We’re now in the critical phase and whilst you’ve had no swimming, remember that everyone else is in the same boat, so you’re not going to be disadvantaged in competition more than anyone else. The bands remain critical, do as much as you can tolerate, but at least do them 3 times per week for 30 minutes, it’s help you when you get back into the water. That said, you’re all aerobically fit and you’ll probably find you just need a few weeks to get the feel for the water and then you’ll be back to normal quicker than you anticipated.
If we go right back to the first blocks, our only goal was to establish a routine and then we progressed to split into different pathways, first for bike only, then for run. Your pathways will diverge further still as you each have different events which require peaks at different times of year.
Pathway A & B is pretty simple. At either end of the 2 extremes, pathway A riders cannot produce a high amount of power for a short period of time, so the plan was designed to develop basic power, before progressing any further. Pathway B riders can already produce a relatively high amount of power and have therefore progressed to focus more on sustaining output by developing an aerobic foundation.
We also asked you to question your own run ability and rate yourself over 200m, 5k and marathon distance, to establish whether you are pathway A or B for running. At the start of this block the run sessions therefore varied slightly depending upon your own ratings.
I said a couple of months ago that it was important for you to understand why you are following a specific pathway and why it is important for you to learn about your own physiology, strengths and weaknesses. You should have a good idea of where you sit on the spectrum between A & B for both bike and run and that should naturally tell you what kind of training is best for you personally. I’d much prefer for you to learn about yourselves than just give you a plan and say ‘do that’.
So we’re now 18 weeks from summer, entering the critical phase. Here’s the things you need to know:
If you’re on pathway A, you’ll now start moving away from ‘high power’ (we have to do it at some point), but we will do enough to ‘maintain it’ whilst focusing on developing endurance.
If you’re on pathway B, you will continue to build endurance as per previous block with natural progressions, whilst still doing small amounts of high intensity to maintain your output.
I’ve said for a few months now that the long ride and run are critical for everyone. They should be done ‘slowly’ and you should try to hit the maximum time rather than the minimum. If the session says 2-2.5 hours run or 3-4.5 hours bike, always aim for the maximum rather than the minimum and slow down to do more time, rather than going shorter and harder. You must now build that resilience needed for longer distances. This applies for everyone, but you could argue more so for pathway B.
You can add more volume as required, around the key sessions. So for the turbo workouts, you can add 30-60 minutes zone 1 either side of it. For the long ride, I’m happy now you’ve completed your 100 mile challenge, if you choose to do a bit extra on Sundays too. If 100 miles becomes regular, as long as it’s easy and doesn’t wipe you out for 2 days, crack on. You can also add a little more volume to running, extend the warm up to make a 30 minute session a 1 hour session. The obvious issue with this is time available, but if you’re lucky enough to have it, then use it. Never do more high intensity reps, simply add more level 1 volume at the start and end.
Don’t over focus on the bike and ignore the run. In 90% of cases stuff goes wrong on the Ironman run course, not the bike course. You need to be a strong biker and have the resilience to reach T2 feeling good, but then you still need to run the marathon. There is a tendency for people to over-focus on the bike (because they prefer it) then run / walk a 5 hour marathon. You know where your own strengths and weaknesses lie and where your biggest time savings are, don’t choose to ignore them because it suits you.
If you’re racing in summer then we have only 1 more block of general training which will focus on volume. Big rides and runs are critical for physical and mental purposes. You then enter the ‘specific block’. In the specific block you’ll practice in the TT position, ride at IM pace and do brick sessions etc. You can do a lot in 16 weeks, so reset and get ready to go.