Monday, September 15, 2014

The Making of a Killer Ironman Marathon split – Coaches ramblings

I have a number of Ironmen in various pre Ironman specific development stages, based on their upcoming aims and training history for Melbourne 2015. One of those IM’ers has a solid IM marathon run track record, with a 3:13hr and 3:18hr respectively at Melbourne 2012/13 and a 3:08hr and change at Hawaii 2012.

I have been set the challenge of dropping the run time to around 3:00hrs for Melbourne 2015. Based on his swim and bike ability there will be a couple of ways to tackle this coaching challenge.

Firstly, he is an OK swimmer, round the hour, and he is a strong biker. Looking holistically as one must being a Triathlon coach, a key aim will be to improve his swimming, so he comes out of the water nearer to the front of the field. Looking to drop his swim time to closer to 55-57mins, this will mainly achieved through efficiency gains through stroke correction in the pool.

If I can see these gains over the coming 6months, we should be sitting pretty coming onto the bike. He can ride 4:50hrs till the cows come home, so the trade-off is do I try to develop more bike power and aim for a 4:43-4:45hr bike or is it better to maintain bike speed so we can emphasise the run leg this far out from the race.

The answer is YES. Set up the event with an improved swim, maintain his race position on the bike, and purely via fitness gains from the completion of another Ironman training template will see him ride an ‘easier’ 4:50hrs. This will see him off the bike and then on way to a hopefully much improved marathon.  IM Tip – Ride the IM bike leg ‘fast/easy’ when it comes to race pacing.

OK, how do we run a 3:00hr marathon?

This has to be the hardest thing to achieve for the vast majority of athletes and coaches who guide them. It’s not so hard, and we see it over and over, looking awesome coming into T2, and bombing on the marathon to finish way back.

Our subject here has a big engine and a lot of staying power. Overconcentration on endurance development and strength, something that he has nearly maxed out on would be a mistake. I have set a path of two 6 to 7week blocks; one will be leading up to his Challenge Shepparton race where I will concentrate on developing half marathon run speed.
The other block will go from mid November to mid January where 10k run speed will be the aim of his quality run sessions. Of course this will be underpinned by endurance maintenance longer easier runs, but also FAST long runs at upper tempo intensity.

The balancing act will be because I am adding 2-3 extra quality runs into each of his 3week training blocks from now, there must be a trade- off. This may involve reduction in specific intensity of 1 or 2 bike sessions in this block, but I am confident that he will maintain his bike power, and the added fitness and conditioning gains from his run training will transfer to the bike.

At any rate, once I take him into the race phase end of January, there will be rebalancing of quality training between bike and run. This should have him tip top come March to unleash a killer run split.

We’ll see ;)

Coach Foz

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