Can you complete/compete at the 140.6 distance w/ only 10 hrs of training per week?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

IML 2011 Race Report

When tackling an Ironman you always come out of it with many lessons learned. Last Sunday provided me with many minutes to contimplate why I was out there, what I did right in preparing, what I could have done better, and time to simply reflect.

Before going into the reflective elements I'll give a super quick overview of the day.

I found it very amusing that within the first 20 strokes of the swim my goggles began to leak (see Aug 23 post). Yep, I bought brand new goggles, tested them in the practice swim, and they worked perfectly. So, throughout this swim I was forced to stop, empty them, and then get back at it. Kind of frustrating, but IM is full of them. One must leave the pouty pants at home when racing at this distance. Get over it and get on with it.

Take Home: Find someone of equal abilities and let them do most of the work. I worked off some fella for most of the swim, which allowed me to maintain a stroke rate that felt like 10 to 15 strokes/25 yds and a perceived effort of 5 (1 to 10 scale). Be corteous though and don't touch their feet or you'll likely get your teeth knocked out or goggles kicked off.

Things quickly went down hill on the Felt. Not sure what to say here. I played it smart and held watts that I knew were appropriate, but the legs were simply not there. What shocked me most was that my power numbers were 7% less then in 2009. It was somewhat demoralizing seeing the downward trending from mile 20 to mile 112.

Take Home: Consistency is key. In order to deliver on the bike (and run) one must be consistent in their training. I tried to be consistent in my training, but was not. In order to complete or compete using the IM in 10 approach you need to be consistent. I averaged 1 to 2 rides per week for this IM and placed other priorities ahead of my training. No regrets. Just speaking the truth.

Off the bike I felt great. Mechanically I felt sound and pace was appropriate. I was optimistic coming off the bridge and heading out of town. However, post the 5 mile mark things began to deteriorate. Fast paced 20 second aid station water breaks quickly turned out to full blown conversations with volunteers. No joke. At one point I made myself at home under one tent like I had made it home from college for Thanksgiving dinner. The volunteers must have thought I was a bit off when I helped myself to their table. "What ya got in here?" I asked. I have never run with a 50 pound backpack until last Sunday.

Take Home: Listen to the Holy Spirit. My most memorable moment at IML this year was at an aid station. This young girl was in a wheelchair handing out water. Her father was there and her siblings were too. They all had name tags on. I think her name was Cyndi. She couldn't talk. I was almost brought to tears when I saw her. Her father was so proud of her - I could see it in his smile. I made sure to take a cup of water from her. As I left her I felt a tug to spend more time with her. No joke, I wanted to get on one knee and kiss her cheek. Not sure what came over me. I promised myself I'd do so when I saw her on the final loop. You guessed it, she was not there when I returned. This was my biggest regret/disappointment of IML 2011.

Below are some other tid bits that I thought I'd share.

#1 - 6 hrs is enough.
As I looked back on my training for IML 2011 it became very clear to me that I had accumulated an all time low training volume for this event. Anne and I both accumulated similar training volumes per life and the challenges it presented. Although the race was not a PR by any stretch of the imagination I believe one can tackle an IM in much less training then advertised. I plan to compete another day using 10 hrs vs. 6 ;)

#2 - One must be able to adjust on the fly.
Back in February I had grand plans of Kona. My default is to think big. That is how I am wired. I still clung to this plan, but was prepared to shift accordingly. I felt Kona slip through my fingers like sand last Sunday. As I saw power output dropping and perceived effort increasing I knew I had to adjust expecations quickly. By doing so I was able to fully embrace the gift/joy of moving ones body for 10+ hours.

#3 - Bring ear plugs.
Most people are terrified in the moments leading up to the start of an IM. You can see it in their faces. I am totally confused, therefore, why onlookers feel it is appropriate/necessary to create more commotion. If I could have jumped the fence and broken the 3 foot long horn I would have. Bring ear plugs if you want to get in a zone in the moments prior to the start.

