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Ironman Bike Pacing
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younggun




Joined: 26 Apr 2005
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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2005 9:16 am    Post subject: Ironman Bike Pacing Reply with quote

I've been asked several times recently about my take on bike pacing in IM – a typical question being "if I ride faster, how much time will I lose on the run?". I did a sketch for AndyS in the "IMUK with limited running training" thread. I thought I'd tart up that sketch and post in its own thread as it's probably worthy. Here it is:



The diagram shows how a hypothetical athlete's run split and overall time vary with your bike pace. I calculated the bike split from the bike pace (mph on the x axis) and added my opinion of a typical effect on the athlete's run split. I then totalled the times using a hypothetical 1:15 swim.

I drew on three bike paces, A B and C :

A is the bike pace that gives you the best overall race time. This feels very slow (especially in the first half of the ride), but allows you to run a strong tempo marathon. In fact this pace is probably not far off your fresh marathon on that day (say 10-20 minutes slower). But don’t think it would feel easy like this – the second half of the marathon is still mighty tough, but you're still managing to run a decent pace. I estimate 15% of an IM field race like this.

B is a common pace employed by many athletes and gives a reasonable overall result. The bike feels hard in the final third and the run feels very tough too – but they battle it out. Most athletes perceive this is how an Ironman "is". I estimate 55% of an IM field race like this.

C is what happens if you ride too aggressively. Disaster on the run (and possibly second half of the bike – can't show that on the diagram). When athletes consider riding more aggressively (and thinking they won't lose much time on the run) this is what happens. The truth is they lose loads of time on the run. I estimate about 30% of an IM field race like this.

I get the impression from people that they think there's some kind of "wall" or "step" out there – if they exceed that pace on the bike then their run times fly up. I don't quite see it like that, I think there's a long trough in the middle. Problem is, most people miss that trough as it is a lot slower bike pace than they think. The good news is that if you ride conservatively (in that trough) then exact bike pace isn't that critical, you're going to get very close to your best time.

This is a pretty contentious subject, and this is only my take, so fire away with criticism. Hopefully it's a good thought starter.[/img]
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Last edited by younggun on Sat Jun 03, 2006 8:53 pm; edited 1 time in total
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doug




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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2005 9:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think I had first hand experience of this phenomena at the Vitruvian last year (I know its only a half), I felt good on the bike and blasted it coming in 15mins ahead of my target time - I suffered on the run being 10mins slower than my target time. OK in this case it worked in my benefit (just), but I know that doing the same thing in a full IM will not, as its an entirely different teapot of aquatics. I hope I have learnt my lesson, but Augsut 21st will tell...
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AndyS




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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2005 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's actually a very interesting graph when you look closely at it. Thanks for doing it. I'll study it some more over the weekend.
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TT
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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2005 12:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A good rule of thumb I've heard is a marathon time of 45mins slower than your flat-out marathon time. I'd be suprised if many age-groupers get within 10-20 mins of their PB (assuming that the PB is realistic). I've got close to this with a 3:47 split off a PB of 3 hours for the marathon.
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shaun




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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2005 1:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks younggun,

Raise all the lines by 2-3 hrs and you have a relative graph to match my expectations for a finishing time. Being up to 71 miles in 3:40 i hope to complete the bike in approx 6-6.15 @145Hr, but i have heard it's the last 30 miles that seperate the men from the boys. i HOPE to pass those that shot off at the start with fresh feeling legs. The gospel appears to be "go so slow that it feels too slow"

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AndyS




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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2005 1:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shaun, what's your max HR or your threshold (or whatever figure you're using to calculate 145 as your race pace) and why 145 as race pace?

Ta.
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SJB




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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2005 4:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think I was in the same boat as Doug last year at the Vitruvian, I also hammered the bike and the run was a real struggle, probably the most I have sufferred in a run. I have never raced by heart rate and always go by RPE, I guess I should start using my heart rate monitor, as I assume that with race day adrenaline you may feel like you are going slow but your heart rate could be sky high.

I may try pacing myself on the bike at TLD or IMUK by average speed (obviously IMUK will be a lot lower due to all the hills)

Youngun et al - what would be the best way to pace yourself on the bike , heart rate, rpe, average speed or ano? At Lanzarote I went by RPE and it worked very well but that could have just been by luck and I could easily blow-up at my next race. Or is it a combination of everything
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hdavies




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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2005 5:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lap Time Lap Time Power Avg of Lap Max Avg from Start
1. 1:37:15.0 1:37:15.0 5 254 454 254
2. 3:14:15.0 1:37:00.0 259 253 542 253
3. 4:54:07.9 1:39:52.9 31 219 382 242


This was my last IM bike split time from Almere. The last split power is a little out as there was lots of freewheeling into the finish.

My approach was to ride the 2nd lap faster than the 1st then just cruise the 3rd to eat and drink and stretch.

