The end of Week 10 marks the end of the base phase of the Be Iron Fit Ironman training plan. It really seems to drag along until – boom – 1/3 of the training plan is done. The base phase is intended to get you prepared for what is to come, and it certainly did it’s job. Nothing was really too difficult to handle, and the genius of Fink’s plan certainly gets you well prepared for Ironman.
Ten weeks of base phase totals up to the following:
SWIMS – 18 total (I missed two in Wk 1), 18 total hours, 45,000 total yards
BIKES – 30 total, 34.5 total hours, 513 total miles
RUNS – 70 total, 40.5 total hours, 301 total miles
This week’s roundup was definitely the longest of what I did for the first ten weeks. The swims didn’t change at all through Weeks 1-10, with all workouts being 2500 yards in length and twice weekly. The bike ended with a plan topping 3 hour ride. And the run maxed out at 1.5 hours this week. Both of the long efforts on the weekend were good hints at what is to come.
The best part of the week was riding with a fellow Gunner. We rode from my house in Mokena, south and west to Elwood, into a strong wind. So happy to have it at our backs on the way home. I certainly hope there are more group rides to come!
com·mit·ted kəˈmidəd/ adjective feeling dedication and loyalty to a cause, activity, or job; wholeheartedly dedicated.
On Friday I was doing my planned run on my normal route through the nature preserve when I saw the following written in sidewalk chalk on the trail spaced apart by about 100 feet:
Well, I guess the sidewalk chalk proposal was not as successful as the proposer had hoped. But it got me thinking about the commitment involved in being married and how lucky I am to have someone that I am committed to and to share our lives together.
But marriage isn’t the only commitment in my life, for I am surely committed to running, triathlon and this current Ironman pursuit. If you have the strength to right click on the application submit button, you have certainly become committed.
Commitment seemed to be a theme this week as a friend from my high school class and friend on Facebook pondered whether or not to sign up for the Chicago Marathon. She has had some experience as a runner, but the marathon distance is very much new territory for her. She had lots of doubt about being able to run the distance. I responded that I believe anyone can do it if they put forth the effort and train with purpose. Everyone always fears the distance the first time, and I would be lying if I didn’t get nervous race day eve, and morning. But when you put in the work, the light at the end of the tunnel gets closer and closer. She committed.
As I learned from finishing my first Ironman in 2013, the hard work was done in the 29 weeks, six days leading up to the race. The race was a complete joy. If you commit to the work you can reap the reward.
For Week 9, the commitment was certainly evident for me. The weather was up and down, with a few outdoor runs that were damp and cold, and a cold and windy ride of almost three hours on Saturday. Balance all of that with the family obligations and commitments as well. But when the week ends and the last workout is in the books, I can look back and know that I did the work.
Week 8 seemed like another dial back week in training, but a good week for me overall. The only issue I had was that I had some left leg discomfort on Thursday night. It almost felt like sciatica, with pain somewhat the entire length of my leg. It made for some restless sleep until I finally got up and took some ibuprofen. I made sure I did some stretching on Friday, and as a result of my concern, I dialed back my 60 minute run to a four miler in just over 3o minutes. There was no lingering issue with the pain after that.
The two swims went well this week. The Tuesday swim was a straight 2500 yard swim in which I kept the intensity back a little. On Thursday, it was back to the drills and workout. The workout consisted of 12X100 yards with a 20 second rest. Normally I can swim 100 yards in about 2:05 to 2:10 at a comfortable pace. I pushed the effort as directed and was surprised to average about 1:53 for all 12 repeats. After seven weeks of swimming (I missed the swims in Week 1), I guess I am getting a little stronger in my pulls. Overall, this swim took me 50:22 to finish, a personal best. I am usually around 56 to 60 minutes with most 2500 yard swim workouts.
Biking was done indoors, but Illinois was treated to another beautiful day on Saturday with a 60 degree temperature day, so I headed outside. Another plus to this sunny ride was getting to ride with another cyclist friend from the area. He’s a good rider and would have no problem doing an Ironman, if he wanted to put forth an effort to swim and run. He has no interest in those two dumb disciplines! I don’t blame him. Our ride was problematic however, when he kept having his rear tire go down. It was a slow leak, and we think that the tube and it’s valve stem were the issue. Watching him pull the tire off the bike, pull out the tube and get all back on quickly is a treat. He may not know it, but I really study his method so I can be better at it myself. But it took us 2:45 to do a 2 hour ride! Oh well, he is good company, and it beats having to ride alone.
