Friday, November 28, 2008

The Plan

Ok, ok. I realize some of you haven't read The Triathlon Training Bible and so that annual hours question wouldn't really mean anything to you. Also, it's Thanksgiving. The hit count on this site is way, way down. Y'all are off happily stuffing yourselves with holiday food and then burning it off with long workouts, I know.

So I'm on my own with this workout decision. To help with that, I took a good long look at how those annual hours translate into weekly workouts. If we went middle of the road and chose 900 hours, Basta's longest week would be 26 hours. He'd have a few 23-24 hour weeks, a lot of 21-22 hour weeks, and smattering of weeks in the teens.

20+ hours per week is a lot of working out. Getting it done around work, eating, sleeping, and all of life's other obligations is a challenge. It leaves you time for little else.

Basta has been averaging around 10-12 hours per week for a while now. He is going to fuss, big-time, about nearly doubling that. But he's the one who chose Ironman. Despite what some of you may think, I didn't push him into this. He chose this on his own. My job is to develop his workouts and to coach him along the way.

He chose Ironman, he has to do the time. But I think 900 hours is too much. 800 is more realistic. We can always adjust as time goes on, but I think 800 is a good starting point for him. That means his longest week is 21.5 hours. The bulk is in the 17-19 range.

Making this schedule, according to the Joe Friel Triathlon Bible method, is a challenge but it's also kind of fun. It starts with the annual hours. Once I make that decision, based on Basta's goals and his planned events, I go to a chart in the book that lays out the weekly hours. These vary by week following the periodization plan: Prep, Base, Build, Peak, Race. I adjust for his geezerly state so that he gets a recovery week every 3 weeks instead of every 4.

Then I take Basta's race calendar and apply those periods to the time he has available. Key to that is which events he wants to peak for. I make note of our vacations and holidays because they will screw up a schedule, big time. Then lay in the periods to get him from start to peak. Adjusting for current fitness level may mean more or less Base or Build.

Now I know what phase and what period each week is in, so I know how many hours Basta needs to do in a given week. I'm ready to schedule a specific week.

This is where it gets really hard. Let's say he's in the second week of the Base 1 period. That's a 19 hour week. I need to spread those hours across the 3 disciplines, swim/bike/run. The bike is his weak sport at this point so I'm planning more rides than anything else. He's doing that marathon in Feb so training for that is a strong sub-note in this vast scheme. Swimming can't be ignored. Neither can the extremely important yoga. At least a couple days a week of core muscle work is useful, too. All of those workout minutes must add to 19 hours total workout time.

In Base we work on endurance and technique. Not a lot of intensity at this point. Long Slow Distance workouts and technique drills. For all 3 sports. Scheduled for gym hours, pool hours, weather forecast, social obligations, working around the various aches and pains, etc. I don't do the detailed weeks more than a week in advance because a lot of these things change too rapidly.

So for his 19 hour week, he's doing 15 mins of yoga every day, running 3x (intervals, tempo, long slow distance), swimming 2x (200m & 300m repeats), biking 4x (spinning 2x, intervals 1x, long distance 1x), and doing core+shoulder weights twice. I give him the specifics of the intervals and the pace he should strive for on the tempos.

Then I email it to him. It's his job to do as much of that as he can, and he usually does a very good job of doing the workouts as prescribed. He should tell me if it's too much or too little, or if I scheduled him to do a long bike on a day he's travelling for work, for instance. I do my part, he does his. It works.

The especially fun part of right now is that I'm now doing this for myself, too. As mentioned, I'm doing Oceanside, my first half. I need this kind of detailed training, too. Just putting in the time will only get me so far, I need the specific workouts, too. So I do his schedule, then I do mine. Since our work hours are very different they end up being quite different schedules, but the principles and the process are the same.

As of today I have his and my annual plans done, the weekly phases set, and next's weeks detailed schedule done. I feel good about this.

Time to have some turkey leftovers. Then I need to read some more specifics and get more ideas for Base 1 workouts in all 3 sports.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Yes, we're back. Been back for a while. Had a lovely time, thanks.

