When Plan A is stupid – you need a new plan

To kick off this series of write ups, lets talk about my original taper plan – and move on to the revised taper plan.  The original taper for Ironman this year is the result of feeling flat last yearat both IMWI and IMFL. 

Prior to both races – particularly IMWI I had some incredible workouts.  One of which was a 112 mile ride that saw me smoke the first 90 minutes at 250 watts, than dial it back to finish with an average of 232 for the day, than running for 60 minutes without breaking a sweat – I backed that performance up again a few times over the next few weeks with ride like 228 watts, 230 watts – etc – all while running well off them.  My mean maximal power profile in WKO+ was an impressive sight.  If I didn’t drop a 5:10 in Madison, it was going to have to be truly horrendous conditions, but than nobody would be dropping a 5:10.

Race day came – and I struggled to put out my result of ~215 watts.  At the time I simply chalked it up to allergy medications making me dopey – yet when IMFL rolled around, I was in for another simliar performance.  I didn’t have any jaw dropping rides leading up, but all signs were pointing to good things.

Having foot surgery in December gave me a lot of time to think about my season and my taper.   I came to the conclusion that rather than allergies – which although they contributed to performance issues at IMWI – the likely culpret was simply allowing to much fitness to fade during taper.

Looking at some races, I noticed that in both 2008 and 2009 I had some fantastic results 10 days or so after a traincation.  So I forumlated a plan that would continue my training capped off with a solid IM paced effort a week before the race – and than a major drop taper the last week.  Perfection!  I was going to share the plan – workout, by workout – but as I started doing so – I realized I don’t want to look like that much of an idiot.

Needless to say – it would have left me fried. Basically a no taper – taper.  A 2 hour run 12 days out, a 4 hour ride 7 days out, 2×20′ 10 days out.  Basically 700 or so cycling TSS this week, 650 next week – with the only difference being cutting the “long” ride back an hour or so.  Finally dropping into an easy week.  The only thing going for this plan was that it had me at about +10 TSB for both cycling and running on race day.

As I alluded to on Monday – Pigman made me realize I appear to be showing all the signs of being awfully tired – and my training log confirmed that.  Hours, intensity, average (not great) power numbers on key workouts.

As a result – I dialed my plan back to what I’ve done in the past – which happens to be straight out of Going Long.  Two or three key workouts this week, two or three next – and than race.

So what does that mean in reality:

  • Monday (8/23): Off – it’s my birthday and I’ll pigout if I want to
  • Tuesday
    • AM: Long, but stupid easy swim – 8×300
    • PM: Embarrasingly easy bike + run
  • Wednesday
    • AM: Easyish OWS swim
    • PM: Long run – Run @ IM effort/pace until it feels that any further will be bad – 2 hours max
  • Thursday
    • AM: Easy 3k Swim
    • PM: Noodle on the Trainer for 60 minutes and watch TV, run after
  • Friday
    • AM: Sleep
    • PM: 48 mile bike + 45 minute run – do as BT #1 in Going Long – scratch it if it’s not happening
  • Saturday
    • Easy swim + noodle bike
  • Sunday
    • 4 hour bike + 60 minute run
  • Monday (8/30): Off
  • Tuesday
    • AM: Broken Ironman Swim for time
    • PM: 1:15 max E-Pace run
  • Wednesday
    • AM: Off
    • PM: See last tuesday PM
  • Thursday
    • BT #3 in going Long
  • Friday
    • Repeast Wednesday
  • Saturday
    • Repeat Last Saturday
  • Sunday
    • BT #4 (2 hour Bike + 30 minute run – IM effort+)

Race Week – Unchanged from what I’ve done all 7 times before.

Following the revised plan I show up on race day with a significantly higher cycling TSB +21, a bit higher running TSB +14, but a CTL that is a fair bit lower in both sports (as compared to Plan A)

I think that’s all I’m going to cover today.  Next time, I’ll dig into some of the evidence I’ve dug out of training logs that reinforce my decision to revise my taper.

That evidence will lead into an anlysis of some good races and some bad races – and what my current thinking is on why they turned out that way.

The Taper

My taper for Ironman Wisconsin has undergone some drastic revisions in the last 10 days.  All because of a little race called Pigman.  In terms of results, I’m pretty disappointed in the outcome.  However, in terms of learning things – I (thus far) am of the opinion that I learned a lot about my body in terms of athletic performance.

Time will tell if my taper revisions will pan out, I certainly hope they do.  For my own future reference and your enjoyment, I’m going to document my taper thoughts over the next two weeks.  I’ll try to cover:

  • The original plan and why I was going to do that
  • The revised plan and why. 
  • Past tapers and their results. 
  • Why I dislike tapering
  • An examination of some races over the last 3 seasons – and my thoughts on why they turned out the way they did – given current insights
  • An examination of race performances that I don’t understand why they turned out that way.
  • The results of the revision

I’ll try and cover those topics in that order, but they may shift/merge and even simply not get covered.  The results will be pretty evident to all sometime on 9/12!

