Planning your training week: Ironman Program

On July 27th I will be in Lake Placid, the two-time home of great Olympians, to test my endurance and determination in the Ironman triathlon. As you may have gathered from perusing our site, my wife will be competing with me (or against me) while my 2 kids, 2 jobs and one dog with a lot of patience all look on from the sidelines. Yes, we are crazy. Thanks for asking.

Preparing for race day is essentially my third job. I have secured a relentless coach through our local triathlon club who has set a rigid schedule to ensure I am present and fully capable of mastering the oldest Ironman in the continental US, the country’s second after the World Championship race on the Big Island of Hawaii. My coach is half Mr. Miyagi, half Yoda, and half Miss Helen Seymour from the Chronicles of Young Indiana Jones. Yes, that’s one too many halfs but she is that good.

Among my toughest challenges in following her rigorous schedule is that caring for my family, dealing with the occasional illness and life in general tends to get in the way. In the past, I have trained for 1/2 Ironman races and found myself stressing over missing a workout here and there. For this kind of grueling endurance race, even the little workouts matter. So for this year, this race, I am striving to change my mentality about balancing it all out. My goal remains getting all of my workouts in each week and hitting all the right targets throughout my training season. But in reality, I will probably not make all the workouts. And that’s OK. I’m willing to bet that I’m not the only competitor with a real life outside the Ironman. To make training schedule both powerful and practical, just like in business, you have to prioritize.

Here are my priorities when I know my week is going to be especially crazy:

1) Schedule your most important work outs. Typically this is your long ride and long run. My preference is to schedule my long ride early Friday morning. Usually wheels up at 4am. Then I get my run in on Saturday or Sunday.

2) Focus on swim sets. This is important as the swim start can be the most frightening aspect of the race. And finding uninterrupted pool time is difficult.  Get at least one session scheduled before moving on to the rest of your calendar. Lake Placid is a narrow course so full-contact swimming is just part of the fun. Lining up wide for a little privacy under the water will add a few meters to your distance, so prepare to swim further or fight for a prime spot.

3) Look for one hour pockets of time for bike and run work outs anytime during the week that I can fit them in my schedule. Or a short 30 minute core workout – oh, if my clients only knew what I was doing during our conference calls.  I tend to lean towards bike workouts first as that is my weakest leg of the race. The hills starting at mile 35, outside the town of Jay, catch a lot of riders off balance because they usually put everything into the hard climb out of town. Pace yourself are prepare for the second incline.

4) Think about course specific needs. Hills, heat conditions, etc., and try to plan a workout to help condition me for that aspect. As we get closer to July, it will become clear what the weather will look like in far upstate NY, near the Canadian border and less than 100 miles from Montreal. The Adirondacks tend to max out around 80 degrees in July but there will be plenty of hills to heat things up for both the riding and the running legs.

During a great week, I will complete all the workouts on my coach’s schedule just not in the order she has recommended. There are other weeks that I get in the long ride and run, and then fill the rest of the week with mini workouts. The price may be a sour face from my coach and some harder pushes when I get back into the swing, but this is the best way to keep on pace and still keep up with the all the other demands of being a father, a husband, a pet owner and an entrepreneur.

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About the author

To Greg, rest is overrated. As a CEO of a small business emerging from bankruptcy, he spends the workday applying his skill as a turnaround restructuring expert to implement business plans that achieve success. His experience with maximizing resources applies to all aspects of his life. Greg balances family, work and an ambitious training regimen as he prepares for the Ironman Lake Placid Triathlon. Like the event itself, his daily life covers lots of different terrain.

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