On to Week 9 and more of the same as I get closer to the build phase of the training plan. I hope it warms up some more because I really need to be outside!
If you are at all curious about what a typical training week would like for someone training for an Ironman, I thought I would show you a day by day example of this week. I think you will see that it isn’t all that bad. It’s just daily exercise of about an hour that is preparing you for a goal. I really believe anybody can build to this.
Monday – A rest day! But since I have a running streak going, I did a two mile run on the treadmill.
Tuesday’s are swim and run workouts. For the swim, here is the workout that I did:
300 w/u = 300 yards of swimming to warm up
8X50 drills = This means you do 8 reps of 50 yards each. For my drills in the first set I did a high elbow drill that emphasizes getting my elbow high, and a drill that emphasizes glide and kicking.
16X25 @ 10 secs = This is a set of 16 total 25 yard swims at a high intensity, with a 10 second rest between each rep
1X400 @ 60 secs = A set of one 400 yard swim with a minute rest at the end
16X25 @10 secs = same as above
8X50 drills = another set of drills, this time I did 4X50 fist drill, where you use your fist instead of an open hand to make sure you are using your arm fully to move you through the water. And a 4X50 of fingertip drag, a drill to essentially teach you hand position in and out of the water.
200 c/d = 200 yards of easy swimming to cool down
The swim took me just under an hour to complete.
The run for Tuesday was a 60 minute comfortable run, which I did on the treadmill and was able to cover 7 miles.
Wednesday is brick day. A brick is where you do a back-to-back workout, typically a bike and then run. The plan called for 45 minutes on the bike and then a quick change to a 15 minute run.
Back to the pool for Thursday. The workout is as follows:
300 w/u, 8X50 drills (fists, and finger drag for drills)
1X300 @40 secs, 3X200 @30 secs, 1X300 @40 secs
8X50 drills (high elbow, glide/kick and kick board drills)
The Thursday swim was done in 55 minutes and was followed up with a 60 minute 100 rpm bike spin, and a slow 1 mile treadmill run once I got home.
Friday called for 1 hour and 15 minutes of Zone 2 running. There are four zones based on heart rate, with Z1 being easy, Z2 having normal effort, Z3 pushing it somewhat, and Z4 reserved for race effort or in some cases all out. Z2 is what I do most of my runs at, but they usually end up being Z3 because I can never hold back, especially when I am outside and in control of the pace.
I planned my run on a route that is about 8.5 miles long, but I needed some extra running to hit the 75 minutes. So I went a little farther. A little too much farther I guess, and ended up running 9.85 miles in 1 hour and 22 minutes. No big deal, except it was brutally cold out.
Saturday was a day I dreaded all week, because I knew it was going to be too cold to ride outside, and the plan called for a 2.5 hour Z2 ride. To the basement I went and did the ride on the trainer. Thanks to my iPad, with the Facebook and Scrabble apps, and the Kentucky vs. South Carolina basketball game (Go Cats!), the time flew by much quicker than I anticipated. I got in an estimated 35 miles, and then did a quick 1 mile run on the treadmill.
Sunday was a repeat of Friday, only much colder. It was about 12 degrees out when I left the house. A couple of my fellow Gunners always run outside, so I felt some inspiration to run outside too. Had it been that cold in December, I probably would have stayed inside. But living in the midwest, I always seem to get acclimated to the cold by February. I’m starting to get the hang of layering my clothes well, and wasn’t really bothered by the temp. My right eye really starts watering as soon as I get into the wind and cold, and that is bothersome, as the tears stream down my cheek and almost give me frostbite. I have some issue going on with that eye, and I am planning a trip to the eye doctor this week.
So there you have it. A typical week of swimming, biking, and running in 30-week plan that will prepare me for the Ironman distance.
The participant list for Ironman Lake Placid came out this week, and of course I had to ensure my name was on it. For many triathletes, in particular newbies, seeing their name listed as a participant is a moment that drives home the point that you are committed to the race – a life just got real moment.
For me, after checking that my name and the names of my buddies were indeed there, seeing the number 53 in the age column was the real eye opener. When did I get old? USA Triathlon sets the rules for most triathlons in the US, and one of the age group rules is that you participate at the age you will be at the end of the year. So that makes this 52 year old already 53 before my fall birthday!
Turning 40 wasn’t that bad, and last year just a week before turning 52, I set a personal best in the marathon, running a 3:28 at Chicago. So I never really thought I was getting old. But seeing that 53 gave me some pause. And with all the recent celebrity deaths at ages in their 60’s, I have become more aware of mortality.
