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Cycle Preperation For An Ironman

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Preparing for an Ironman usually takes months, and often mistakes of overtraining. injury, or burnout. will put an end to many dreams of crossing the finish line of the World's toughest one-day event. Before starting any build up for an Ironman, you need to be sure your bike set-up is correct. Your normal 40km time trial position for Olympic distance races probably isn't going to cut it for 180km. You need to find a balance between the most aerodynamic position but without sacrificing comfort.

There are many articles and tips on set-up, but ultimately it all comes down to personal trial and error. Start by getting the saddle height correct, the most successful formula I've used is your inseam length in cm, multiplied by .885. This is the measurement you'll use from the centre of your BB to the top of your saddle to establish your correct saddle height. Thereafter, you can start adjusting height of handlebars and length of aerobars. The further forward you like you saddle, the lower you'll be able to drop your bars and vise versa. Start experimenting with positions as early in your program as possible, with 6-8 weeks to go you don't want to still be looking for a comfortable position. The last 2 months is For big miles, not experimenting.

Now that you feel good on your bike, let's consider how you're going to get to feel good riding your bike for 180km. Following a structured program is the most common and successful way to achieve your goals. Some athletes just like to lit in whatever they can whenever they can, if they feel up to it. Sometimes it may work, but if it doesn't, there should be no reason to complain, and there is nothing to fall back on to monitor where things went wrong. I'll go through an example of a 3-week training-cycle for somebody who already has some sort of training under the belt, and they are ready to start the hard work required for Ironman.

WEEK

MON

TUE

WED

THUR

FRI

SAT

SUN

1

40 @60%

60 @70%

Off

40 @60%

60 @70%

100 @65%

Off

2

40 @60%

60 @70%

Off

40 @60%

60 @70%

120 @65%

Off

3

30 @80%

40 @ 60%

Off

30 @80%

40 @60%

80 @70%

Off

I personally like to follow a 2-week hard, I-week recovery cycle when preparing for an Ironman. Some follow a harder to handle 3 week hard, I week recovery, but I feel after the second hard week, to try maintain the same quality of training in the third brings along the risk of injury.

As you can see in the table above, the majority of your cycling is aerobically based, which is essentially where you'll spend 95% of your ironman ride. The importance of ironman cycle training is to build the biggest possible aerobic base, so that when you get off your bike, your body isn't drained of all its energy. By feeling fresh off the bike, you'll be in good shape to have a decent run.
In the recovery week, I like to do a little more intensity. A few interval sessions or time trials that get the heart rate into the anaerobic zone for periods of Sminutes to 20minutes will further help your body cope with the strenuous swim to bike transition. This is definitely where the heart rate is at its highest, and if your body is able to cope with this higher than normal intensity for 20 minutes, it gives you enough time to settle down after the swim and bring the heart rate back down.

For most people, weekends are for long rides. For some it's unrealistic to build up to race distance or even over-race distance. Obviously, completing a few 180km or longer bike rides is great for confidence and fitness, but as long as you get in at least the amount of time you expect to be on the bike, you should be confident that you'll make it. During the race it is far easier to go a bit faster than you have in training, after all, you've tapered and fuelled up for the big day, which you never do during training.

This brings me to my last topic, fuel. Without out it you'll only last a few hours at most. I think it is crucial to train with your race drink and gels. Too many people's races are interrupted by stomach problems during the run because the fuel they've been using on the bike is something their stomachs aren't used to. Using your race fuel during training for the last 4 weeks before the race will put you in the situation where race day is nothing new; it's exactly like every other training day.

Hopefully these tips help some of you to realize your dream of becoming an lronman. The most important piece of advice is to prepare well, have a plan, and go with it. But remember, even the best plans can go wrong in an Ironman, from technical problems, to weather conditions playing havoc with your race. Well-prepared athletes hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and expect the unexpected.

Annah Watkinson - Race Report IM Brazil 2017

After a great first year racing in the professional category in 2016, I was amped for the 2017 season. Feeling stronger and fitter and more in the "right head space" - I had done some great training over December spending many many many (and many more) hours on the bike - I loved it. My swim was starting to click, I was starting to understand the phrase "feel the water", and my running was strong

READ ONAnnah Watkinson - Race Report IM Brazil 2017
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