#4 - Strength rules.
If you really want to 'keep it together' at an Ironman make strength training a top priority. I know that I could have done more, but the little that I did do kept me in the game. Bill Scibetta ( worked wonders with me in this department and I recommend him highly to all.

#5 - My athletes.
I think of my athletes all the time. Many of them have said things to me that have stuck. As I am sure I have said things to them that have stuck and helped them work through hard times. I so wanted to walk more then run, but I opted to stay the course and move. There was no room for a DNF. I pressed on because I know my athletes would press on. My athletes finish what they start.

That sums it up. I could go on and on, but would rather not. Thank you to those who prayed and tracked Anne and I.

Continue to think big and be different,
Coach L

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Pre-Race Meal

Thanks for the questions. Mark, below you will find a video that summarizes what I do prior to race day for the Iron distance. As I note, please practice, practice, and practice again what you plan on using for race day.

Fighting the Blahs

For some, the weight of an event like an Ironman can get a bit heavy on their mind. As a result of this weight they can become doubtful, which can then create a downward spiral of thinking. This is very common for the first time triathlete to the veteran of the sport. I am a bit blah-like right now in fact.

My solution to fighting the blahs and the doubt are quite simple. Those who have followed this blog from the beginning know I love Jesus. I'll get to the point here for I need to get to the IML open water practice swim. I rely fully on His strength and not 'mine', which is fleeting and insufficient for the task on Sunday.

Two songs that have touched me during this season and for IML are below. The links to these songs capture the energy and passion I hope to exude on Sunday.

Kristian Stanfill - "Always"

Casting Crowns - "Glorious Day (Living He Loved Me)"

As I sit here at the Marriot this morning and absorb these lyrics and the Word I can't help but feel like a million bucks. The blah turns into joy. The joy then helps refine the focus. The Lord can always help press the 'reset button' when clouds roll in.

How cool is this. Here is the verse for this particular day. The timing is perfect:

Psalm 63:7-8

New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)

7 Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
8 My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.

I hope you all can/will 'experience' this same power that I know I will be pulling from on Sunday.

Own the day friends!
Coach L

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My IM Approach

Recently, my good man Nick White asked me to share my 'pre-race' plan per Ironman Louisville. You ask and you shall receive brother.

I'll try to keep this pretty concise and to the point.

First, I think it is absolutely ESSENTIAL to envision greatness. In my mind I go over time and time again how it will look like when entering the finish chute. I get to the point of seeing the finishing time that I am desiring up over my head. I go as far as seeing my face with a victorious smile to hands clinched and pointing to Him above. I also try to envision perfect running form as I work towards the 9th Street Live finish area. I always tell my athletes that one MUST envision themselves crossing the finish line before they embark on taking on an Ironman. If you can't do that I'd caution you in taking one on. Own the Ironman event well before the starting gun goes off!

Second, I love to dissect IM events (any event) with a clear understanding of my limits; using science and data revealed in training. In other words, I will not jump onto my Felt and push 350 watts (~28 MPH) for the first 25 miles. Moreover, I will not take off from the dock at IML and push 1:05/100s. Lastly, I will not open up at 5:45 minute miles out of T2. All of these examples do not fit with IM racing for this cat. Latta Triathlon, yes. IML, no. This approach would make for one long day.

This is a perfect segue to how I will try to dissect IML this coming weekend (bike specifically). Most recently I tested myself using both gas exchange and lactate analysis on my Felt. During this test I poked and prodded myself to validate blood lactate clearance. I love data that means something to me and my peeps.

Per the data gathered I plan on riding at 225 to 250 watts and/or 145 bpm. My Lactate Balance Point (LBP - point at which your body is able to efficiently metabolize lactate within your bloodstream) was found to be 280 watts or 173 bpm. Knowing where my legs are from a muscular endurance stand point I will not come close to holding 280 watts for 5 hrs.