Basta has begun his Ironman training, sort of. I have begun training for my Half in earnest, and therein lies the problem.

Did I tell you that I signed up for Oceanside? I don't remember. Well it's in early April. Why did I sign up to do to this? Me who teaches but can't necessarily do? Because I'm tired of not necessarily doing, I guess.

I'm also tired of not being as fit as I want to be, of carrying around these 20 extra pounds that I just can't shake, and of watching from the sidelines. Yes, I do the occasional sprint. I run the occasional half marathon. But I'm not really into this. I read about it, write about, coach it, and admire it when Basta does it. But I don't actually do much of it myself.

It's high time to do it on my own. So, I signed up. I gave credit card number to website and thus obligated myself to 20 weeks of swim/bike/run/repeat. Ignoring the fact that I really don't like to swim or bike that much. Yes, ignoring that with my head turned fully away and my jaw set stubbornly. That is irrelevant at this point.

Then I sketched out my training program. I'm in Week 3 right now. My goal is to not get pulled from the course. To beat the 8-hour time limit. If I had to do the event today I don't think I'd make that time, so I have much work to do.

So far I've done every workout that I've scheduled for myself. Go me. But I'm pooped. Tired. Exhausted. My legs are lead and it makes me weary just to trudge up a flight of stairs. I knew this would happen. I expected this. I saw it in Basta and I know that's how this game works. You are tired and weary and sore and miserable for a while, then it gets better. Then it gets much better.

It will take a while before it gets better, though. Probably quite a while. Right now I'm riding that fine line between sticking to my workouts and keeping from overtraining. It's hard.

It's hard on the rest of the things I do, too. This blog, for instance. A pooped Ana is not a prolific Ana.

Nor is she a particularly good coach. I need to re-read Friel's Training Bible with specific attention to Ironman training this time. I need to develop Basta's overall plan with ideas for each phase, then specifics for at least a few weeks in advance. I just haven't had the energy to do it. I've been faking it with giving him essentially the same workouts as he's done all along, throwing in some bricks and a bit longer times. I need to do better than that. It's early yet, and he really doesn't need to start serious training for a couple of weeks. I'm calling this, 'prelude to seriousness' and hoping to get a respectable plan together for him soon.

I will. This being a holiday weekend I'll have some extra time to focus on the training and the writing along with the festivities and the planned long workouts. Plus the guilt is getting to me so I must do it, no matter how tired I am.

As for this blog, I may have run out of fascinating things to say about Basta's training. Ironman will be more of the same, just longer and longer. I'll write about him and his training if something interesting arises, of course. I can't let his legions of (largely non-commenting) fans down, after all. But I think I'll branch out and write about my own training struggles a bit. Maybe. So long as it doesn't start to sound like whining.

But before we do any of that, help me with his schedule. The first step and most important aspect of building his training schedule is to choose his annual hours. For Ironman, Joe Friel suggests between 600-1200 hours, depending on a number of factors, such as your age, time available to train, how competitive you want to be, and your fitness starting point.

For the half-ironman he suggests between 500-700 hours spent training per year. I initially chose 600 but found that was too much and backed down to 500. 500 was good for Basta and he took to that training program well.

Now he's ready for more. He's ready for Ironman. His fitness base is very, very good. He can do more hours.

He has as much training time available as he wants. His work schedule is flexible, we have no kids, the dog takes up little time, and the spouse (me) is busy with her own workouts and so isn't giving him grief about missed home time.

But he is 54 years old. He's healthy and strong but it will take him longer to recover than it will a younger man.

And does he want Ironman to be his entire life? Or just the vast majority of it for the next 5 months? That's a big unknown at this point.

So what do you think? What should his annual hours be? I'll post a poll, I think. The lowest -- 600 hours? That's not much more than he's doing now. The highest -- really push him to train as much as he can possibly train? Or somewhere in between. Voice an opinion if you have one.