Sunday, March 22, 2009

Trusting the Process

Trusting the Process

Do you trust the process? Do you have "a process" or training program?

With the Ironman 70.3 California only 2 weeks away, it is officially TAPER TIME. I can sleep at night because I know the hay is in the barn; the necessary hard work is done.

My training has been spot-on and I am close to lifetime-best fitness. The opportunity is there to set a new personal record for the Half-Ironman distance. That said, the Ironman 70.3 California course is much more challenging than meets the eye. WIND will be the "X Factor" on the bike, slowing down even the top professional riders by an average of 12 minutes over other half ironman races for the 56 mile bike leg.

Since January I have been fortunate enough to remain healthy, averaging 20 hours per week of training. Without any lactate threshold or Max Vo2 training sessions on the bike or run, I feel that I have been able to absorb this volume better than I would have with a traditional (periodized volume + speedwork) program. I also have dropped my weight from a post-layoff 195lbs in early January down to a svelte 178lbs today, March 20th. Zero injuries or even nagging pains (knock knock!).

After zero running due to injury from November through early February, my running form is coming along just in time. My Maximum Aerobic Function, or "MAF" pace at AeT is down to just under 7 minutes per mile. I have dropped that pace over 40 seconds per mile in the last month simply by increasing my mileage and performing all runs with a heart rate cap of 150. It worked! Since my goal was to drop my MAF pace to 6:49 by June, it looks like I am right on target.

It's all about AeT, baby!

There are many benefits to my AeT/Steady/Zone2 training protocol, chiefly steady improvement, specific metrics for aerobic development, and injury prevention. On Saturday I ran 15 miles at 6:50s pace averaging a heart rate in the 140s, which is almost 10bpm under my "marathon" pace. I finished feeling fresh and stoked. In the past that would be unthinkable. In fact, only a month ago my pace for this run would have been in the 7:40s or slower. I trust the process.

Having not reached a performance plateau, I have continued to train for this race without the "special sauce" of Lactate Threshold pace training. As long as I continue to improve without the higher-risk intensity training, there is no reason to go above my "Steady" pace. I have learned quite a bit about patience, trusting the plan, and practicing what I preach.

I have always been able to trace overuse injuries to sharp increases in running volume and/or intensity. Not this year! I have followed my 10 percent increase per week rule, for the first time in my life. It pays dividends...This week was just my first over 40 miles/week, and I have not done any runs over 1hr45...that's right...NO long runs. There wasn't enough time to increase the duration of my longest run to even 2hrs according to my 10% rule. In the past, I would have several 3-4 hour mountain runs under my belt in addition to my traditional triathlon training. This time since I am on the comeback trail from injury I have erred on the very conservative and very low-mileage side and it has paid off! Of course I define that "payoff" as zero recurrence of injury and constant improvement in pace per mile at a 149 heart rate, power on the bike at AeT, and swimming endurance.

This summer I will truly reap the benefits of this extended base training period when I finally do carefully insert speedwork into my routine. My body will be more able to absorb the rigors of the intensity with a stronger engine AND chassis. Again, this closely matches what Mark Allen, Gordo and others have always prescribed...

Lastly, I added a new horse to the stable! Yes, next to the Turner Flux & Giant TCR Advanced there is now a CERVELO P2C. I was fitted by Greg at RocknRoad Cyclery and the bike fits me like a glove.
This is the bike that I will ride throughout the season, in my quest to qualify for the Hawaii Ironman World Championships! I have not yet named her, but I am open to suggestions.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Malibu Madness

Quick training update...More Mountain Madness this weekend...I have also updated my 2009 Race Schedule, including several more bike races.

I am in the middle of the final push for Ironman 70.3 California. The goal is a personal record and a time that will qualify me for a domestic Ironman, such as Ironman Couer d'Alene or Ironman Canada (they are all sold out, so you have to qualify at this race if you want to do a domestic Ironman, to hopefully qualify for the Kona Ironman...follow me?) Things are progressing nicely, with rolling 20+ hour training weeks in my legs over the last couple months.

On Saturday my Team teammate Cyril Jay-Rayon and I will ride 125 miles in the Santa Monica mountains, with about 12,000' of elevation gain. The ride will start and finish in Santa Monica, riding up PCH through Malibu. We plan on including most of the classic climbs...Yerba Buensa, Latigo, Piuma, Old Topanga, Mulholland etc. I will try to post BlackBerry photos during the ride at water stops.

After this weekend I am only 3 weeks removed from Ironman California 70.3, which means I have about one more week to actually "train" before tapering down for the race. Physiological adaptations take approximately 15 days, so any "monster" training sessions in the final two weeks are counterproductive. Hence, I am going to make this and next weekend count!

Lastly, running is coming along well. Aerobic pace has dropped from 7:40s in February when I came off my leg injury, down to the 7:20s. My goal is still to drop that down to 6:50s by my "A" races this summer. Looks like I am on schedule. I have done ZERO hard training or tempo runs. I have continued on the Mark Allen program of simply building volume at a Steady pace, or just at or under your first deepening of breath. For me, coincidentally that happens to be a heart rate of around 150bpm. Until I plateau for a couple weeks, I will continue this approach. Since my goal pace in a Half Ironman or full Ironman is not going to be faster than this "Aerobic" pace, this metric is particularly useful.