First, rest. And a lot of Chipotle burritos. Some booze and NFL and late nights. And a bit of a work block if you will–time spent focusing on my real job. Generally, healing physically and recharging mentally while unwinding a little bit to take my mind off triathlon. However, it will be good to get back out there–I am beginning to suffer from the condition known as post-Ironman (70.3) depression–the emotional and physical funk triathletes slip into soon after completing the athletic goal they’ve been focusing on for months. Google it–it’s sadly a real thing.
Run: Once I feel up to it, I will start training for the Philadelphia Marathon, which will be my first crack at the distance. I was on the fence for a while because I wasn’t sure my hip would cooperate for a running focus. Further, I am sure an open marathon is not the best thing for me as a triathlete. However, I want to experience 26.2 as a distance without 5-6 hours of exercise beforehand. And I like to run, so there’s that. My reach goal is to pop under 2:40, but that is contingent upon actually getting respectable run mileage completed while keeping in check all the various pains that running invariably inflicts. I know a sub 2:40 (and possibly sub 2:35) is in me in life, I just don’t know if I will be able to do the necessary training to get there in the next 6 weeks. I plan to keep the engine tickling over in cycling and swimming, but I won’t be logging much volume.
Swim: Then, I’ll let my running injuries heal as I put in a 6-week swimming block (*shudder*). This will consist of swimming nearly every day and logging upwards of 25-30 km per week. I may do some of this with a local master’s squad to keep it interesting. Unfortunately, I need to do this because a) my swim was by far my weakest split in my last race at Pocono and b) I have stopped seeing improvements with the 15 km or so I have been logging. Below, especially by looking at the 6-week moving average (the black line), you can see that I got a lot faster at first and a little bit faster as I increased volume, but this improvement has largely stagnated.
I haven’t done enough research to know what kind of training I need to do (e.g. should I really start doing strokes other than freestyle?), but I know simply swimming more is fundamental to every school of thought on fish development.
Bike: Finally, around the new year, it will be time to raise the left even as I fill the right on the bike–that is to say, I plan to work on my threshold power while doing a lot of endurance and sweet spot riding…a lot of riding in general, really, up hills and through valleys, on the road bike, on the tri bike, on the trainer…I may even join a few spin classes. My goal is to go into next season with a ironclad threshold power of 300 Watts. I like the roundness of that number, and it would represent a healthy improvement of about 5% compared to where I am now.
Triathlon: In March and April, I’ll be hammering on all three disciplines during the most important build yet–and on a fourth discipline, too, which is heat training–in preparation for Ironman 70.3 St. Croix in May and Ironman 70.3 Eagleman in June. Both will be hot, both will be hard, and both fields will be stacked with top-caliber competition.
My early goal is to ride St. Croix at this year’s half-Iron power but with an Intensity Factor closer to 0.8 than 0.9 (i.e. at 80% of my threshold power) so that I can have a very strong run. The run at St. Croix (and the stifling heat and humidity) is notorious for chewing up athletes who push the very difficult and hilly bike–not just newbs either, many a top pro have crumbled during the last leg on that island. If I can bike well but easy enough to set up a solid run (“solid” means under 1:25 given the anticipated conditions), it will set me up nicely in the age-group race.
While you can’t control who shows up and who performs on race day, I’d be remiss if I didn’t state flat out what my macro goals are for St. Croix (or, failing that, for Eagleman): the Kona slot. That’s right, I said it…I want to race the biggest and most important race in long-course triathlon on a pristine tropical island against the best triathletes on the planet. I want to do the full 140.6. But I want to own the half Iron distance first and prove that I’m ready to go long and that I’m ready to take the heat. St. Croix is like a mini Kona–my performance in the Virgin Islands will either confirm or deny my readiness for Hawaii. (Ironically, I may be so broke from these races, plus Vegas 70.3 World Champs in September, that I can’t afford Kona, but I guess that’s what credit is for.)
Most importantly, I want to keep having fun with this thing. Towards the end of this season, I was feeling awful physically and burnt out mentally. Sometimes you just need to go out and enjoy a bike ride or a run and forget about what it says about you as a human.