Ironman Vineman 2016 Training Summary

What’s the Plan?

As this was my first Ironman, before training started, I spent a lot of time researching which training plan should I follow. I liked the idea of having a specific training plan because each workout is clearly scheduled, one can follow without having to worry about intensity/duration/recovery etc.

However, anticipating the arrival of our first baby Alex in March, I opted for a more “flexible” training plan where the duration and intensity is set on a weekly basis and one can design individual workouts to meet the weekly goal.

I’ve been a big fan of Joe Friel’s training philosophies as he laid out in his book The Triathlete’s Training Bible. TrainingPeaks is an excellent tool to help apply Joe’s training principles. On TrainingPeaks, I entered my anticipated training start date, dates of my races, and average number hours I can set aside for training, and My 2016 Annual Training Plan was set with periodization built in. In a glance, I would be training between 5.7 to 11.7 hours per week with a 4 week recovery cycle — seems manageable!

My 2016 Annual Training Plan (http://TrainingPeaks.com)

The Training

My training officially started on Dec. 28th 2015. From the chart above, the height of the grey bar indicates the planned duration for a given week while the color indicated different periods (Base/Build/Peak/Race). The color indicated the actual completed time.

I was largely following the plan for 3 weeks until I had to go through a planned arm surgery. I couldn’t do any workouts for one week while in a hard arm cast and I was told no swimming for at least 4 weeks (which turned out to be much longer because of what happened next).

I was able to pick up my training again the second week after the surgery for 2 weeks, until I had to go to the ER for another surgery on the same arm 2 weeks later.

This turned out to be a major setback. I was put in another cast for 4 weeks. The doctor agreed to put me in a removable arm brace 2 days before Alex’s due date. Another 4 weeks with no training at all (more on the performance impact at the end). I couldn’t wait to resume training after Alex was discharged from the hospital days after the removal of the cast. I decided my first workout should be a run from the hospital back home. That run was very important for me for several reasons.

  1. This is my first workout after the cast was removed. I fear my mind has became weaker and I’ve lost my earlier motivation and momentum. I needed this workout to restart regular training.
  2. Alex is here. Workout should happen whenever time permits. I needed this workout to make sure I could still train with my new lifestyle change.

Training Post Surgeries

The hospital-back-home run did indeed got me back on my feet but regular training didn’t really start until 1 month later. For the next 4 weeks after Alex was born, I found myself constantly fighting to get off the bed in the morning to train after waking up 2–3 times for night feedings. Morning workouts got pushed to night workouts which affected my next morning workout. I was completing 50% of my planned workouts. Workouts that were done during that time often ended up being at a lower intensity as well. This was becoming a very ineffective use of my time.

Things didn’t start becoming better until 4 weeks before Auburn — my first triathlon of the season. I was permitted to swim again 2 weeks before this race and it will be my first bike ride under the sun since January. I finished in 8 hours. I was very happy to be able to race and to finish another tough triathlon after my arm surgeries. However, I was not satisfied with my time. It also occurred to me that there were only 10 weeks left to train for Vineman.

The last 10 weeks to Vineman

This period turned out to be the most effective for me in terms of improving my fitness level. The pressure of my first Ironman and my time goal kept me on my feet. On the other end, Alex, at 2 months old, was slowly sleeping through the night, requiring only one night feeding. I was tracking 100% of my duration and intensity goal during these 10 weeks except 2 weeks when my bike was being repaired in the shop. In retrospect, skipping biking trainings in those two weeks could have a potentially big impact on my Vineman performance as the 2 weeks was in my last build period before the race when I was supposed to increase my intensity and do 1–2 hard bricks.

My Overall Progress

Blue area represents my overall fitness based on my current fitness level and the training load. The purple line indicates my training load. The yellow line indicates my form or freshness.

My performance so far in 2016 — not something I’m very proud of

By the Numbers

Duration

My training time allocation
  1. Over half of the training time was spent on the saddle or 89 hours or 1545 miles.
  2. 66 hours was spent running 420 miles.
  3. Swimming consists 10% of my total training time. I spent 18 hours in the pool swimming ~55,000 yards.
  4. Total training time was 173 hours in 24 weeks (29 wks-5 wks when I was in cast). Or 7.2h/week on average, 30% below the planned volume.

Intensity

  1. 85% of the total training or 77% of the run was done in Z1/Z2.
  2. 56% of the bike training was done with Z1/Z2 power.

This is my training progress in the first half of 2016 and here are my thoughts:

  1. Joe Friel’s method of periodization worked very well with me. TrainingPeaks made it very easy to implement it.
  2. Having flexibility over my own workouts is very important but too much flexibility equals no planning. I found it it to be effective to plan key sessions 4+ weeks out (usually in the form of long bricks), quality sessions (long ride or long run) at least 1 weeks ahead and fill the rest of the available time with rest/recovery workouts.
  3. A good chunk of the Build period ended up being used to build my endurance as there were too many skipped workouts in the Base period. This affected my overall performance as I don’t see much improvement in terms of my cruise speed, FTP and threshold pace from last season. Now with a decent base, I plan to increase the overall intensity of my training in the 2nd half of 2016.
  4. I gave my training plan an overall rating of 80/1o0 while my execution a 60/100.
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