Friday, December 30, 2011

My thoughts on "what it takes" for a fast Ironman

I have been reading the past week on various internet forums experts espousing their knowledge on what it takes to be fast at Ironman racing. Some are very, very scientific in their espousing; others very basic in their philosophy; many outwardly claim the other person is flat out wrong while they are right.

First thing I want us to all be clear on is that we are individuals. Therefore, what works for me will probably not work for you. For example, this is the best thread on Slowtwitch this year if you want a psychology experiment on the culture of keyboard experts. It is based of a simple tweet from one @pstriathlon, or Coach Paulo Sousa that basically said; Swim Fitness trumps swim technique. 245 posts later on slowtwitch (and counting) people are STILL DEBATING the merits of his tweet.

Second, the notion of the Joel Friel's Triathlete Bible 3 weeks on/1 week recovery protocol. Quite a bit of scientific study has been devoted to optimizing THE PEAK. The part of the season you are high flying and crushing it. Lance Armstrong mastered this each July for 7 years as an example. Yes, there is a base, build, speed, taper then race as common language over a season but I want to ask why 21 days on; 7 days recovery?

Third, Triathlon is a 3 sport sport. We train in the pool and lakes, ride on the trainer and the roads, run on the treadmill at the gym, in the trails, and on the roads. 3 sports: swim, bike, run.  Why is that? A gun goes off, the sport is swim, bike, run and the winner has the fastest time since the gun was sounded. That is 1 sport!

So what the hell am I getting at here?

There is no silver bullet to be faster tomorrow than you are today UNLESS, you believe the silver bullet is one word - PROCESS.

What do I think it takes to be a fast Ironman?
  • DO IT - the workouts.
  • LOG IT - in a diary to review later. Highlight the workouts you LOVED and the one's that HURT
  • REPEAT IT - again, and again, and again (the ones you love and the ones that hurt is a good starting point to repeat!)
Key rules:
  1. For 99% of us triathlon does not pay the bills. Work sport around life. Best time therefore is the time you own; morning!
  2. Consistency is critical. 
  3. If you are tired, rest
  4. Eat colored foods slowly to comfort not full
  5. And, what makes race day work is your head, not your legs, assuming you did rule #2.
My friends, my training protocol complexity is its bloody simplicity. Do the work. Shut up and do the work. The rest follows. Stay consistent. Stay focused. Repeat, repeat, repeat. 

I am seriously concerned as the sport grows athletes are looking for the next "YASSO 800" as the workout the will signify their ability to race Ironman fast.  Then want to apply that workout and say "I'm ready to crush this Ironman".  There isn't one workout. There is consistent work that gives us a high level of aerobic fitness that allows us to go for 9, 10, 11 hours in the water, on the bike, in the shoes. 

The only predictor to a fast Ironman is consistent hard work and a very fresh brain on race day that allows you to go into the depths of pain and suffering required to go faster than you thought you could. 

So, my ask is if you are training for an Ironman in 2012 and have super confusing workouts in your schedule that you have to study to understand; or have super scientific explanations to why it will work for you; or a plan that is cookie cuttered around a monthly calendar please ask yourself this: "am I getting the work done?"

Do the work. 
Do the work.
Do the work.

The do the work philosophy is why I respect coaches I have never met. Joel Filliol, Paulo Sousa, Brett Sutton. I read their material and see a simple consistent theme; consistency in hard work. It is why I respect coaches I have used in the past myself like Nigel Gray and Steve Bentley.  Do the work; repeat the work; stop complaining.

Do the work
Do the work
Do the work

Good luck in 2012.

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