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

The Need for Speed
by Tom Piszkin

If you've been following this column, you know it's the sixth
installment in a series charting your journey to the USA Ironman in Lake
Placid, New York this August 15th.

In previous chapters we've shined light on flexibility, endurance
strength conditioning, aerobic base building, raw power development,
power conversion through plyometrics, and steady-state practice sessions.

Needless to say, your training pot is simmering. It's now time to bring
all these elements to a boil with some speed training. This is a
critical phase; you want to turn up the heat just enough to thicken the mix, 
yet not so much as to scorch the pot, or evaporate all of its contents.

What's a chef to do? The general guidelines are straightforward: increase 
intensity while reducing volume. Specifically, I suggest the following
program from June 1st through mid-July:

1. Cut back your weight training to one session a week...consisting of
   just one set of 20 reps of the exercises you started with in January.
2. Continue with your progressively longer weekly over-distance run, bike 
   and swim workouts. If you can manage to get these in on a Saturday
   and Sunday, then only swim easily on Monday.
3. Following this (or another) day off perform a run or bike workout
   at 85% HR for no more than 60 minutes of running or 2 hours of
   cycling. Increase the durations by 5 and 10 minutes/week. This will 
   put you at 90 minutes of running and 3 hours of cycling by mid-July. 
   Feel free to flirt with a 90% HR in July. Finish each of these sessions 
   with an honest stretching routine and, if possible, an ice whirlpool 
   treatment of your lower extremities. Yowee!
4. Follow these two speed days with swimming and/or your weight training
   workout, complemented with an extensive stretching session.

Here's what your next six weeks might look like...
Saturday: Long run at 70% HR, building to 3-3.5 hours by mid-July
Sunday: Long bike at 70% HR, building to 120 miles by mid-July 
Monday: Easy swim, stretch
Tuesday: Fast run at 85-90% HR starting at 60 minutes, building to 90.
Wednesday: Weight training, long swim, stretch
Thursday: Fast bike at 85-90% HR starting at 2 hours, building to 3.
Friday: Moderate/fast swim, stretch

What could be easier? Seriously, this is the phase you don't want to
overcook. Be sure to get plenty of rest, massage and hydration. You're
approaching the summit of your journey, the air is thin but the
anticipated view is compelling! Stay focused.

Next month we'll fine tune your peak and then look out over the alpine 
meadow in front of you.