Highway to Hell

Several weeks ago, an email chain I had with a friend devolved into suggestions for writings.  I started thinking about some of the suggestions and realized that they were actually extremely good suggestions.  Some of them supported my belief in the open sharing of knowledge, while others would send me down the road to an extremely fruitfull thought process and self-inventory.

The suggestion that drew me the strongest was “…about what it takes for you, Scott Bowe, to win IM of be first amateur. I’m curious to know what the macrocycle of your year would be likely — how to address limiters (how many weeks dedicated to a limiter, when to address one limiter, can and should one address two limiters at the same time)….”.  It drew to me because I realized that I have not sat down and really revisited a long[er] term plan for myself since prior to qualifying for Hawaii.  I went through 2008 and 2009 just doing, without a lot of high level direction.  While that isn’t necessarily bad, it’s probably not optimum. As a result, I sat down and took some time (4 weeks actual)  to think about this, and document my thoughts to create a conceptual plan.

So what’s the goal?  There isn’t a lot of beating around the bush when it comes to that – First Amateur – is pretty easy to quantify.  You either beat all comers, or you don’t.  However – I’ve also been reading a lot of Taoist material lately – and that sort of a goal doesn’t exactly fit well with the thought process I am trying to cultivate within myself.  Fortunately enough, not long ago I quantified that goal in a way that can let me judge myself a success without necessarily accomplishing such a hard and fast goal – and more importantly focuses the measures and attention internally rather than externally.  To sum up the linked post: 1:28 / 100 LCM; 250 watts average Bike Split; Run 3:12 – I’ve gone ahead and made a few revisions to that for me:

  • Swim – 52 minutes (allows to have the swim + transition under 60 minutes)
  • Bike: 250 watts
  • Run: 3:05

I adjusted the run downwards – because my early 3:12 I just felt was to “easy” of a target; perhaps not, but at this point it’s just a number.  To flesh out these requirements a bit more, it translates into a bike FTP of around 350 watts, and a running VDOT of about 64.  The swim is just a matter of training correctly (for me at least).

So those are the requirements, FTP = 350 watts, VDOT 64.  Done, time to go train right?  Not exactly.  At it’s peak I estimate that my FTP has been around 320 watts and my VDOT at 58/59 – which leads me a bit short.  Honestly that’s a fair bit short in both places, prior to this year I would have simply plowed ahead and tried to build both up at the same time.  However, experiencing a large layoff from all three sports and witnessing the return to fitness and form – I feel entirely comfortable breaking this into focuses.  I mean really it’s unavoidable, trying to go from a VDOT of 45 (starting point after surgery) to 64 while trying to build my FTP to 10% above life best – is a bit unrealistic.

So 2010 (the remainder of), I intend to focus on my bike.  The goal is to build my FTP to as high as possible – with the target being 350.  This year running will be the weak link, and I’m simply going to focus on running sensibly and letting the fitness return at a natural pace – primarily so that I can focus on cycling.  The intention is to do 1 quality bike workout mid-week – that includes 40-60 minutes of FTP work and a weekend ride that includes several sets of shorter FTP intervals, or several longer intervals around HIM effort.  With the meaty portions of the remaining rides of the week of SST effort

The winter of 2011 will be focused on running and cycling maintenance.  In a large turn of opinion for me, once Tri season is done this year, I will largely neglect my swimming to focus on improving my weak links.  In the past I was adamantly against anything but balanced training, but after this winter I think it’s the smart thing to do.  During this period – hopefully around 16 weeks in length – I’m going to do my best to run like a runner, and do only a few cycling workouts to maintain my cycling as much as possible.  Swimming will probably only be a recovery tool.  I don’t know what will happen exactly, but 60-80+ miles per week seems what might be appropriate (but that’s a lot of running), but a VDOT of 64 is hella fast and the only way to close the gap is to suck it up and run.  I will also have to start incorporating strides into my running to help buid my economy.  I’ll sort of launch this runner version of me by doing the Milwaukee Lakefront marathon and using that as a point of feedback of my true running form – although the true run focus won’t begin until late November.  I’m on the fence about when, where and if tempo running has a place in this high volume period of running.  Likely it won’t as it will be struggle enough to run 10 hours a week – I’ll likely save the tempo running for later in the year of 2011.

I’d like to try and return to structured “triathlon” training sometime in Mid-march (about the time I did this year actually) – and take a stab at the Triple-T again and hit it under more optimum conditions than this year.  This 8 or 9 week period will likely be focused on the skill set required to excel at a hilly Olympic distance race, stretching into a hilly half iron distance.

After the Triple-T, which is about 16 weeks out from IMWI 2011, I’ll need to do a brief inventory of my status and turn to a tried and true structure of preparation for an Ironman.