Off that i ran a 3.10 marathon.

I think you will know if you have gone too hard on the bike as you will start to feel it at around 80-90 miles and then your run will start slow.

It is more important to be able to finish the bike strong and then start the run steady, then not slow down. The problem i had was starting the run too fast, first half was 1.26 but then suffered, probably from the run pace rather than the bike pace.
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The Bionik Man




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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2005 6:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

very interesting. i have no idea how long the bike leg will take me all i know is it wont be 6 hours!!i am hoping for 8 or there abouts. i think when you are on the bike this long the hardest thing is being bored. i know that after i have rode 70+ i cant wait to get off.
the biggest battle is taking it easy for the first 40 miles, as the world and his wife pass me.
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younggun




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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2005 6:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TT wrote:
A good rule of thumb I've heard is a marathon time of 45mins slower than your flat-out marathon time. I'd be suprised if many age-groupers get within 10-20 mins of their PB (assuming that the PB is realistic). I've got close to this with a 3:47 split off a PB of 3 hours for the marathon.

If you can run a 3 hour marathon, I think you can do a 3:20 if you've prepared right and paced the bike right. Incidently, I didn't say "PB", I said "your fresh marathon on that day" - given the different preperation for Ironman that could be quite a bit slower.

You're right to say "I'd be suprised if many age-groupers get within 10-20 mins of their PB" - that's exactly what I'm saying, cause most ride pace "B" or "C" !

SJB - I don't have enough time to comment on pacing strategy right now - will post later.
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islifejustaplayground?




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PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2005 1:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You say in pace 'B' that it feels quite tough and most just imagine thats how an ironman should be.

Well, it might not be your optimal pace, but I personally think its better to race at this pace. Who would want to finish an Ironman not feeling as if they had worked hard or put in effort. There is nothing worse than finishing something and thinking you could of put more in or gone harder, which is what will inevitably happen if you follow race pace 'A' !
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AndyS




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PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2005 8:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm sure the marathon is plenty far enough to knock yourself out in!

I'd say there's nothing worse than starting a run knowing it's going to be hell for a very long time!
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younggun




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PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2005 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

islifejustaplayground? wrote:
Well, it might not be your optimal pace, but I personally think its better to race at this pace. Who would want to finish an Ironman not feeling as if they had worked hard or put in effort. There is nothing worse than finishing something and thinking you could of put more in or gone harder, which is what will inevitably happen if you follow race pace 'A' !

- an ironic statement given your username !!
That's fine if that's what you want (and as long as you know what you're missing). Agree with AndyS - you'll still suffer plenty. In fact you might suffer more - the marathon will be a more intense experience with plan "A".

On the day I do sub-9 with plan "A" I'll be the one deeply satisfied knowing I would have done 9:30 without using my grey matter. For me that's what it's all about, Ironman is so long and tough, it's not about who can suffer most, it's about using your grey matter to get best out of your body in training and during the race. Otherwise people would be attempting it with zero nutrition and on penny farthings and stuff.

All the best in your racing.
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redbiker




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PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2005 5:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to back younggun up here.

Plan 'A' - ie the optimal pace, doesn't suggest for a minute that you won't cross the finish line totally (and I mean totally) spent. This is the pacing approach I try to take in IM racing, and I normally can't walk properly for almost a week afterwards.

Your Ironman bike pacing should be judged with only one aim, to allow you to run the whole of the run at a reasonable pace. If you blow at 18 miles, it can take you 3 or 4 hours to walk those last 8 miles on your battered legs. If you blow lots sooner than that you can pretty much say goodbye to finishing under the cut off time. One of Mike's (IronmanUK's) favourite sayings is "Ironman is a thinking man's game". Any idiot can go hard on the bike, but the race doesn't finish at the end of the bike course. Those in the know would say that is has only just begun.
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ukironman




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PostPosted: Sat May 28, 2005 7:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

redbiker wrote:
I have to back younggun up here.

Plan 'A' - ie the optimal pace, doesn't suggest for a minute that you won't cross the finish line totally (and I mean totally) spent. This is the pacing approach I try to take in IM racing, and I normally can't walk properly for almost a week afterwards.

Your Ironman bike pacing should be judged with only one aim, to allow you to run the whole of the run at a reasonable pace. If you blow at 18 miles, it can take you 3 or 4 hours to walk those last 8 miles on your battered legs. If you blow lots sooner than that you can pretty much say goodbye to finishing under the cut off time. One of Mike's (IronmanUK's) favourite sayings is "Ironman is a thinking man's game". Any idiot can go hard on the bike, but the race doesn't finish at the end of the bike course. Those in the know would say that is has only just begun.


Spot on RB Exclamation The race "begins" at the 18 mile mark in the marathon - if as RB says, if you have got the legs. Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy
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