Each journey to the starting line of an Ironman, has been a special one for me, for various reasons. I have taken on 140.6 during all phases of my adult life. With a baby, a toddler, school aged kiddo, and now an adult one. I have taken it on during so many life phases that it is honestly too tiring to list them all.
At this distance I have qualified for Kona, I have DNF’d, gone sub 11, gone over 15. Had the best day, the worst day, and all the days in between. Each one has meant something special to me for a million different reasons.
I have a feeling that this one will be also.
I don’t think that preparing for and completing an Ironman makes anyone special, but I think these endeavors can become special to each one of us. I think what can make us special is what we do for one another, not by doing an Ironman. At the same time the experiences along the way are the things I want to really capture. Especially this time around.
Ironman is actually simple. We swim, we bike and we run 140.6 miles (however my next one is 144 miles). I have been part of that group who has felt it necessary to post every little detail on social media, needing that constant external validation cloaked in the idea that it was somehow inspiring to people to see that all day every day.
That’s the thing about social media and dopamine.
Through these past few years and what my family has endured I was able to really see it for what it is and understand how I can better use it to actually connect and aim to be a change agent for various things in this world. And with that realization and a change in how I use it, life got a lot more rich. I am so grateful I have been able to get away from all that!
But back to Ironman being simple. It really is. It requires a long runway, a support team, and patience. You have to take the time to build strength, resiliency, understanding how to fuel all of it and MOST important, how to recover from the preparation.
When I lost my Dad almost a year ago, I coped with it through movement. I spent the better part of the year accidentally building up one of my most solid aerobic bases. When fall came around and my IM Chattanooga deferral decision popped up, I remembered back to when I signed up for this next one. I was in the hospital with my Dad. He loved when I did Ironman. We would chat about training and strategery and so much more. When I realized I was sitting on top of such a good foundation, I decided to pull the trigger for 2023. I have a strong executive team not only supporting me, but traveling with me.
The past few months I have been training… or realized that I had BEEN training by the principles of dynamic loading, or readniess loading. In a very simple nutshell, training is planned by how you feel each day paired with HRV, how sleep was, etc. I have an amazing set of resources who are helping me navigate this (more on that later), but as I am approaching age 49 I am amazed at how I feel overall and how I am handling the training load. I am currently handling a weekly volume of 15-16 hours, and I am able to recover from it. More on this as we go, but I am hoping to share what this is all about and how it can be done in a very simple way! I am at my best when I am sharing what I learn. So here I am!
I have coached hundreds of athletes to Ironman finish lines, from beginners to professionals (I helped someone win once too), so my understanding of this distance is deep. At the same time I feel like there is more to learn and less we need to complicate it.
Ironman is about volume. Especially bike volume.
A few things to consider:
- If you feel that you are not running your best off the bike, before you increase your running volume or intensity, look to your bike volume, your swim volume, nutrition, THEN run.
- Bike volume is CRITICAL. I can’t emphasize this enough. If you are hitting up a spring Ironman, you needed to have started building that bike volume build two months ago. July? Now is a good time. Sept? Jan works. Where to begin? Right where you are. I like to hold a base of 8-10 cycling hours per week through a combination of road, gravel and indoor. I ride a lot indoor, even in the on season. I don’t have issues with doing that, I love it.
- Swimming. Get swimming. I like my athletes to swim at least 3 hours a week, 4 if we can get them to the pool. Let me know if you need some workouts, I have a million.
- Running: start smaller than you think. A solid Ironman run is built from bike and swim preparedness. Aim for durability and strength. We will cover more on this later!
I am excited to share this journey with you again. My intention is not to show how much I work out, we all work out a ton. It’s not to look special, Ironman does not make us special. My intention is to share my knowledge of what has worked, what hasn’t, the new things I am learning, and to treasure the special memories with special people I am excited to have along the way.
To summarize this month: get on your bike. Get a plan together. Drop me some questions in the comments, or via social media and I will be sure to address them next month!