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The Award Winning Thread - Sub 10 IM Plan
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Mr ME




Joined: 25 Aug 2012
Posts: 86
Location: Gateshead

PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2014 7:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Along with the sub 3 marathon thread this thread has been a massive source of help and advice for me over the last year or so. Iíd had a sub 3 marathon and a sub 10 Ironman as my goal in 2013. In hindsight this was perhaps slightly premature for me. I missed both targets going 3.00.28 at VLM and then 10.18 at the (insanely hot) Outlaw later that summer. The 29 seconds that separated me from a sub 3 marathon plagued me far more than missing sub 10 for ironman by 18 mins. I was reasonably pleased with my performance at the Outlaw and any disappointment was offset by the surprise of coming 2nd in my AG (35-39).
This year I managed to crack both targets going 2.51 at the Manchester Marathon back in April and then going 9.45 at Ironman Mallorca in September. Iím very aware that when it comes to this forum I do a lot of taking but not a lot of giving back, so whilst I donít consider myself an expert by any stretch I thought it was about time I contributed some thoughts about what I learned from the experience and the things that made the difference for me.
My life has been insanely busy over the last year. My second child was born in September 2013 and work has been very intense. I got back into training mid December 2013 and between then and July 2014 I was averaging around 10 hrs per week. The vast majority of this was done very early in the mornings and very late at night to accommodate work, child care and family life. I knew that doing this meant that recovery was always going to be an issue and during this time I was (unfortunately) averaging about 5 hrs of broken sleep per night. Despite this, my motivation was high and I can count on the fingers of 1 hand the number of planned sessions I have missed in the last 10 months. So although rest was massively compromised my consistency was close to 100%. Particularly as Iíve not been able to do massive volume this has been important.
Iíve not got a glittering athletic history. I certainly did sports at school when I was younger but nothing spectacular. I had a typical 15 year layoff between 15 and 30 when drinking and smoking were the order of the day. I got back into Ďexerciseí at around 28 but didnít do anything in terms of training till about 32. Iíve always been very aware of my lack of natural talent but Iíve sometimes been able to compensate for this with motivation. Iíve worked hard towards these goals and for the untalented but motivated they are definitely attainable. Others have often gasped at the hours I put in - I know itís nothing significant compared to some of you guys on here - but for most of the year I train for fewer hours than most people spend watching TV.
Even before the training started a lot of work needed doing in terms of setting my life up to accommodate all of this Ė first and formostly was constant communication and negotiation with my wife. Sheíd much rather I went to bed than go out training late at night but overall prefers the version of me who is training for something than the version of me who is not training. This year we managed to get the balance about right.
My injury history is not good. After many years of occasional jogging I targeted marathons in my early 30ís with too much zeal and ended up with 7 stress fractures (or bone injuries) in the course of 5 years. I knew I had to sort this out to achieve either the sub 3 or sub 10 goal. This in itself took a long time and a lot of trial and error. Key to this was restricting my running to 3x per week (1 long run, 1 hill interval session on grass and 1 medium long run) Iíve tried to run off road as much as possible.
Good nutrition was also important. My dietís not perfect by any means but we cook everything from scratch and I cut out anything processed. On top of this I found it helpful (and cheaper) to get off the gels and sports drink and for much of the season relied on dates, soreen loaf and water. I switched to the gels and sports drink briefly before racing to get my stomach used to it. Iím lucky in that Iíve got something of an Iron stomach and can hold down pretty much anything. I also ditched the commercial recovery drinks and finished up long hard session with a smoothie of milk, flax seed, nesquick, banana and honey Ė seemed to do the trick.
I did the usual thing of taking a recovery week every 4th week and made sure that on those weeks I got a massage. I was also taking vitamin D everyday over autumn, winter and spring and do an hrs core and strength session once per week year round. I found that doing all of this meant Iíve stayed injury free for nearly 2 years and in the run up to Ironman Mallorca I had been running well and consistently for 10 months in a row. I think I managed to get into something of a virtuous circle. The more consistently I was able to run without getting injured the more my muscular endurance developed which meant in turn that my bones had to cope with less stress and strain and injury was therefore less of a risk.
I know that thereís a lot of talk about how you shouldnít attempt a marathon and Ironman PB in the same season. However for me I think that Manchester (early April) and Mallorca (late September) were sufficiently spaced to allow me to do this. Even if it wasnít ideal from a theoretical point of view, running 2.51 did wonders for my confidence when approaching the task of cracking sub 10.
In terms of training for the sub 3 marathon I found that the thing that made the biggest difference was running a weekly (increasingly long) medium long run at Marathon pace. I know that it was this that allowed me to run a 2 min negative split in Manchester. After this I got to thinking about whether or not a similar approach could work on the bike in preparation for Ironman. This wasnít going to be possible for me for the majority of the year because of time pressures but I knew that there would be a 5 week window in July and August when things would be different. My work patterns was going to be changing and in the transition period I was going to have some very welcome time off and would be working only 3 days a week. I knew if I planned it right I could get my usual weekend long ride in and also an additional hard 3 hr ride in during the week. This allowed me to push my average training hours up to about 17 hrs a week in this 5 week period as well as getting better quality sleep. Knowing about this in advance was partly what prompted me to sign up for Mallorca Ė it was well placed in relation to these 5 weeks. Iím sure that this temporary increase in training hours made a huge difference. Iím unlikely to ever get that same opportunity in the future and so it has crossed my mind that my form going into Ironman Mallorca may have marked my lifetime peak in terms of fitness. Only time will tell I guess.
