get faster.  We end up tired, grumpy and frustrated at the limited results we are getting for our hard work.

Instead of “Overload and Adaptation” think of our training in  terms of “Dose and Response”.  read more

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Getting Faster

The Coach Coady 10 Hours Per Week Complete Saga

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It actually worked!   Back in November, I came up with the idea that I wanted to try to qualify for Kona on a 10 hours per week training plan.  Fast forward to May… and I won my age group at Ironman Santa Rosa with a time of 9:26 and qualified for Kona.

The goal was never to show that lower volume training is the best way to train. It’s not.   And it is DEFINITELY not a “how to qualify for Kona” post– if you have never qualified for Kona, your best bet will be with a higher volume plan.   (TriForcer Tom Glynn just took 3rd in his AG and qualified for Kona at Ironman Texas, and he did 16-20 hours for most of his training weeks, a more “typical” KQ plan)   The goal is to show you how you can be almost as fast as if you did a “full” training plan if you are on a smart lower volume plan.

Here’s the full saga:

Part 1: The 10 Hours Per Week Plan.  This is where I lay out some of the basic concepts, tools and workouts that can be useful for busy athletes in creating a lower volume training plan for Ironman.

 

Part 2: Notes on the first half of my IMSR training.   This is the first half of the build or so where I was strictly under 10 hours every week.    If you are a busy triathlete looking to train for Ironman I hope you’ll get some useful ideas from the article.

Part 3: The Second Half of my IMSR training.   My training had a physical and emotional dip due to injury then I got into “phase 2” of my Ironman training – the final push where I had 5 bigger weeks of over 10 hours, followed by the taper.

Part 4: It Worked!  Ironman Santa Rosa Race Report- 1st AG, Kona Qualification 9:26 finish time on 9 hours 50 minutes / week average over the course of the build!   Mission accomplished- I think I was almost as fast as if I had done a “full” plan, which was the goal.

 

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Getting Faster

Coach Coady Wins IMSR (9:26, 40-44) and Qualifies for…

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Holy cow– it worked!   I followed a 10 hours per week training plan to get ready for IMSR.  I did it as an experiment and a learning experience to make me a better coach.  The goal wasn’t to PR, but I was hoping to be almost as fast as if I had done a “full” training plan.   Mission accomplished!

For more about my build, read about about the first half of my training and the second half of my training + taper.

Goal

My goal was simple– qualify for Kona on 10 hours per week so I don’t look like an idiot for writing a bunch of articles about how I’m trying to do that with the conclusion being that I failed!  I figured it would take a top 4 finish, so that was my goal.  I felt a 9:30 should be safe and might even be good for a win, but I thought that even being a good bit slower than that would give me a good chance for 4th (I was wrong about that- our AG was much deeper with talent than I thought with 8 guys sub 9:35).

Pre Race

Race week was restful since I was still carrying a decent amount of fatigue from the final build.   I snapped out of healing mode a couple days out and was feeling good.   The major problem was that my psoas was a mess (I aggravated it at the end of my build) and I couldn’t run more than a few miles without it flaring up.   I was just hoping that race week rest + race day adrenaline would get me through the race.

The night before I had my usual Micky D’s pre race dinner: quarter pounder with cheese, small cheeseburger, McChicken and large fries.   Go ahead, laugh. 🙂 But for whatever reason it works for me– I have done this before 3 Ironman races and have 2 AG wins + a 3rd place.  So now I’m basically stuck doing it for the rest of my life.

I have a similarly relatively heavy breakfast (breakfast potatoes, eggs, bacon).  I’ll be doing all liquids (or blocs) for the rest of the race and I think my body will be happier with some real food to start the day.

Swim 1:00:07 (PR, 6th place in AG, PR)

My swim fitness wasn’t as strong as previous builds so I knew I had be humble and to swim smart.  I wasn’t nearly  fit enough to “brute force” myself to a good swim time so I had to be wiley.  I seeded myself in the middle of the sub 1 hour group, which due to rampant time inflation by everyone is the right spot even though I figured I’d be closer to a 1:02.

I relaxed and got “pulled out” in the rolling start.   The goal was to draft 100% of the time, which I more or less did.   About half way through the first loop I found a great set of feet– exactly the right speed, sighting reasonably well, with a relaxed 2 beat kick that was easy to follow.  He even had a yellow decal on the bottom of his wetsuit leg so I could find him when we hit bad traffic.  I followed him for the rest of loop 1 and we got out of the first loop in 29:37.