To further validate my race strategy I conducted an hour test at my upper limit of 250 watts. It is important to note that this method could be done for 2 to 3 hours as well. Samples could be extracted/taken every 15 to 20 minutes vs. every 5 as noted below. For the data lover here is how it played out:

36 min total elapsed time / 140 bpm / 2.9 mmol of lactate
42 min /142 / 3.3
48 min / 143 / 2.7
54 min / 142 / 2.7
60 min / 143 / 2.4

From this 60 min I feel confident that targeting an upper limit of 250 watts will allow me to process external/internal fuel sources efficiently and have legs to run with. It is important to note that I have spent plenty of hours studying these numbers to further validate my proposed strategy.

Thirdly, the small things make a significant difference at IM events. Below are the top items I make sure to hone in on prior to race day:

(1) New goggles - Hands down, the cheapest 'race day insurance' you can buy. Foggy or leaky goggles can set a very bad tone for the day. Spend 20 or so bucks on some new gogs and test em' during the pre-race swim. Don't play around with a pair of so-so goggles.

(2) Bring your food - If possible, bring tried and true food to your IM event. There is no room for playing around here friends. Anne prepares the food for the 3 or so days before departing and we pack it all within a plug in refrigerator that can then be brought into the hotel room.

(3) Whole Foods Market ( - Slight contradiction here, but Anne and I are huge fans of Whole Foods grocery. We always seek out these stores when going to events. This place is an outstanding source for clean, nutrient dense, organic fare. The best salad bar around is in Orlando. Check it out for the Orlando 70.3 event.

(4) Sleep - Ideally, I try to get about 8 hours of sleep most nights of the week leading up to an IM. Luke did not get the memo on this last night. 4 to 5 hours of sleep was the reality last night. If your IM in on Saturday try to make Thursday your 8 hr night. Most struggle to sleep the night before an IM.

(5) Perspective - I sense a tremendous amount of self imposed stress/tension at IM events. Do what you can to keep a level head from the moment you enter the IM arena; host hotel, transition area, etc. I encourage folks to ponder how blessed they are to even consider such a challenge.

Nick, this is not a thorough break down of all aspects of IML, but hope it sheds some light on things.

Train smart and with a purpose,
Coach L

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Ironman Mind

It is truly amazing how powerful the mind can be. One minute the glass is half full and then the next it is half empty. Back and forth it can go.

I am now about 1 week out from Ironman Louisville and I would be willing to bet there are several athletes out there wondering if they have 'done enough' for race day. Most do not want to admit it, but that tends to be the driving force behind each pedal stroke, swim stroke, and stride taken.

For some they will put in 40 to 60 hour weeks for this race. Some will do 20 hours. For this cat, I hit 6 hours/week from April 4 to July 30. Being a numbers person here are some relevant stats:

Swim = 17.68 hours
Bike = 51.32 hours
Run = 25.01 hours
Strength = 8.65 hours

Total = 102.66 hours / 17 weeks = 6.05 hours/week

Longest workout per mode:

Swim = 1 hr 12 min or 5200 yards (Nomad Aquatics & Fitness)
Bike = 3 hrs 40 min or 73 miles (CompuTrainer)
Run = 2 hrs 7 min or 18 miles (Highland Creek Parkway)

Longest week of training = 9 hours 43 minutes
Shortest week of training = 1 hour 46 minutes

This will be the third IM done using the "Ironman in 10" approach. Below is a roll down of those events including average training load and results:

IML 2009 = 7:54 hours/week = 10:09 finish
IMF 2010 = 7:35 hours/week = 9:49 finish
IML 2011 = 6:01 hours/week = TBD

I share these numbers simply to provide some insight on how this approach has served me.

Our minds have been trained to believe that more is better. I have been known to buy a dozen donuts and then eat em' up in about the time it takes me to run a 5K. Okay, not a good example. Most IM athletes will consider five 100 mile bike rides to be better then one. Most would lean toward 20 hours of training vs. 10 hours. I get this full well.

My point is simple. I could have trained 20 hrs/week. In fact, I could have trained 30. However, being where I am currently in life that does not fit. There is absolutely nothing wrong with 20, 30, 40 hrs of training per week. Heck, I have had the privilege to coach Meredith Dolhare who has consumed an Ironman Triplet (3 IMs in 3 weeks) this year, has Kona in her sights, and has the UK Ultraman to tackle as well in 2011 (for more on Mer check out her blog:

I get volume. I have consumed plenty of it in my 2o years of training and racing.

