Thursday, May 11, 2006

Training Plan

*** Warning, this is a long post about training ***

Over the last month I've been working on a training schedule for the summer. There are a few races that will be my "A" races, where I plan on leaving it all out on the course, the kind of race where you are completely sucking wind at the end. And I'll have a couple of others that will be "B" races, or races where I go for race experience and use the race a hard training period, but my main focus will be an easier goal time.

There are a few obstacles that I'm facing; having to pay for all these races, my schedule could change and trying to plan into September & October now just isn't smart, but hopefully my "A" races and goal times will be:
June 17: Moon in June 5 km or 10 km - 20:00 or 43:30
August 13: Windsor Triathlon (Long Sprint) - 1:30.00
September 16: Montreal Triathlon (Olympic) - 2:45.00
October 22(?): Run for the Cure 5 km - 20:00

My "B" races and goal times will be:
March 19: Spring Thaw 5 km - 22:00 (Done, ran 21:54)
July 14: Beat Beethoven for Breast Cancer 8 km - 34:30
July 30: Tecumseh 1/2 Marathon - 1:36.30 (7:22 pace per mile)

The key race in my schedule is the 1/2 Marathon. It's a brand new race and is being organized in part by the none other then Kona Shelley (she's actually done the Hawaii Ironman!). Building my running towards this race will put me in perfect shape for the two triathlons. Let me explain...

I read a great 16 week marathon training program in the August '05 Runner's World. It involved running three times a week and cross training at least two more times a week. I still can't commit to the time that marathon training requires, so when they wrote a 10 week half marathon version (March '06) I was sold. Now that I'm able to bike to and from work regularly again, all my cross training needs are taken care of. I only need to run three times a week to build up to half marathon distance (13.1 miles).

The three runs are organized like this:
#1 - Speed work; ranging from 4 x 400 up to 3 x 1600 (around 6:30 ppm)
#2 - Tempo runs; ranging from 2 miles up to 8 miles (around 7:35-7:40 ppm)
#3 - Long runs; starting from 6 miles and going up to 12 miles (around 7:52-8:00 ppm)

I got interested in triathlon to begin with because it doesn't focus on one event. For starters, I could never be a competitive swimmer, cyclist or runner, the talent just isn't there. Secondly, if I was only training for one sport I would get terribly bored. I need the constant change of running and cycling to keep me sane. That is what I love about this program, you have to cross train to get the most out of it. I've also read that since triathletes train for three different disciplines, they tend to have more balanced whole-body muscular development than pure cyclists or runners, whose training emphasizes only the legs. Although, I don't spend nearly enough time training for the swim.

So what about swimming? Truthfully, it's a bit of a concern. In a lot of the beginner training that I've read people talk about how nervous they are in open water, how far 1000 m can be to swim, how they are overcome with panic during the mass start. And it's all true, swimming is not easy work and I am no fish, I'm not going to blaze through any swim portion. The 'washing machine' feeling of any mass swim start is a little unsettling, but as long as I can remember, I've been swimming. I used to be a life-guard, I've been on competitive swim teams, played water-polo, so, swimming has never intimidated me. I'm totally comfortable in the water. Last year I was able to get my swims in early Saturday mornings and worked myself up to a decent 1000 m. That is still probably the best time for me to get my swimming in, I may just have to stay in the pool a little longer this year.

Most of my weeks will look something like this:
Sunday: Long bike (1+ hours)
Monday: Easy bike (to & from work) & Long run (6+ miles)
Tuesday: Speed work - bike
Wednesday: REST
Thursday: Easy bike ride (up to half of race distance at an average pace) & Speed work - running
Friday: Medium/Hard bike ride (up to half of race distance at an above average pace)
Saturday: Swim (early morning) & Tempo run (evening)

Last year all, except for my long rides, all of my cycling was done 'in transit'. So only twice during the week is there extra time commitment, and it goes towards running. My long runs will most likely start from work-home (4 miles) and then add on my different routes from around the neighbourhood. One of the most important parts to the schedule is having the long rides and long runs on back to back days. It can be punishing on the legs, but you really absorb a lot of benefits by putting the two on back to back days. I did it this way last year and it proved to be very successful for me. As long as I hit all the runs and have two hard rides during the week, I know from last year that my transit rides make up the slack. If I feel like taking an easy day, I know I'll be glad for the break.

While I've been running all winter and have got a good start on the cycling, the real build up starts at the end May and goes for 10 weeks to the end of July, leading to the 1/2 Marathon. That will put two weeks away from the Windsor Tri and in prime form. The Montreal Tri is a month after that, which leaves me plenty of time to take an easy week and then build hard again for that race. Well, that's the plan anyway...

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