In the 2nd loop I kept following the same guy– WHAT A STUD HE WAS!   He was weaving between the slow swimmers on loop 1 like a champ and if anything it felt like he was picking up the pace.   My attitude was to stay on his feet at all costs and I managed it even through some nasty traffic.   If you were that guy, I owe you a beer!

I got out of the swim in just over an hour feeling good.

T1: 5:20 – I moved up to 4th.

A reasonably fast / smooth T1.

Bike 5:02- staying in 4th place.

Similar to the swim, I knew I had to adjust my riding somewhat based on the fact that I wasn’t overly fit.

The one key for me was to coast and back off at higher speeds (27+ mph).  I racked up 50 minutes of time during the race at under 50% of FTP– so basically 50 minutes of recovery mixed into the ride.   Based on the gap to the people around me while I was coasting, I lost little to no time, so it was well worth it.

Bike Part 1: First 25% of the race (until Chalk Hill).  Plan was to “warm up” 209 NP. read more

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Busy Athletes

Coach Coady 10 hours per week Ironman training experiment:…

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A “hole” in my run training due to a heel injury was a low point in my training.

This is the third post in my series on my experiment in trying to qualify for Kona on 10ish hours per week Ironman training plan.   It’s an example of how a busy athlete might approach Ironman training on a time budget.  I wanted to use this build as a learning experience to improve myself as a coach.  Before reading this post check out the previous posts: (1) The 10 Hours per Week Plan and (2) the halfway update of my 10 hours per week training.  This article picks up where they left off.

(UPDATE: Spoiler alert: IT WORKED!!!!!  I won my age group with a time of 9:26 and qualified for Kona!)

Wrapping up Phase 1 on a Negative Note:

In my last post everything was going almost perfectly… a sure sign that some challenge was  going to pop up!   Well, my heel injury flared up and I ended up having 4 weeks of hampered / limited running.  With the injury causing major issues all the way through to 10 weeks out from Ironman Santa Rosa, I was having doubts I could have the run fitness and health to race strong.    As a result (and nonstop rainy weather didn’t help), motivation hit a low point.

However I turned a negative into a positive and  took time to study my injury issues and I actually unlocked what I think is the root cause and how to fix it.  The injury got under control and I decided to look at the lighter weeks of training as a breather before pushing into 10 hours per week phase 2–  where we do 4-6 bigger weeks before tapering.  A bit of a break before going into Phase 2 can be a benefit– you lose a little fitness but you hopefully recharge the mind and body for a strong final push.

10 Hours Per Week Plan Phase 2 – What Needs to be Done?

The studious reader will recall from the 10 hours per week plan article that phase 2 is where we do more than 10 hours per  week in the final handful of weeks before the Ironman.   Heading into phase 2 we ask the question– “what needs to be done to be ready to race Ironman?”  For most people, the answer will be more volume and longer long bikes / runs to make sure they are ready to “go the distance.”

Here were my key focuses:

  • I needed to rebuild my run fitness.  After 4 weeks of barely running, I had lost a ton of run fitness and durability.  And as I noted in my last post, while my speed was good, my durability wasn’t great even before the heel problems.   On the plus side, having figured out my injury issues, I felt I could start wearing some more “normal” shoes vs. being stuck in barefoot shoes, which should provide and instant durability boost.  (note that I was somewhat wrong– the switch back to maximal shoes or some workouts aggravated an old psoas injury).   Solution: slower miles, more miles.  If you are out of shape (and nursing an injury) you can’t push both speed and distance.  So, I kept speed much slower and just focused on doing slower miles, trusting that the ability to run fast at IM effort will be maintained.   In the final block I did 4 weeks of 30ish miles and 1 big week of 40+ miles (camp week).  This was hardly “big” but it was the best I could do given the nagging injuries and the fact that I was “cramming” the run on a compromised base of training.
  • I needed to extend my bike fitness to 5 hours.  The bike was very strong coming out of the 10 hour program and I almost felt like I could have done a strong Ironman bike without a phase 2.  I made the interval reps longer and added 1 hour relaxed before the 3 hour harder ride.  I did a 4 hour ride most weeks in phase 3, but with 2 x rides of 5 hours or more.  During camp week I did a double longer ride (4 hours hills + 112 miles on the course).
  • Put together some good swim weeks.  my swim training was “meh” heading into phase 3.   I put in a couple respectable 10k + weeks before the taper (including 2 Ironman distance OW swims) which gave me a boost.
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    Team Update

    TriForcers qualify for Kona at IMSR and IMTX 2019!…

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    Kona bound!!!

