Saturday, October 27, 2012

How Can I Do a Faster Ironman?

What is the best way to train for events that are so close together? I'm not a fast runner, should I concentrate on speed and shorter distance during the week and up my long runs to 3 times per month? I would appreciate any help you might give me.

It’s a bike race: About half of the race is spent on the bike. So it has the greatest impact on the overall time. Get really fit on the bike and you’ll have a good finishing time—if you hold back. This last part is critical. If you go all out on the bike—your fastest possible split—you’ll walk the marathon. But if you hold back 5% on the bike you’ll come off and be ready to run, albeit, slowly. More on that in a bit. The best way to prepare for the bike is to use a power meter. It’s almost like cheating. Once you know what your power should be for the race, you just ride to that power and you produce your best time. Again, this is not a maximal (minimal?) time, but rather optimal—it leaves you with enough legs to run, not walk.

 With a swim warm-up: The swim makes up only about 10% of the race. You don’t need to swim a whole lot to get ready for it. Three swims a week will do it. And the focus _must_ be on form—not fitness. You’ll get a lot faster just by refining your technique. Let fitness takes care of itself. On race day then, what you must do is pace yourself in the swim. Get on somebody’s feet who seems to have a good pace and relax. Just keep checking to make sure the other swimmer is staying on course.

And a jog to the finish: Ok, finally, the run which you expressed concern about. There is absolutely no need to do “speed” work, as in fast intervals. It will just be a waste of your time, leave you tired most of the time, and increase your chances of injury. You’re never going to run “fast” in an Ironman. Even the pros don’t run fast. A pro man who runs a 2:50 after the bike could probably run 2:25 to 2:30 in a stand alone marathon. That’s roughly 15% slower after 112 miles on the bike. His Saturday morning run with his buddies is usually faster than that! It’s the same for you only the percentage is probably more like 20% because you will have spent more time on the bike with less training and therefore be relatively more tired. You could go out right now, with no additional training, and run the same time or even faster for 26.2 miles than you’re going to run in the Ironman. That would feel easy. It’s a jog.

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