But as I peruse the above list, I can see that I am not alone in vintage. Plenty of company in the over 50 group. The 50-54 age group alone has 428 athletes. I guess it isn’t too surprising that the over 40 crowd makes up a big chunk of the race. Announcer Mike Reilly always jokes that it’s the biggest group because we have disposable income. True.
So I guess I should just live in the age I am and make the most out of it, and do the same in 10 or 20 years. But 53, I am coming for you.
Swim – I had a sort of revelation in regard to my swim this week. Someone on one of the Ironman Facebook pages I follow posted a response to a post about trying to improve but was getting nowhere. I am in the same boat. I just can’t seem to get that swim speed down. But the response was a suggestion for a drill that I had not heard mentioned before, the vertical kick/deep water drill. After Googling the drill, I found a really interesting video: Sea Hiker Swimming
In the video, I could really see for the first time how to move my legs in the water. It will take some time to learn it well, but I could see an improvement in my 2500 yard straight swim. My splits went from an average of 2:18 per 100 yards to under 2:10 consistently. I hope to continue to improve on the kick aspect. In reality, I may save 5 minutes on the 2.4 mile swim, so it may not be worth it as getting faster may tire me out more for the latter parts of the race. I will see how training goes.
Bike – The bike went well this week, with my long Saturday ride outside for a change! Illinois weather sucked much less this week than usual and I took my road bike out for a turn. Riding outside is so much more enjoyable, even if it is only 46 degrees out.
Run – I am still feeling a little sore in the high hamstring area, and need to implement some more stretching. But overall, my tempo has been good, and feeling happy about the trail being ice-free so I can get out and run on the trail.
Being indoors at the start of a training plan is always a drag for me. In 2013, when I started training for Ironman Wisconsin, I started in late February, which meant I was a little bit closer to spring, and being outside. This time I am sure that I am looking at a solid three months indoors with our crazy Chicagoland weather.
Being inside isn’t really a bad thing. Many triathletes do the majority of their training indoors, winter, spring, summer or fall. I don’t know how their brains allow them to do that, because the boredom would kill me.
But this week I kind of turned the corner. I would dread looking at each bike workout, knowing that I was looking at sitting on that hard saddle for 1.5 hours or more. This week I seemed to have motivation and get it done mentality. I hope it lasts until spring.
The swim work out this week called for a straight 2500 yard swim, with no drills or workouts thrown in on Tuesday. That is a little of a mental break, because having to remember all of the drill and the lap I am on while swimming is a challenge for me. (I am starting to think that I need to mentally suck it up!) Thursday’s swim was another workout, but easier to follow as it had 12 X 100 yard repeats. I did well with them, keeping my splits somewhere around 2 minutes per 100. I know, that’s not very fast, but that’s all I got. Plus, I am not doing kick turns. I never saw the need to learn them because you won’t need them in the lake.
The bike and run workouts were basically the same, but got a bump up in time by about 15 minutes. Slowly easing my way out of the first phase of training.
Wrapping up Week 2 with a positive feeling. I missed swimming in Week 1 due to the high schools being closed for winter break, so two swims were looming large this week. I say looming because I had not swam since last September, and I knew that Fink’s Be Iron Fit program is somewhat swim heavy at the start. For a plan that includes 30 minute easy bikes and 15 minute runs early in the plan, to start off with 2500 yards of swimming seems like a lot of swimming to me.
I did get a little surprise when I got to the high school. I parked in the back by the aquatic center like I had done in the past, and found the doors locked with a note saying all swimmers have to enter through the main school doors, which are on the other side of the building. New security measures I assumed, but I think in reality it is a cost saving move, as the secretary position no longer exists at the pool. As I walked in and gave my name, the office lady asked if I knew how to get to the pool. I admitted that I was from the Class of 1982, but we didn’t have a pool or field house when I went here! I said I think I can find it, but what I wasn’t ready for was the hoard of students about to hit the hallways during a passing hour. I felt like a dinosaur wandering the halls to the pool.
The first swim was tough, but I got through it. My shoulders were definitely trying to figure out what the heck I was trying to pull, and by the end of the evening I wasn’t sure if I could lift my arms over my head. On Thursday, I followed up with another 2500 yard effort, but this one had some 300, and 200 yard workouts, instead of the 25 yard repeats from Tuesday. I tried a new drill, the Fists drill, in which you swim with closed fists to ensure that you are using your arms to help pull water. I feel like I was moving through the water pretty efficiently.
