This year my third (and final, for the time being) ironman distance triathlon is the Outlaw in Nottingham on July 1st. I’m in week 17 of a 26 week programme, and working hard.
Training’s going well. The only blip was a horrid virus that had me off training for the best part of a week in February, but conveniently that was a knock back week so I wasn’t too worried.
At the moment we’re having an amazing few days of sunny, mild March weather which makes training all the more pleasant (except swimming inside, but we can’t have it all!). I’m feeling relatively strong – perhaps the effects of the Lanzarote training camp are kicking in – and, even more crucial, I’m feeling positive mentally and am enjoying the training. I know this can change when I go through the odd week or two when I’m really tired, so I’m relishing it while I can. (Obviously I try to avoid being really tired – you can’t do good quality training if you’re too knackered.)
The challenge at the moment is fitting it all in. The massage clinic is busy busy busy as spring marathons approach and runners are in their heaviest mileage period – but it’s a nice problem to have. I’m trying to fit in an extra swim each week (was told off by the coaches in Lanzarote…) and, the biggest challenge of all, a gym session.
For over two years now I’ve done a weekly pilates session which has been instrumental, I think, to my ability to train consistently and pretty much injury-free. In addition, for the last 18 months I’ve been helping to instruct a weekly strength and conditioning class for fellow WADAC members, so that’s given me a second hour of core and run-focussed strength work. But I haven’t done much actual gym/weights stuff for years. So, wanting to do something extra for this year’s ironman training, triathlon-specific weight training entered my life back in September last year.
I’m a big believer in periodisation, soI did two or three sessions a week from September to December – before ironman training proper started – building up gradually to the point where I was maxing out for two sets of six reps. The idea was that that would give me more muscle to train with when Outlaw training. When ironman training started in January I cut it down to two sessions a week, but now it’s down to one.
The books (mainly anything by Joe Friel and/or Gordo Byrne) say this is fine. I understand that younger, particularly male, athletes can get away with little or no weight training once they’ve built up during the off season. But we older and female athletes need to keep it up the whole time to maintain the benefits (we don’t have enough testosterone!).
At first I worried about when to do a weights session during an already packed week. I was worried about my legs being too wrecked to run or bike usefully afterwards – or vice versa. If I went to the gym on an easy training/recovery day, surely that turned the easy day into a hard training day with no recovery? But in the end I stopped worrying and just got on with it. I think it’s all working out. But I suppose I won’t really know until 1st July, will I?