    Congrats to TriForcers who are off to a strong start in the spring!

    Tom Glynn was 3rd in his age group at Ironman Texas, qualifying for Kona!

    At Ironman Santa Rosa:

    Coach Coady (me) WON MY AGE GROUP (9:26) at Ironman Santa Rosa, qualifying for Kona!  (woohoo!) The 10 hours per week training plan worked!

    Yohann “the Flying Frenchman” Coppel (right, below) finished in 10:05 at Ironman Santa Rosa – a solid day at the office despite a flat tire and stomach cramps.   Mark my words– Yohann will qualify for Kona.

    Todd Scheidt, “Scheidt, hush hush, eye to eye” went 10:26 in his first ever Ironman!    Impressive debut performance!!!!

    Chai G, aka “Tri Loop” – 11:10 at Ironman Santa Rosa!  Well done, Chai!

     

    Jason “Hello My Name Is” Symons “and I like to do drawrings” – 11:38 in his Ironman debut! And award for best finish line dance 🙂   YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!   (And nice work Coach Andrew.)

    Other notable spring results: 

    PV (Phuong Vuong) was 6th in her age group at Ironman Vietnam 70.3 Asia Pacific Championship!  (PV, send me a better pic!)  with a PR (personal best) time of 6:04.  Great work, PV!

    Ken Ashcraft took 2nd place at Half Moon Bay sprint tri.  Ryan Monaghan took 4th!

    Dena Becker and Emmanuel Oroso finished their first ever triathlons at HITS Napa Valley Sprint

    (Dena took 2nd!) read more

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    Getting Faster

    Coach Coady 10 hours Per Week Ironman Training Experiment-…

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    I’m halfway through  my 10 hours per week Ironman Training experiment!     The goal is to qualify for Kona on a minimalist training  plan.   I’ll stick to 10 hours per week of training until 6 weeks out from the taper.  Once I hit that point I’ll see where I’m at how much “extra” I want to add in order to be ready to go the distance.      So far, I’m loving the plan and it’s  working (surprisingly) well, especially the bike training.   The only area of concern is my run durability / endurance (and injuries).   If you are a busy athlete I hope you’ll get some useful information in this update to try in your own training plan.

    (UPDATE: Spoiler alert: IT WORKED!!!!!  I won my age group with a time of 9:26 and qualified for Kona!)

    First off, I’m LOVING this training.

    Before I get into the numbers and get all goal oriented (as we triathletes tend to do), let me say how much I’m enjoying the training.

    • The thing I love most about this plan is only training once per day (especially since it is February!).   It makes life so much simpler.
    • The once per day training and the reduced hours has made me much more productive.  I have much more energy for work, family and friends.
    • I also really enjoy the workouts.  While some people love to go out and ride 100 miles at an endurance effort I’ve always preferred just to crank it for 2-3 hours at more of a race-like effort.  And I love running fast off the bike, so the threshold brick run and the IM effort brick runs are a fun challenge.   It might not be for everyone (we have a few TriForcers who love to go out and ride long every weekend), but it suits me.

    That’s not to say that I don’t love “big training” sometimes.   One of my favorite memories as a triathlete is when I did two 27 hour weeks in a row (of HARD) training with Brett Sutton and his pros back in 2016.  I just like to keep training like that as an occasional “treat.”  🙂

     

    The Hours

    I’ve been averaging 8 hours / week over the last 90 days with most weeks between 8-10 hours and a biggest week of 10.5 hours.

     

     

    There are 6 key areas I’m focusing on to be ready to qualify for Kona.

    OK, here are the numbers we love so much.    I’m guessing I need to go sub 9:30 which means swim around 1 hour, bike around 5 hours, run around 3:20.    If my “IM effort” swim is around 1:25 / 100 yards, “IM effort” bike is around 210 watts, and “IM effort run” is around 7:30 then I should be there.   By “IM effort” I mean power / pace at the perceived exertion and heart rate where I usually race Ironman.    I still have to be fit enough / have the endurance / overall strength to do it, which is the hard part.    In addition to my swim, bike and run I’m focusing on my weight, fixing my chronic injury issues, and also making sure my bike is set up well and reliable (last year I dropped my chain about 10x because of a wonky 1x setup).

