We’re inside of 100 days until Ironman Mont Tremblant. Is your training progressing the way you had hoped? Is my training progressing the way I had hoped? Let’s find out!
I’m using the the Performance Management Chart from Training Peaks to show the positive trend in my fitness since February. This most recent four month training block featured a heavy run focus for two reasons: it’s my weakest discipline and I ran a marathon two weeks ago. For those keeping score at home, I’m finally recovered. Thank you, thank you. I know, it’s crazy how much a marathon sucks the life out of you.
I’ll also compare this training build to 2017 when I was training for my first Ironman in Lake Placid. So first, let’s take a look at how this current season is trending.
2019 Ironman Mont Tremblant build
My fitness (CTL, a.k.a. chronic training load a.k.a. the blue line) is on a steady incline. That’s important for a variety of reasons. The most critical being that I’m consistent with my training. The last few months haven’t been haphazard or only doing workouts when I find time. It’s structured, scheduled, and fits into my schedule. I cannot stress the importance of that enough. A training plan is nothing more than blocks on a screen if you’re unable to consistently complete sessions.
Additionally, this type of progression means I’m not burying myself day after day and unable to recover. I’m taking a sensible approach to training for my second Ironman, as evidenced by the steady progression in the chart. When you see athletes with big spikes in CTL and the subsequent dips in fitness, that’s a sign of overly intense training that requires an extended recovery. That leads to an inconsistent training load.
At the start of February, I had a CTL of 46. Since then I’ve increased it by more than 60%. Despite the early season run focus I also increased my bike FTP in that time by 6% as well. How did I do it? With a mix of intense workouts followed by active recovery days.
My weekly cycling workouts typically feature a VO2 Max effort on Tuesday, anywhere from 60-90 minutes. Thursdays are more of a sweet spot/threshold workout between 60 and 75 minutes. And Saturdays are the long endurance rides of 3+ hours.
Run workouts follow a similar approach, only with added recovery sessions. And by recovery,r I mean between 9:30-10:00/mile pace.
Let’s take a look back at my build to Ironman Lake Placid in 2017. The Performance Management Chart shows a nice positive trajectory here as well. The CTL is a touch higher at points during 2017. I have a theory on why that is, which I’ll get to.
I peaked at a CTL of 84 towards the end of April 2017. That was the highest it was all year. I think I did very well at IMLP, finishing in 11:55:53. So, it’s encouraging that I’m tracking a similar course, at least as far as Training Peaks is concerned.
What’s the difference?
There is one big difference I’m noticing as I train towards my second Ironman this August. That is my training volume. I’m training at a lower volume than I was two years ago. Why? For starters, I’m a dad now. That takes up a lot of my time, obviously. But it also affects sleep, available training time, nutrition, and a whole host of other things.
I also have a full-time job and a growing small business to manage. These aren’t uncommon things for triathletes. But it’s a drastic change from 2017 when I didn’t have a child or my own business to operate. I had ample time to sleep, eat, and train. This is why I stressed earlier in the article how important it is to build a plan that fits your lifestyle and training time available. If you’re trying to squeeze 15 hours of weekly training into a window that’s only 9 hours long, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
In my case, right now I’m averaging between 7 and 8 hours of training per week. It’s a bit skewed because the weather has been mostly shit in Upstate New York since November and the outdoor rides have been few and far in between this spring. Instead, I’ve tried to maximize my time on the bike trainer with dedicated workouts that’ll increase my fitness without keeping me indoors for more than 2.5 hours. In 2017, at this time I averaged between 12 and 13 hours per week of training.
Another difference has been the increased attention on my running. My percentage splits between swim, bike, run have been heavy on the run this winter into the beginning of spring. Some might look at the numbers in a silo and believe it’s too much running. Time will tell. The good news is that your run fitness holds much longer than the other two disciplines. That means the bike volume can increase and I won’t have to worry all that much about losing my run fitness with a handful of focused efforts throughout the week.
On the horizon
With the marathon out of the way, my focus is now on 70.3 Connecticut on Sunday, June 2. That’ll be a good depiction of where I’m at with my progression and what needs improvement moving through the summer.