Cycling was the main focus for the first week of Ironman Chattanooga training and it kicked me in the face. I struggled more than I expected but I also found out that I can take all those struggles and turn them into victories. I also learned that the plan I have put together for myself, with its sport specific weeks, proved to be successful.
As many of you know I have decided to go without a coach for this next Ironman race. I have truly enjoyed working with both Claudia and Maria but I needed to hit the reset button while also trying out something new. In training for the Lake Martin 100 I found out that being sport specific, in terms of training, helped me greatly as I was able to become a better runner and a large part of that was being able to overcome the mental hurdles that would come up.
Taking that same approach to triathlon was not easy to do. For years I have been on the swim 3-4x, bike 3-4x, run 3-4x theory. That plan seemed to work but in the back of my head I kept wondering if there was something else that could be done. By changing my routine I have gone outside of the box of triathlon and will be focused on becoming a better cyclist, a better runner and a better swimmer.
This past week was Bike Week 1. My plan was to ride approximately 265 miles while running 24 (all brick runs of 4 miles) and swimming a total of 5000 yards. I wound up finishing at 80% of my overall plan in terms of hours, but what I noticed at the end of the week was that my cycling was much better than I had expected, and that also translated to faster times running of the bike. The swimming was nothing more than recovery and to break up the monotony therefore nothing to truly be able to gauge.
The cycling wound up at 81% of overall planned time because of a late night meeting on Friday and torrential rain on Sunday that led me to only being able to get through 2 hours on the trainer before the mind decided it had enough. The majority of the riding in this Bike Week 1 was on the trainer and while I would rather ride outdoors I need to be more efficient with my time.
What came out of this week were the following two quotes while on the road with my buddies and these comments not only gave me a confidence boost but also gave me a peek into how well this particular type of training was working for me.
- Quote 1: Your fitness on this ride has improved dramatically from the ride we did two weeks ago.
- Quote 2: Great job on pulling us up that hill at the end of this ride. I was exhausted but did what I had to do to keep up with you and you did not look like you were struggling.
I cannot tell you if working on the sports instead of triathlon will prove to be the best plan but after a week it looks good. I was asked why I decided to train this way and my comment back was that as triathletes we are so focused on getting in that number of swim, bike and runs that we lose focus on becoming better at each of the sports. I think that by being able to focus all your energy on that one sport you will learn to become more efficient and we all know efficiency equals speed.
This week is Swim Week 1 with a planned 20,000 yards of swimming over the course of approximately 8 hours. My running miles will stay about the same, but the number of bike miles drops dramatically this week and will allow my legs to recover as they head into week 3 which is a running week with lots of miles.
Can this method be successful? Only time will tell, but after the first 7 days I feel like a stronger cyclist in comparison to Day 1 which was the main goal of the first week of Ironman Chattanooga training.