Part I of this blog was all about how it felt to participate in my first Half Ironman. This blog is more around the ‘why I did what I did’- particularly with respect to running. The other disciplines were never going to pose a major challenge but being able to train consistently enough and without injury to complete 21km (which I’d never done before) AFTER a swim and a ride, was always going to be the critical point of this endeavour.
Step 1 was to analyse the individual demands of the event- pretty straight forward in a triathlon.
- Never run on consecutive days. As in NEVER. Even if you think it’s a good idea- it’s not. I am getting older, we don’t recover as quickly when we get older and you need a minimum of 36-48hrs to recover, adapt and get stronger from each training session.
- Change the route and pace of each run. The body needs variety. Running at the same pace, on the same surface each run is a sure way to create overuse injuries.
- Vary footwear. I bought 4 pairs of running shoes; each very different to the last (New Balance, Hoka, Mizuno, Salomon), so that my body was stressed differently with each type of shoe, thereby reducing the risk of the same stress being applied to the same tissues every run.
- Perform a strength and conditioning session at least once a week. I needed to improve lower limb and pelvic/hip strength and resilience. Once a week is ok- 2 is much better.
- Improve my self management. Consistent treatment with the team at work but most importantly stretching, foam rolling and spiky balling at home at least 3 times a week and NEVER on consecutive days.
The 5 commandments really boil down to 2 key principals and are just variations on the theme.
- Allow adequate recovery time.
- The body CRAVES variation in stress- don’t do the same run, in the same shoes, at the same pace repeatedly. It means you load the same tissues, the same way with every step= recipe for disaster.
The training begins…
If anyone ever wants to look at my training, feel free to do so through Strava – pretty much everything was logged up there except for my swims as GPS data in the pool was terrible and told me I was swimming 4km when I was swimming 1.5km.
The general approach I took was the following:
- Swim twice a week.
- Ride 3 times a week.
- Run 3 times a week.
- I never increased overall training volumes by more than 10% each week (ie. if I trained for 10hrs on one week I would make sure I didn’t train more than 11hrs the following one). This is a way of controlling training load so you adapt to training rather than get injured or over train. I’d assert that most triathletes are overtrained and could more efficiently use their time.
- I periodised over a 4 week cycle. Eg. Week 1- 6hrs. Week 2- 6.5hrs. Week 3- 7hrs. Week 4- 5hrs (recovery week). This prevents overtraining and allows you to adapt and get stronger.
- I used an app called TrainerRoad for some structure- it was fine but next time I’d definitely use a coach (like Brendan Murray, Fabrizio Andreoni, Angus Harris). Personal coaching is always better as the coach is much more capable of assessing how you are travelling, modifying the program and tailoring it to your particular needs. It keeps you accountable as well!
- I never ran on consecutive days and I never ran off the bike. I assessed the risk and figured the risk of injury by running fatigued due to cycling beforehand, or not allowing enough rest between runs, was much greater than the risk I’d feel horrible in the Tri when I went from bike to run. If I was a serious triathlete I’d probably add some brick sessions (that’s what it is called when you run after riding) but not many as running fatigued causes poor form, reinforces poor habits and increases injury risk.
- And you simply HAVE to do STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING work to prepare your body to deal with the training stress. This is something that all of us should be doing all of the time- regardless of how experienced an athlete you are.
This was my single biggest lesson from the entire process.
Strength and conditioning is the single most important thing you can do if you want to perform any sport without injury and minimal discomfort.
If you don’t do it, you are setting yourself up for failure.
So, is a Half Ironman for everyone.
Our passion is to help people be active and to make Albury a healthier city. If you EVER want to chat, need advice or would like a strength and conditioning program come and see our great team at Osteohealth. We are all active and engaged in different sports. We know what it feels like to be you!