As I prepare for my A race this year I have decided to follow a 32 week Ironman training plan written by RGA Active. Having used one of their plans before I know they work for me. Although Tri Alpe D’Huez is a middle distance, because of the amount of climbing and generally challenging terrain, it is generally regarded as being the equivalent to a full distance race.
Never having raced either, I’m not taking any chances! Just from a confidence point of view I think it is best to arrive at the start of the swim feeling like I might get to the end of the run in one piece and be able to get a wiggle on in the process. So when I spotted an article on the 220Triathlon site that seemed to offer some good advice. Here are some of the key points, but would recommend visiting their site and reading the full article. This is based on the work for the very well respected Joe Friel.
Five long rides
There are many important long workouts in the nine build weeks covering the swim, bike and run. Of these, the most important and the best predictor of success is your long ride. About half of your Iron-race will be spent on the bike; that alone makes it the most important workout. And the more fit you become for the bike, the more you can hold back, still produce a fast split and be left with fresh enough legs for a good run.
These long rides should be done mostly at goal race intensity. This could be based on heart rate or power, although I prefer power. The key here is not duration but rather the ability to maintain a high goal power output. These five long rides should be 5-6hrs each. At the end of each, run for 15mins.
Four long runs
These should be 2.5-3hrs each. There are only four scheduled because this is the workout most likely to result in an overuse injury. Plus running longer than three hours won’t make you appreciably more fit but will greatly increase your risk of injury.
If you are forced to do both the long runs and the long rides on the weekend, then do the run on Saturday and bike on Sunday – running on tired legs increases your risk of injury.
These long runs should be at goal race intensity or slightly faster. You’re not trying to build your capacity for running fast, but rather to increase your aerobic endurance pace. If you get faster at a zone-2 heart rate, you’ll probably run very well on race day.
To make your long runs more race-like, do them after a 60-90min ride including a lot of zone 3 effort.
Seven long swims
Do seven long swims of 3km each – the majority at goal race-pace – including intervals of 500m or more. The best predictor of how you’ll do on race day is how well you can maintain goal pace on these swims, especially the last one.
If you’re a front-row starter who intends to go out fast on race day, be sure to include such pacing in the first interval each time, so that you become accustomed to it.
For more on Joe Friel’s training methods visit joefrielsblog.com