So in less than 1,000 words, I’ve laid out my plan to go real-fast.  Will it work?  Maybe.  Will I successfully execute it?  I hope so.  However, if I fail in executing it, there’s no chance it will work.  I’ve previously laid out some plans like this before and have failed in their execution – perhaps the plans were to complicated, my motivation/focus was lacking, or maybe I wasn’t ready to do something of that nature yet.  That said – I’ve also laid out plans like this and succeeded.  The next 18 months will be interesting to watch if I’m capable of holding to the plan or not and what results it will yield.

As an addendum to this, there are two additional facets I need to address that I think will be crucial to my success of following this path.  The first is nutrition – in the last month I’ve really made an effort to shift my eating to less processed foods, cutting things like High Fructose Corn Syrup Out – basically more natural foods.  I have actually given up S’mores pop tarts.  I don’t expect or intend to go down that route completely in the near future, but I’m taking steps to head in that direction, and allowing myself occasional indulgences (the Double Down is good, but not *that* good).  This shift, should help with my body composition, energy level, health, recovery, body weight, and just about everything.

The second facet that I feel is crucial is thought process – as I mentioned earlier I’ve been reading a bit of eastern philosophy and to me it makes sense and works.  I think shifting my focus onto the “correct” things is another positive force that will help drive me down the path I want to follow.  If you are looking for a good book to read – checking “Thinking Body, Dancing Mind”  Essentially, the important part of the next 18 months from a triathlon perspective is to remain true to myself and my path and my expectations – and let the results flow from that.  If I can accomplish *that* the result will be sweet no matter what the results say on paper.

2 Comments

  1. Hey Scott, nice entry. I also struggle with what goal I should shoot for during my next IM. Constant improvement is what is necessary for me to remain motivated to train for IM, so improvement and not results is what I’ve set as my goal. Of course, being first amateur or even winning my AG would be nice.

    I’ve got a couple other thoughts and questions. First, what’s your typical speed at 250 W? Having ridden 5:07 at IMLou on 201 W, math predicts I’d ride about 4:45 if I could average 250 W. That’d be one of the fastest bike splits in the Pro ranks at IMLou (at least last year), and I’m not especially small at 160 lbs or so. Might you have some free speed there? (Or maybe I just need to re-calibrate my power meter.)

    Second, regarding running, are you planning on doing any training to target durability? What I mean by durability is the ability to run an entire IM marathon, whatever specific qualities that may entail. Being able to cruise through the halfway point in 1:25 is one thing, but being able to run every step of the race may require some training besides focusing just on speed and economy. Even if I’m jogging along at 8:00/mile from mile 20 or so onward (and most FOPers would indeed consider that a jog), I’m still only going to lose at most 6 minutes to someone that can run the last 10k at 7:00/mile…and there are almost no AGers that can finish an IM at 7:00/mile. I don’t know your prior race results, but if you haven’t run every or nearly every step of an IM, that may be something you want to consider. (I hope I don’t sound like a know-it-all — that’s not my intent. I like reading other fast amateurs’ blogs because I feel like I don’t know much! I’m mostly curious about what training methods are effective, especially over the long term.)

    Also, out of curiosity, it sounds like you do a lot of “intensity” (in quotes because the term is so subjective). How many training hours do you typically do the weeks leading up to an IM? Do you do much zone 1 or 2 work? I can only speak on an my own N=1 basis here, but I’ve had decent success with a lot of aerobic work and without a lot of intensity. Again, just curious…

    BTW, nice race at the Triple-T. That’s a great event.

  2. Hi

    Comments from the MOP crowd (ie. those who can’t do teach!!).

    Reading between the lines we now have a goal (AG win) that is course specific (AG win at WI?). Plot thickens and my earlier position with you is stronger; you will win this (if you do) by swimming and riding away from the field.

    your #’s are a good/accurate guideline. Some specific (and humble) suggestions:

    1) focus on the specific course vs the #’s.
    2) reverse engineer what it would take to be #1 on that coursse.
    3) make a list of the AG winners on that course (if WI then I believe you can count them on one hand)
    4) take all those winners best swim and bike time. Consider your best swim time (if you went all out)(hint: it’s already better than any) and match the best bike time of any of them (sub 5 by a little) (and T1 and T2 time). Decide whether you have to do 3:05 run to win. I suspect (when you look at their run times) that 3:15 will get it done (only 4 minutes off your best time).
    5) train to be the Tom Evans of AGer’s; consider the mental aspect on other AG’ers when you start the run 16-20 minutes up (ie. take your own advice about not being “balanced”).
    6) Don’t put your run training in a position to become injured. Ride more(this will also raise run fitness)
    7) Be prepared to “go or blow” like AZ link
    8) consider your best result on that course; what was the gap to top AG’er and could you close it with a day best AG ride.

    Sorry bored tonite…………

    PS you don’t have to win all three legs to win the race………

    good luck

Comments are closed.