    I qualified for Kona last year on “regular” training– can I do it again on a minimal plan?

    If I check these 6 boxes (and feel reasonably good on race day) I have an excellent chance of qualifying:

     

     

    Here are my top updates / lessons half way through the plan (10 weeks left):

    1.   The Week Setup Works Surprisingly Well for Me.      

    My body is responding very well to the extra recovery in the program vs. a “regular” plan.   Because of the 2 bricks in the plan, I have 3 “no legs” (swim only) days in the plan.  The challenging brick days are pretty “race like” and fatiguing– having the swim days immediately afterwards is letting my body absorb the training.   As a result I’m improving pretty steadily as opposed to when I try to “add extra” — which results in more frequent fatigue.   My speed and power have been better with this setup vs. the last couple of years on a more traditional plan with higher volume.   The only question is whether this setup will result in the overall strength, endurance and durability to “go the distance.”    At this point I’d say the swim obviously will (it’s more or less regular swim training), the bike is already pretty darn close to ready to go the distance strong,  BUT the run has a way to go (see #3)

    An example week from a few weeks ago.  The swim-only days (Tues, Thurs, Sat) have been allowing me to recover well from the hard bricks.    

    2. The Focused Indoor “Long” Rides Work read more

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    tempo brick run for Ironman training Busy Athletes

    The Tempo Brick Run– the Busy Triathlete’s Best Friend!

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    tempo brick run for Ironman training
    The tempo brick run will have you ready to fly on race day even if a weird injury forces you to race in mandals.

    This article is part of our recent series on training for busy athletes.   It describes one of my favorite workouts I’m using to try to qualify for Kona Ironman World Championships on a plan of mostly 10ish hours power week.

    Are you tired and falling behind struggling to fit in all your workouts on a busy schedule?  One of the biggest challenges we face in coaching busy triathletes (especially coaching Ironman triathletes) is figuring out how to set up a training plan that will get the athlete ready for their race (often Ironman) but that leaves then time to succeed at work and to enjoy their family (while also letting them sleep and maintain a strong foundation for adaptation).

    Here at TriForce we sometimes find that training less (but smarter) will transform a busy athlete from tired and overwhelmed  to confident, on top of things and in the flow with life (and make them faster in the process!)  But even triathletes on a minimal training plan want to hit 3 bikes, 3 runs and 2-3 swims per week if they want to be fast.   This article talks about a time effective way to knock out 2 of those weekly workouts–  the tempo brick run– a 20 minute workout with a big training impact.  (and it’s sort of fun too!)

     

    THE TEMPO (THRESHOLD) BRICK RUN

    According to Jack Daniels “Ideally, a tempo run is nothing more than a steady 20 minute run at T (threshold) pace.  Subjectively the intensity of effort… is comfortably hard.”

    It couldn’t be simpler– after one of your harder bike rides put on your run shoes and go out and run about 20 minutes right around your threshold effort (about what you can sustain for an hour in a race).  That’s an effort that might take about a mile to catch up to you and feel pretty hard, but it shouldn’t feel too much harder at minute 20 vs. minute 10.   When you finish you should feel you could run another couple miles at that effort.   It’s hard, but if you are filling up with lactate and struggling to hold your pace, then you are going too hard.

     

    BENEFITS OF THE TEMPO BRICK RUN:

  • Already warmed up: you are already warmed up and ready to go after your hard bike ride!   No need for 15-20 min of warming up to get ready to run.  Still gradually ramp up to your threshold pace over the first few minutes, but you won’t need a big warmup.
  • No “getting started” mental cost.  If you are like me, getting started with training is a mental hurdle.  This is one less run workout / week to think about.  When you are done riding throw on your shoes and go!   If you haven’t been doing this regularly you might have to “rally” yourself to do it, but after a couple weeks you’ll “just do it.”  Which leads us to the next benefit.
  • You’ll have the mental edge on race day.   If you are jumping off a hard bike and running at threshold effort almost every week, race day will be automatic and second nature.   The “fear factor” of running hard off a hard bike won’t be there.
  • The physical edge on race day.   Your body is going to be used to and adapted to the demands of running off the bike FAST.
  • Improved Lactate Threshold Pace.  Of course.. the specific benefit of this workout is that you improve your lactate threshold pace– you raise the speed of what’s sustainable and that should improve your performances at all distances from 5k to Ironman.
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