Training for IM Part 5 - Tips for the Experienced Novice

I give this advice constantly -- thought that I would post here. I'll put it in my own words to complete the feedback loop.


1) Generally keep the intensity moderate. Seldom exceed the intensity I'll actually use at IMC

Know that my limiters are:

  1. Cycling endurance -- deal with through volume
  2. Recovery
  3. IM specific ME overall -- deal with through cycling steady state
  4. IM specific ME flats -- deal with through big gear work
  5. Consistency -- recover and moderate my mind
2). Lots and lots and lots and lots of cycling.

3) Get the big gear workouts done.

4) Still do the weights when I can, when I can't, cycling is more important.

5) Structuring the long rides- I'm thinking of something like 3 hours moderate, then a 30-60 minute big gear session, maybe 30-45 minutes moderate followed by 30-60 minutes of steady/upper steady levels, then maybe 30 minutes moderate followed by a 5k transition run. Given the profile of IMC, that probably is pretty consistent with much of the race itself. I'll also do another big gear session on a shorter bike. The long ride, the shorter big gear session and my longer run are probably the key workouts of my week.

IMC Specific Long Ride...

Main Sets in Order
40 mins steady
Long climb, steady
40 mins steady
Big gear session

I think you will have two more "just ride" long rides to do. Then you repeat the above three times. By the time you are done, it will be time for your first race sim workout. Should workout quite well.

5.5 hours as 1/3rd easy, 1/3rd steady (goal IM effort), 1/3rd slightly over steady -- odds are you will over-estimate your steady ability. Two weeks later repeat with a more moderate definition of steady (most likely -- just repeat if you got it right!). Second time use 60/60/60 (kilometers) instead of time.

Have an honest assessment of what you can tolerate on the bike and be able to run WELL for the ENTIRE marathon.

Relieve yourself of time goals for IM -- we have zero idea what will happen when you go that long. Enjoy the experience, focus on the correct effort level and let the time take care of itself.

6) Aim to get 3-4 runs a week done, probably at my paces totally 50-55k. Only some short periods above my steady pace- strides, some downhill pieces. The running is to be done only to the point that it is safe for me to do so - any sign of flare up of injury, out the window it goes for a bit.

At least half of your volume should be easy pace or slower. Your most challenging run should be your long run -- challenge yourself with steady, not pace. Run in the hills through the week ending August 8th then flat.

I'd aim for 4 runs -- even short ones off the bike are beneficial to your overall durability.

When you have access to a gym -- there is a huge difference between 1 session a week and nothing.

Core -- 2x per week, use my Bobby McGee core from my tips page.

I think you've got it right and we are heading in the right direction. IM is really simple -- we don't need all the fancy workouts -- volume, frequency, strength and steady work. The toughest part is showing up day after day!

The quality of our race day experience is directly linked to the consistency of our preparation.

The preparation that we do this year, sets the bar for the nature of the training that we can tolerate next year. A fast IM is a long term campaign. It takes many, many years to get "good" at ultradistance racing (or anything in life).

Remember to have fun and not to take it too seriously -- we are (after all) simply swim/bike/running around in circles!

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A quick question on the long rides- I'm slightly confused. Are your suggestions:

Ride number

1- 6 hours easy
2- 6 hours easy
3,4, 5- warmup maybe an hour, then 40 minutes steady, long climb (say 40 minutes if I can find one, otherwise simulate climbing with bigger gears, watt output similar to climbing power output for 40 minutes), another 40 minutes steady, then a big gear set then a cool down, or are you talking about the 40 minute steady,long climb,40 steady, big gear repeated 3 times in one ride?

w/u one hour
40 min steady / 20 min easy or just under steady
long climb steady / rest of hour easy or just under steady
40 min steady / 20 min easy or just under steady
5x8 min big gear on 2 min RI c/d

No need to repeat, once through the main sets is enough. I think if you look at your schedule, you'll be able to fit this workout in 3x as well as two race sim rides that are two weeks apart -- the second ride landing no closer than 2 wks before your race.