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Preparing For Your First Ironman

By Tom Piszkin

This series was originally written in preparation for Iroman USA in Lake Pacid, NY 1999.
1: Calling All IronPeople 2: The Road To Lake Placid 3: Bring on the Power 4: Jump to Warp
5: Cruise Control 6: The Need for Speed 7: At the Crest 8: The Two Week Tweak

Bring on the Power
by Tom Piszkin

This is the third installment in a series of articles designed to get
you across the IronMan USA finish line in Lake Placid, New York this 
August 15th. 

Last month we set up a long run, base-building schedule to complement the
strength training and flexibility programs you started in January.
Before I get to the meat of this installment let me summarize where you
should be with your weekly workouts round about now--early March. 

One long run of 60-90 minutes in duration.
One long bike of 2-4 hours in duration.
Three sessions in the weight room pumping out 3 set of 15 reps.
Three+ dedicated 10-20 minute stretching or yoga-like sessions.
Two other 30-60 minute running workouts--faster, over varied terrain, fun.
One other 60 minute bike workout at 85% (AT) heart rate effort.
Two or three swim workouts, with at least one 60 minute continuous swim.
Time permitting, another bike workout, ideally a structured indoor effort.

Hopefully, the other elements of your life (family, job, etc.) are
holding  together. If not, it might be time to re-target. The demands of
Lake Placid are only going to escalate.

Are you with me? Ready to bring on the power? It's quite simple,
actually. It all happens in the weight room. Everything else stays the
same, or--in the case of your long workouts--follows the long term
progression table you've set up. 

You are ready for this phase shift once you're able to do three sets of
20 repetitions of all the major muscle exercises in your repetoire.
Don't skip ahead, you will only undermine the work you've done to date and
short-change yourself come August. The power phase only last for five
weeks, so it won't significantly impact the later stages of your
preparation if you delay its commencement.

Here's the deal. Add 50% to 100% more weight to the bar/machine and try
to pump out six reps. If you can only do four, drop some weight. If you
can do ten, add more weight. On day one just do one rep of each major
muscle exercise as you try to dial in the proper weight. At your next
strength session add a second set. It's okay if you can only get four 
reps as long as you're working to failure (and have a spotter on hand).
Over the next 13 sessions try to progress from two set of six to two
sets of eight to three sets of six to three sets of eight...all with the
same weight you determined on day one. You'll be amazed at your
progress, especially if you are diligent about replenishing with the
right protein nutrition after each workout. [The most effective (and
economical) product I've used is made by MLO. Their HardBody powder is
available in Chocolate, Vanilla and Orange flavors.]

Despite the lack of an aerobic dimension, this power phase shift levies
a heavy tax on your system. Therefore, it is important to NOT push the 
other components of your program, other than the aforementioned glacial
increases in your long runs and rides. As far as sequencing advice goes,
I'd recommend not lifting on your long days, but rather on your shorter
run/bike days. Lift AFTER these workouts. You'll be sufficiently warmed
up and able to avoid the dangers associated with higher fatigue
levels of the reverse order--it's better to bonk in the gym than out on
the road. One exception to note: an easy swim feels real great after
a power lifting session!

There you have it. Devote these next 5-6 weeks to packing more power in
your pistons. You've got the stroke, now it's time to increase the bore!
Next month we'll talk about taking your improved power curve to the
streets.