I got a stages power meter from the states early in 2014. Iím only really just beginning to understand its potential as a training tool but certainly riding to power targets in the last 12 week before the taper was hugely beneficial. A word of warning for the uninitiated Ė itís not all about FTP. I managed to get my FTP up to 340w which I was delighted with. Iíd hoped to ride Ironman at about 74% of FTP which would have been 251w. I knew going into Mallorca that I wasnít going to get anywhere near that. Looking back at my NP for longer rides Iíd been managing anywhere in-between 220w early in the year and getting up to 245w later in the summer. On the day I aimed to hit 240w but even this turned out to be too ambitious. I rode most of the ride at 238w but started to fade badly in the last 15 miles of the bike and my NP came down to 232w which is about 68%FTP.
The powermeter has been incredibly useful but next year Iíll be concentrating more on doing my longer rides at a higher power than I will be on getting my FTP up.
Another point regarding the bike. I read somewhere recently that good Ironman performances rarely arise out of Ďholding back on the bikeí. The article argued that most of the top athletes wouldnít be able to ride a 112 mile TT much quicker than their ironman ride (2 or 3% at most). The argument continued saying that the trick is not so much holding back on the bike but the capacity to run well and efficiently on tired legs. I think I just about managed to get away with this. Certainly I donít feel I held much back on the bike and wouldnít have been able to ride it much quicker as a TT. Itís just finding the endurance to sustain my pace at the end of the marathon that I need to work on. Perhaps you lot have some other ideas about this.
In terms of bike work during the winter, almost all of what I did was on the turbo Ė high intensity stuff, short hard intervals, 2x20mins etc. This was really just to keep the bike legs ticking over and to supplement the marathon training. Post Manchester I focused a lot more on the bike. I was doing a weekly hill session (x4 repeats of a hill it takes me 10 mins to climb at max effort), I began increasing the 2x 20 mins to 3x20 mins and then 4x20 mins, the typical long weekend ride (I usually rode for 4 Ė 4.40hrs and never rode over 5hrs), a high cadence turbo session and as the summer approached I started trying to get that second medium long ride in also.
Time constraints meant that I didnít often get to run off the bike. Ideally Iíd like to do more of that in the future but for me to make this worthwhile the run off the bike needs to be 10 miles or more in order to come close to getting used to the kind of feeling that you experience in the second half of an Ironman marathon.
Whether itís technically the right thing to do or not I did all of my long runs at faster than IM pace, these tended to be runs that averaged about 7.10 min miling.
In comparison to my biking and running my swimming is woeful. I vowed to do something about this this year and for most of the year I have managed to get in 2 or 3 sessions per week, 1 long set, 1 short hard set and one technique based session. In hindsight I really regret the time I spent in the pool. Iíve had some returns on this time but they have been minimal. I swam 1.11 at the Outlaw last year, the swim was measured slightly long that year. In Mallorca I swam 1.02 but this swim seemed short. Yard for yard Iíd be surprised if my Ironman swim was even 2 min quicker this year than it was the previous year. Iíll continue with the technique stuff this winter but I wonít be putting in nearly as much time at the pool this coming year, I think that time could be much better spent on the bikeÖor with the familyÖor in bed!
Come race day in Mallorca I was feeling good. For me it was a blessing that it was a non wetsuit swim but my experience in the water was not a good one. Never before have I experienced such chaos and mayhem. I think this could have been largely avoided and one thing I need to get better at is swimming tactically and navigating to my advantage. I do tend to stand on the start line with a plan but that seems to go out the window the moment the gun goes off and after that Iím just trying to survive. I follow the pack rather than swimming my own race and as a result end up getting pummelled left right and centre. Just sorting this out could save me huge amounts of time and energy. When I got in for the second lap my arms felt as though theyíd been ripped from their sockets and for a short time I wasnít sure Iíd manage to complete the swim at all. All of this as well as a jelly fish sting to the back of the knee meant that I started the bike stressed, worn out and full of adrenalin. I think these were the factors which meant I wasnít able to hold, my watts on the bike the way I had done countless times before in training Ė more time wasted.
Iíve tried to get better and more economical with my transitions but looking at the guys who finished near the top of my AG in Mallorca Iím still giving away at least 2 mins in transition. Something else to work on.
Finally the run. I always find it very difficult to judge pace at the beginning of an Ironman run. Despite knowing I was going too fast a pace to sustain I struggled to slow down in the first hour and went through half way in 1.32. I knew I couldnít sustain this and sure enough the wheels started coming off in the second half. I managed to keep running (but began walking the aid stations) but faded to a 3.18 marathon which was about 10 mins slower than I thought I might have been capable of on a perfect day. It was the familiar feeling of deep fatigue and the desire to stop towards the end of the marathon which I think I need to be better prepared for next time. Iím not quite sure how Iím, going to do this but I read something recently about the idea that all swim sessions should aim for a negative split. Iím beginning to wonder if all my training (swim bike and run) should aim for something similar Ė this is something Iím going to think more about over the next year.
Iíve been very motivated to achieve these goals and Iím delighted to have ticked them off in convincing fashion. Looking back on the things that made the difference for me, I think one of the main things was reading this thread start to finish about 18 months ago. As I went along I copied all the things which seemed interesting and helpful and compiled that into my own document. This then helped to shape most of my training blocks. I had very few original ideas, almost everything came from you guys on this thread and then finding ways to incorporate those ideas into my life. Hope some of these thoughts might be helpful for some of you lot in achieving your goals. Thanks.
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Tri Curious