Running and cycling were pretty typical, and I’m still doing at least a couple of miles running even if the plan doesn’t have a run scheduled. I’m still on a running streak, and so far I haven’t had a significant reason to stop or insert a full day of rest from running.
Saturday called for 1.5 hours of riding. Doing that much on the trainer is an effort for me, as I despise both the “drainer” and the “dreadmill.” However, I am glad that I am fortunate to have those two options. But we had a slight warm up in temps this week, and by Saturday the snow had melted and it was wet, but warm enough for me to ride outside. I donned a pair of socks, with another calf-length sock over it, some tri shorts, my running tights over that, a tri top, two more long sleeve layers, some arm warmers, a jacket, a neck warmer, a stocking cap, a thin glove covered with my thick gloves, and some booties over my shoes and I was set. Seems like a lot, but it really was all thin layered tech gear. I was plenty warm. Glad I rode outside, because that evening it snowed about an inch and the temps dropped to the low teens. Might be the last outdoor ride for a while.
My training buddies kept me laughing throughout the week with numerous texts. We didn’t communicate all that much last time, so I am really finding it to be fun and encouraging this time around. We are so competitive that it seems like we are all trying to be the first done with the workout. It sure is keeping the training fun.
Training for an Ironman race can be a long distance event by its very nature. 30 weeks of training is hard to wrap your head around somewhat. But if you take it day by day, or even weekly, the weeks will pass by very quickly. That’s the plan – put in the daily work and reap the benefits come race day.
Birth of the Gunners
One of the ways to make the training seem to fly by, is to have some good training buddies. For my second attempt at Ironman, I am very lucky to once again be joined by my life long friends, brothers Dave and John. We went down this journey once before, and I am thrilled to be creating memories and sharing experiences with them once again. This time around we are leaving the rolling hills of Madison,Wisconsin for the long steady climbs of Lake Placid, New York. Like IMWI, Lake Placid has a reputation as being one of the harder Ironman courses. But we conquered IMWI, we shall reign at IMLP!
Dave and John are bike beasts, and both will lead us old guys out of the water every race. Dave is our planner and probably the most knowledgeable of the sport. John is our instigator (he dragged me into this crazy sport, kicking and screaming) and our free spirit.
This time around we are joined by Dave’s son, Alex, an almost 21 year old with an accomplished triathlon pedigree. Alex is part of the University of Iowa Hawkeyes Tri-Hawks triathlon team, and is very fast. He keeps us on our toes. This will be Alex’s first time doing Ironman.
Also joining us is Jeff, another longtime family friend, and although not a total newbie to triathlon, he’s totally an Ironman newbie just like we were in 2013. Jeff separates himself from the rest of us, because I don’t believe he has reached his full potential yet. His biking and running ability is killer. But he’s got a ton of room to improve, and I fully expect to be chasing him from Lake Placid to Keene, and all around the IMLP course on race day.
Myself, I am the worrier and doubter, but these guys make me a believer. Believe in the training, believe in the goal, believe in yourself. We proved it once, and we will be Ironman finishers again!
So we had the team, it just lacked a name. John had been referring to Alex as a “gunner,” and then it just started getting bantered around to any and all of us. It was pretty clear that the name “GUNNERS” would be very fitting for our group. Now we just need to finalize a logo, get some shirts and a custom tri kit, and we’ll look like pros! That’s my hope at least.
Workouts for Week 1
We are following Don Fink’s Be Iron Fit book, and the Competitive Program training plan. Week 1 is the first of 10 Base Phase weeks, and an fairly easy entry into training. Monday is a rest day, however I have been enjoying a year long running streak that I am toying around with continuing. It’s not super important to me, but I will maintain the streak as long as it doesn’t jeopardize the Ironman training. Tuesdays are a swim and run. Wednesday a bike/run brick. Thursdays are a swim and bike. Fridays will be a run. The weekends are filled with a Saturday long ride, with Sunday being a long run. In the beginning, all of the efforts are short, but will build to the point where I will be gone on the weekends.
The training plan started the week of Christmas break for the schools, so swimming for me was not possible. That scares me a little, because I haven’t swam since September, and Fink’s swim plan is tough from the start in my opinion. But experience has told me that I can get there and not be penalized for missing the first week.
Here’s to a trouble free 30 weeks, and good times along the way! We are off to a great start.
WEEK 1 TOTALS:
Bikes: 3 total, 2 hours, approx. 28 miles
Runs: 7 total, 5 hours, approx. 36 miles (The totals higher than what the plan calls for due to the silly run streak that I am doing.)