However, at this stage of my life I am able to tackle the bare minimum in terms of training. The "Ironman Mind" can lead you down many roads. One of those roads is the road of 'doubt'. I'll be the first to admit that I too wonder if I have done enough. Most would when eyeing 6 hrs/week of training. I know this though. If I had tried to tackle more I would have seen a whole lot less of Anne, Luke, and Grace. I would have been stretched thin in many departments and would not have been the person I wanted to be.

Two Sundays from now I will be able to test my methods yet again. I look forward to seeing where my mind will wonder. I can promise you that regardless of how the day goes down I will continue to see the glass as half full.

Train smart and think big,
Coach L

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fall into August

Anyone having a hard time with this heat and humidity? Anyone? Or am I the lone ranger here?

I'd be willing to bet that I am not the only one who is finding it cosniderably harder to find 'fast and responsive legs' right now. For the past 2 months I have found my stride rate to be sloth-like, my pacing at least 30 sec to 1 min slower at all intensity ranges, and my overall confidence in the run to be waivering.

If this does not apply to you stop reading and get back out in the sun my friend. For those who can relate I want to encourage you to bring some "Fall into August" to your regimen.

Today marked my last 'long' day for IML 2011; 3 hr on the CompuTrainer (1st disk Real Course Video) w/ a very mediocore 30 min run. It was during this run that I decided to draw the line in the sand.

As I enter into the taper phase of IML I am eager to feel some speed. I want my March/April legs back. Ever since the Amazon moved into Charlotte I have missed the leg turnover and sensory elements I once considered status quo.

So, for the next two to three weeks I will venture into the air conditioned confines of Nomad and work "the belt"; Treadmill. Yes, I know that this will not promote heat adaption one iota, but I am certain of several things:

(1) I/we will be running at least 1:00 to 2:00 minutes faster per mile at a MUCH lower HR and perceived effort then if we were outdoors. Example: 7:30/min mile outdoors @ 158 bpm vs. 6:30/min mile indoors @ 146 bpm.

(2) I/we will be able to focus on a stride rate that you have not been able to match outdoors. Example: 86 outdoors vs. 95 indoors.

(3) Most importantly, I/you will come out of these sessions feeling the speed that you have not owned outdoors for some time. This will bolster your confidence in a big way.

The more I have been in this game the more I have come to realize how important it is to have a balanced sense of confidence when going into battle. If you do not feel strong in training it is unlikely you will go into race day feeling mentally strong either. The mental game is big and can often times be the deciding X factor between you and your competition. They may be a stronger athlete physically, but you will trump em' if you have it going on upstairs.

So, I hope you too will consider treating yourself to just one run indoors per week. Use this time to reflect on how it once felt to run in 60 to 75 degree weather w/ little to no humidity. Take this and bring it outdoors. Remember how good you felt indoors when the going gets tough.

By bringing some "Fall into August" you will show that Amazon what you are made of.

Train smart,
Coach L

Monday, August 1, 2011


When was the last time you experienced goosebumps? The kind of GPs that present themselves when you see something spectacular unfold. This weekend Anne and I had the opportunity to experience cable TV (we are the only house in Highland Creek without cable - likely) and watch some incredible swimming.

Enter 19 year old Sun Yang of China in the 1500 m Freestyle event at the 2011 FINA World Championships. It was incredible to watch this guy work the water. His efficiency was unmatched and his closing 100 m was absolutley spectacular.

Most find the 100 to 200 m events to create the most excitement, but the last 50 to 100 meters were simply magical. Take a look at this footage. I love the Aussie accent here and his raw enthusiasm!

I just watched this short clip and got the chillies once again.

I certainly hope you got some GPs as a result of watching this giant fly through the water.

Do something today that makes your hair stand on end, your heart to race, and makes you jump around like a 3 year old on Christmas morning!

Taste adreneline friends,
Coach L