Thursday, December 13, 2012

Analyzing Ironman Run Training Prep

(click on image to enlarge)

How much should you run in training for Ironman? It's a very common question, with the very common answer of, "Well, it depends." It depends on goals and run ability, and even lately I'm reminded that it depends on what you've done in the past. Experience is a great teacher, and the body tends to respond well to new stresses and fresh stimulus.

The athlete whose training is shown above I've worked with for 5 years, going from 11+ hour Ironman to the results you see, and this year we did something quite different, we raced 2 Ironman events in about 14 weeks, (Wisconsin and Cozumel). He podiumed at both events this year, and qualified for Kona, which leads me into planning for 2013.

When this athlete and I talked, we both agreed we would need a new approach if we want to accomplish getting on the podium in Kona. He believes he needs to run sub 3 hours off the bike in Kona to accomplish this goal. Well, after 5 years, we have tried a number of different approaches, and with 5 years of data we can look back and see the different approaches we've tried, what seems to have worked best, and how we might change it to accomplish running sub 3 off the bike. I had an idea in my mind of what we've actually done, and I have the Performance Management Charts, but I wanted to dive in a little deeper and examine the volume we've done in the past, and see the bigger picture.

I was able to go into TrainingPeaks and get all this run volume data in one chart, for the last 5 years. It is showing me as well that I have certain tendencies as a coach, and perhaps I need to try something different, or perhaps I am missing something which may be the breakthrough he is looking for.

I'm not going to share the plan for him based on the data in the chart, (that will be a work in progress anyway), but when I was putting this together, I found it interesting, and worth sharing. Many athletes read this blog, and there are certainly some great things to learn from the data within it, especially what type of run volume a perennial Ironman podium contender has done in his prep. I plan go back and do the same with some other metrics, might share those here as well.

Coach Vance


Thomas Gerlach said...

So help me understand what I am looking at. Does this show the average weekly mileage leading up to the event in that particular year? In the case of the two Ironman year in 2012, does that 39.34 equal the average mileage done per week from Ironman Wisconsin thru Coz?

No offense, but I would think Scott would benefit by knocking 6-8 mins off the swim, and another 10 mins off the bike. Likely, if he were just to knock the 6-8 mins off the swim, he would get the 10 mins free because he would probably be surrounded by better bikers.


Thomas Gerlach
Professional Triathlete

Jim Vance said...

Thomas, thanks for your comment. Scott has done some significant work to address the swim, and we haven't seen the improvements we'd like. We have also changed the strategy on that.

The bike is certainly something which we are also looking to improve, but we know if he can break 3 hours off the bike in Kona, he has a shot at the podium, even based on his current cycling and swim ability. If he runs 3:10-3:15, not so much.

The mileage numbers show the average miles per week for the 11 weeks preceeding race week. This is the "specificity window" for most athletes. The Coz and Wisc were almost 12 weeks apart, so it is pretty close to that.

I also wanted to see what his annual volume looked like and what I might change.