Ok, so I thought I would share, but we warned, it’s a long post. I thought it might be helpful for people who are starting any plan but are not sure if the volumes, the intensity or structure will set them up for success. When I started, I couldn’t find anyone who had fully committed to plan without adding, or adapting a plan. I wanted people who went full deep dive. No adjustments, no training groups, just an athlete going it completely alone, just ticking off the sessions. Ok, here we go.
When I started doing tris again after 4 years off, I was curious what would happen if I followed a tri plan exclusively. What would the results be if I dedicated myself to a structed plan written by a software company, What would happen if I did 99.8% of my rides indoor only, followed the run sessions, and swam twice a week. 1 final thing. My wife and I were having our first baby in the middle of all this, so I didn’t want to be ever far away from my pregnant wife/new family.
Ok, background first, this isn’t my first rodeo. Id previously competed in triathlons for 10 years as a FOP age grouper. I would train on average 18hrs a week across the year. Huge mileage but without any real structure. The just do heaps mentality, but I gave that all up for 4 years to bike racing. No swimming, no running, just a lot of kilometres per week cycling, but 2 snapped collarbones in 1 year from it all. The wife was happy for me to take up triathlon again.
My best IM time is a 9.24, but ive always had terrible half ironmans, so there was my challenge, can Trainerroad help me get through a HIM race after 4years off, plus a new baby. My goals were to simply enjoy myself, and not die on the run.
I used the Base /Build / Spec Half Ironman plans, all in mid volume. I thought I would share my biggest learnings from this whole experience.
Following the advice or Johnathon, Nate and Chad, I trained on erg mode kickr, gearing was 4th biggest tooth for high inertia training, and trained in my time trial position. I manually adjusted my FTP along the way when the longer threshold intervals started to feel easy, and worked through to end up only being 15 watts lower then my road bike position. These guys have helped me understand training with power better then any book could ever teach me.
Fuelling is super important to getting through each week, I fuel every workout, be it a gel, some lollies, a coffee, or full blown race nutrition and timing for those longer Saturday and Sundays sessions. Some weeks I got my daily nutrition wrong ( I was trying to loose a little weight) and it would always bite me a week or 2 later. These forced me to stop training to get my calories back on track.
Practise race day nutrition, gear, and pacing. There is no better way to learn. I rode only twice outdoors over a 4 month (the whole summer indoors) period to see my progress and test outside skills, gear and position.
Trainer ride are really hard – they will make you a better, stronger rider in way less time. My biggest week was 13hrs. That is 13hrs of absolute gold A grade training. No junk, no lights, no rolling, just pure focused training.
Learning to run again was hard. My body hurt, ankles, feet, arse….it hurt, and it felt slow. The run sessions have enough structure to make them fun, but I do recommend you get onto Jack Daniels VDOT and use them as pace guides for your intervals.
The hardest part was swimming – I didn’t have a squad, so I had to battle the public lanes, swim when I could, and just get by. I went up dropping my 400m times from 6min 40s to 6min per 400 at a 7 out of 10 effort level.
Swim - super comfortably, coming out in less the 30mins, not stressed, HR was low.
Ride – I did the hard stuff in training. I was comfortable on the road. I had to watch my effort, and control myself as I felt awesome – 220 NP or 75%FTP with a VI of 1.05 in a race that included 5 laps, a 1km hill climb each lap, and a course that had head winds, technical sections. I got off the bike feeling amazing. Also I will add I never rode 90km in training, so this was my longest ride in 4 months.
Run - had a plan to run 4.30min/km pace. I shot out of the at 4.20 pace and despite my best efforts to slow down, I ran comfortably a 4.22 pace the way to the end, finishing in my best half ironman run result ever. I crossed the line tired, but not hollow, strong, and not crawling.
For those who may be wondering, trust the process, really just focus on 1 session at a time, don’t think about anything else. I use training peaks and the PCM chart is bloody impressive the last 90 days. The Trainerroad crew really do put together a fantastic plan that I would use and trust for any event.