The Bucket List

I’ve been nuturing this post for a while, after much delay here it is, my athletic bucket list.

  • Leadville Trail 100 MTB race
  • Western States Endurance Run
  • Swim/Bike/Run round trip to my parents house
  • Firehouse 50 (4 person team)
  • Ironman New Zealand (or really faraway place)

That’s all for now.

Some of them, I’m sure will happen and get crossed off – others – I dunno.

When to stop digging


I learned something yesterday.  A couple things actually.  One – I don’t have it figured out.  Two – you can’t expect to go fast when you make poor training choices the week of a race – particularly a HIM.  What is surprising to me – is that I thought I already knew both of those – so I’m a bit disappointed that I got to learn the lesson again.

The first lesson is pretty self explanatory.  The second lesson is a bit more long winded to explain.  After a lack luster performance for most of last season – I began training this year with the motivation to do hit a home run it at each race.

Saint Anthony’s – Check
Bong 30k – Check
High Cliff Half (Bike Relay) – 1/2 Check
Door County – CHECK
Tri-ing for Childrens – Check
Pigman – Swing and a Miss

So what happened?  Let’s start at the end, than jump to the beginning and work our way back to the end.

The gun went off.  I did my thing on the swim – ran to transition and hopped on the bike.  Got rolling – with the plan of riding for 10 to 15 minutes in the IM effort range; and than dialing it up to 250 to 260.  I shaked and baked that, and rolled up to HIM.  All was well, but I found myself having a difficult time keeping my power in that range – the RPE for it was a lot higher than I expected.  Initially, I attributed it to my PT hub – it was the first time I used it and maybe I didn’t get the manual zero right (post ride analysis shows this to NOT be the case, along with a check of the zero torque while riding).

As the ride progressed – my sustainable power kept trending downwards.  After a short coast downhill, a turn, or other rest “opportunity” – I’d be good for a bit – than it would drift back down.  The last 40 minutes of the ride or so I was barely able to sustain 200 watts.

I hit the run and between the heat, how I felt, and the potential outcome for the day – I didn’t have a lot.  By mile 3 I had decided I was going to run for 30 minutes and pull the plug.  30 minutes came, and the aid station had no shade – so I continued on.  By about 200 yards after that aid station I stopped, and pulled my chip off and headed back to the aid station.  10 feet later, my chip was back on and I was jogging in the correct direction.  When I got to the aid station at mile 5, saw they had shade – I was done.

I sat there for who knows how long until Mary went by – she convinced me to join her for the remainder of the run.

So what did my performance tell me?  I was not recovered.  My body was tired and not ready, willing or capable of doing a Half Ironman at Half Ironman.  I may have been fine for a sprint or olympic – or even a garden variety long ride – but I was not up to the task of riding or running at half ironman.

So am I just making excuses now?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  To save you all from the boring details – in the 14 days leading up to the race I executed nearly 1600 cycling TSS.  One of the workouts I did – received a comment of “I don’t think I could walk after that”.  Which was backed up with another stiff week of work. 

Last week, when I was doing my workouts I should have recognized the signs my body was sending me – and back off – instead I did 6×3′ (3′) @ 110% FTP on Thursday, which was preceded on Wednesday by Spinervals  Aero Base Builder I (basically 56 minutes @ HIM – broken up), which I really struggled to do well.

So enough of the whining and pity, and “I know what went wrong” talk.  I *think* I know why I didn’t have it on race day – but it could be anything.  Long story short I’m adjusting my final 3 weeks of training to include more rest.  My fitness is there buried in my body – recent workouts prove that.  There is not a lot I can do in the next three weeks to add to it. 

Just going to focus on 4 to 6 key workouts in the next 14 days with the rest being EASY filler – then race week.

The more important question for me to ponder after IMWI – is where do I go from here.  How do I make the jump to the next level?  I have had a powermeter since 2008 – and all three years I have essentially raced my races with the same power target(s).  The ony real improvement has come from Dexter – which allowed me to roll a 2:25 on sickly 224 watts yesterday – with Racine 2008 and 2009 being essentially the same time but @ 250ish watts.  Course differences – maybe – but he is damn fast for sure.

What do I need to do to get up to 350 watts or so @ FTP – to really kill it?  Can I get there, or am I tapped out in the 300 to 315 range that I am lingering in?  Do I really need to be peaking out my training @ 20 to 23 hours per week – or can I find a way to get fit and fast for my races in the 15 to 18 hour range – that I’ve been told some other local fast guys do?

Lots of things to think about, but I need to keep them in the freezer until after IMWI – as my focus needs to be there and not on the future.