Joined: 08 Jul 2006
Posts: 280
Location: Cheshire

PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2014 11:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nowhere near this standard of performance but that was a bloody good read and thanks for taking the time to write it.

Cheers
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YKK




Joined: 23 Oct 2011
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Location: North&West london

PostPosted: Fri Oct 17, 2014 2:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

well done Mr ME, good to see this achievable on limited training time.


Actually, I was on the same trajectory as you, I was hoping for a sub 10:30 at Outlaw last year and then a sub 10 attempt this year, but ended up frazzled and ran a 4:50 marathon. Was still hoping for sub 10 this year there, but just could not get any mojo on the bike so hardly rode at all this year, however focused on nailing a good run, which I did to go sub 10:15.

Currently I am not doing an IM next year, but the following year I hope to get a bike time near to yours, which will make the difference, perhaps even at IM Mallorca.
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Wheezy




Joined: 10 Oct 2007
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 8:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great read. Thanks Smile
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tivmeistergeneral




Joined: 18 Sep 2006
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Location: Sweating my t1ts off in Honkers

PostPosted: Mon Oct 20, 2014 2:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice work. Props for keeping your Mojo up with all of the other "distractions" going around you. A couple of things that popped into my head as I was reading your write-up...

Mr ME wrote:

On the day I aimed to hit 240w but even this turned out to be too ambitious. I rode most of the ride at 238w but started to fade badly in the last 15 miles of the bike and my NP came down to 232w which is about 68%FTP.
The powermeter has been incredibly useful but next year Iíll be concentrating more on doing my longer rides at a higher power than I will be on getting my FTP up.


What I found helped in terms of sustaining power through the entire bike leg was to train riding 4 x 40mins at IM power+10%, with 10 mins recoveries at IMpower-10% on similar terrain to the target race. So for your 240W, 265W with 216W recoveries. You also mention NP... personally I think NP isn't a great measure of a good IM bike leg, rather I prefer Avg Power and Variability Index (VI). Barcelona is a flat course, VI should be low. Smashing the hills at the start of the lap will affect your ability to hold power at the end... even hitting 300W on those hills is too much.

Have you read this article? http://home.trainingpeaks.com/blog/article/using-a-power-meter-for-triathlon-pacing

Quote:
2.51 at the Manchester Marathon back in April ... faded to a 3.18 marathon which was about 10 mins slower than I thought I might have been capable of on a perfect day.


They (however "they" are) do say that a good IM marathon time to aim for is your straight marathon time + 30 mins, so according to that rule of thumb I wouldn't be too disappointed. Maybe consider walking through the aid stations in the first half, which might prevent some of the fade towards the back end?
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Mr ME




Joined: 25 Aug 2012
Posts: 86
Location: Gateshead

PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2014 5:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Many thanks for the thoughts and feedback chaps, much appreciated.
Matthew.
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Heisenberg




Joined: 01 Sep 2013
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 23, 2014 8:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great read Mr Me, thats cut and paste straight into a document of my own!
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explorerJC




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PostPosted: Fri Oct 24, 2014 6:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

great read Mr ME
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SidSnot




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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 11:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Having read through this entire award winning thread, thought I would give it a bump.

Aiming for sub-10 at Outlaw this year, 10:54 last year; 52, 5:23, 4:26 so no prizes for guessing where I need to improve. Run training was severely impacted by calf injury last year, much more consistent(and longer) so far this year.

Anyone else aiming for sub-10 in '17?
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Jorgan




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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 1:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mr ME wrote:
10.18 at the (insanely hot) Outlaw later that summer.


Oh yes, the infamous Outlaw 2013, it was like high 20s right Laughing

SidSnot wrote:
Anyone else aiming for sub-10 in '17?


Nah, I've wisely given-up on such things; I'm also down for Outlaw this year, not done it before. If I can manage to pace the early part of the run properly this year (and do the training), a low 10 will suffice. After all, my seemingly infamous 44 sec miss was 6 years ago now; now I'm 43 with twice as many kids Smile
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