Off-Season: Working On My Weaknesses

Happy October! Since one of my goals is to write a little more frequently, so that each blog entry isn’t an entire book – I’m going to share what’s been going on so far this fall, and how my off-season is shaping up. I’m also thinking that the theme of the next few posts will revolve around off-season and what I’m doing to prepare for my first Ironman build for Coeur d’Alene next June. Reading through this last season’s race results and recaps, it’s clear that my swim and bike have improved significantly since the previous season. All of the races I did this year were unique: Deschutes Dash features a very short 1300m downriver swim, and an incredibly challenging 2000ft climb on the 25 mile bike. Lake Stevens 70.3 was a much tougher 56 (over twice the climbing) mile bike comparing it to Austin 70.3, my only other Half-Ironman. And Aluminum has a short 1000m swim, with a long 50k (31 mile) bike.

I used two different primary ways of evaluating this year’s performances to last years. First, I compared my overall standings in each discipline between the two seasons. Second, I used an obscene amount of data that I have available through Garmin and Training Peaks. My swims in every race were significantly more competitive overall this year, my bikes were much more competitive as well. No surprise, but my run continued to be right at the top and I even had my first race where I captured the fastest run of the day at Aluminum Man.

I have identified both the swim and the bike as my primary areas of focus for the next few months. I no longer want to rely on my run to catch the field, but want to be able to use the run to secure my placing and wins, be it in my age group (AG) or overall (OA). I will spell out the high-level goals that I have for the two disciplines, and then do a deep dive for both the swim and bike over the next couple of weeks.

The Swim

Anticipating the jump to Ironman next year – I know that my overall volume needs to increase. I also know that I am capable of a competitive time, and am going to lock in the goal of a one hour (1:00) swim at Ironman CDA. For the next 3 months I am focused on increasing my volume and frequency. I will go to 2 Masters swims a week where we focus on speed, spending a lot of time doing threshold paced work. I will spend 2 days a week working on form and drills, and have one day that is more endurance focused. The goal will be 10,000-15,000 yards/week over 4 or 5 days of swimming. I am in talks with our Masters coach to get some video analysis and 1:1 coaching done as well. Right now I can swim my 300’s right around 1:25/yard pace pretty comfortably on about 15 seconds of rest. I’m going to try and get these under 1:20 by the end of the year. More to come on workouts and progress!

The Bike

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve joined TrainerRoad and after talking with the guys on SlowTwitch, I am going to put in a block over the next few months to develop a strong base for Ironman training. I am doing the ‘Traditional Base – Low Volume II’ program to start, and will evaluate and increase after 4 weeks. I have done my first FTP test using their Virtual Power and measured a 287 FTP. I was a bit disappointed, but it gives me a true metric to use for training and a great starting block to build on. The training will be focused on FTP work, both right above and right below. Sweet spot intervals, and the endurance rides will contain a fair amount of quality. As I learn more and develop on the Bike, I will continue to share my progress as well as lessons learned.