Training Analysis

After St. George 70.3 I came to the conclusion that I perform best after training very hard for a moderate period of time, and then doing a fairly short taper into a race. My best performance to date was Muskoka 70.3. In the three weeks leading into the taper for this race I swam 63750m, biked 1284.4k and ran 219.5k. This is the second largest volume block I’ve done. I did more volume when training for Ironman Louisville in 2010, but the intensity was far greater in this block. Per week I was averaging: 21250m swimming, 428.13k biking and 73.16k of running. The volume in the week leading into Muskoka (the taper) looked like this: 14250m swimming, 199.26k biking and 41.09k of running. In other words, it was 50-60% of what I had been doing in the “high volume” weeks leading into the race. I would call this a fairly short and light taper. When I got into the race I felt very good. I had a mantra in place to keep myself relaxed in the swim, and because of this I was able to catch some feet that would pull me along to a lifetime best swim. On the bike I held a steady power output. It felt rather easy, but I was getting time splits along the way and knew I was taking back time from the leader, so I remained at this output. I remember thinking to myself around kilometer 85 that I felt like I hadn’t really done anything yet. When I got off the bike I felt very fresh and was able to run strong the entire way. The whole day I was very “in the zone,” had a good rhythm and lots of “pop” in my legs.

Going into Texas 70.3 I decided I would emulate this same pattern. In the three weeks leading into the race I swam 47539m, biked 1325.68k and ran 290.89k. Per week that is: 15846m swimming, 441.89k biking and 96.96k of running. The week leading into the race looked like this: 13625m swimming, 109.77k biking and 33.93k of running. In other words, my swim volume was about the same as previous weeks, my bike volume was 25% of what it was in previous weeks, and my run volume was about 35% of what it had been. In that race, I swam decently well considering it was quite wavy. I biked decently well. I lost 9 minutes and 24 seconds to flats (solely non-moving time) which would have given me an approximate bike split of 2:04:12 i.e. among the fastest. I then had the day’s fastest run split. In other words, from a performance standpoint, I think without the flats, this race would have been very comparable to Muskoka.

What’s odd is that going into St. George I decided to change a system that appeared to be working. I’m not really sure why I did this. I was definitely depleted after Texas, but I have trained through severe depletion in the past and emerged alright. Perhaps it was insecurity about not being able to compete with the world’s best. Regardless, in the three weeks leading into St. George I swam 58524m, biked 967.95k and ran 207.07k. Per week that is: 19508m swimming, 322.65k biking and 69.02k running. In the week leading into the race I swam 11404m, biked 94.29k and ran 39.04k. It may not seem like a big difference, but I could feel the difference greatly on race day.

Here is everything I just said, organized into chart form:

Race: 3 weeks in total: Avg./wk of 3 weeks: Week into race:
Muskoka Swim: 63750m

Bike: 1284.4k

Run: 219.5k

Swim: 21250m


Run: 73.16

Swim: 14250

Bike: 199.26

Run 41.09

Texas Swim: 47539m

Bike: 1325.68k

Run: 290.89k

Swim: 15846m

Bike: 441.89k

Run: 96.96k

Swim: 13625m

Bike: 109.77k

Run: 33.93k

St. George Swim: 58524m

Bike: 967.95k

Run: 207.07k

Swim: 19508m

Bike: 322.65k

Run: 69.02k

Swim: 11404m

Bike: 94.29k

Run: 39.04k

If I were to rank each discipline of the race based on feel, across all three races, I would say my swim in Muskoka felt the best, my bike in Muskoka and Texas felt very similar (hard to get a good idea though due to stopping for flats, but I would say I biked harder in Texas than in Muskoka) and my run in Texas felt the best. You will notice that my highest mileage swimming occurred before Muskoka, my highest mileage biking occurred before Texas and my highest mileage running occurred before Texas as well. Additionally, you will also see, my lightest taper occurred before Muskoka, and my heaviest taper occurred before St. George. As well, my lowest volume running and biking in the three weeks leading into a race also occurred before St. George.

In St. George I felt very flat, particularly on the bike. My bike split was WAY OFF the lead bikers and was SIGNIFICANTLY off the “main pack” of cyclists. This was the most difficult aspect of St. George to swallow. Up until that point I had been getting signals that I was a strong biker, but then to get out biked by the “main pack” by 3 minutes, was devastating. I don’t doubt that my biking still needs work, but after a more thorough analysis of my training logs I now know that the reduced mileage, and heavy taper had to have played some role in the poor performance.

After this analysis I decided to go back to the system that had been working i.e. high mileage into a light taper. After St. George I took two days very easy. On Wednesday May 7th I started a block of training that I intended on being 19 days long i.e. ending on Sunday May 25th. This would then allow me to do a light six day taper into my next race: Raleigh 70.3.

In those 19 days I swam 41670m, biked 1590.02k and ran 358.37k. In other words, my swim mileage is about the same as when I went into Texas, my bike mileage is about 270k higher than when I went into Texas, and my run mileage is about 60k higher than when I went into Texas, but in two less days (19 vs. 21). This is what I was talking about in my previous post about taking a long time to figure things out in long course triathlon. High mileage worked well going into Muskoka and Texas, so now I am trying a bit higher mileage than when I went into those races, to see what happens. Additionally, this will also likely be the lightest taper I have ever done going into a race. I intend on the mileage of the week going into Raleigh 70.3 to be approximately: 15000m swimming, 270k biking and 65k running.

Raleigh will be the true indicator of how this particular set up works. But, I have done a few races in the meantime and they have gone pretty well.  Those races will be the subject of my next post.

In closing, I would like to point out that if there is one thing you take away from this post it is that logging data is very important. I have logged every workout I have done since November 5th 2009. This allows me to conduct the analysis I did above and draw conclusions about what works and what doesn’t. Thanks for reading and following!