4 Tactics To Prepare for Half Marathon and Half Ironman Racing, While Staying Healthy and Enjoying Pain Free Running


It’s been 22 weeks since my return to running (chart above)

I’ll walk you through my data and give you some benchmarks to consider with regard to your own training.


My 7-week average is 23km per week (chart below)



I’m tolerating 3 hours per day on my loading days and managed a broken Half Ironman over a weekend in November.



The two areas where I have been most conservative:

  1. Intensity – nearly everything is easy/steady (30-60 beats below max heart rate). I wasn’t tolerating my sprints/bounding so dropped them.
  2. Duration – my longest main set is 12km/7.5M

Right now, the longest I could see myself racing is ~5 miles / ~8 km

I’m not going to race => why take a risk of screwing up my progression.

The “just stay healthy” plan has been working.


Four things have kept me healthy

1// No back-to-back runs

  • With the exception of my Broken Half Ironman Workout (Sat AM / Sun PM runs), I have avoided running on back to back days
  • I let soreness be my guide, if I need more recovery then I take it

++

2// Eccentric (Pre)Hab

The program I put together for my posterior chain was fun to do.

Unfortunately, it didn’t deliver the results I wanted – a pain free increase in run load.

So I changed the plan.

Simple plan – get eccentric load into the areas troubling me

  • Two Exercises (Prone Leg Curl, Seated Calf Raise)
  • Two Sets of 10 reps per side, each exercise
  • The moment pattern is “Up with Two, Down with One”
  • Full range of motion


  • When I go to the pool (non-running day) I do the exercises.
  • It takes 12 minutes, done 2-3x per week.
  • Relief happened from the FIRST session.
  • It’s not necessary to progress the weight.

++

3// Habit of Daily Mobility

Since my first run, I have scored 150/154 (days) with my mobility habit.

It works.

It is simple.



++

4// Build Stamina on the Bike

Since July, I’ve been riding ~8 hours per week



With my 5:2 loading, the 8 hours breaks down as 4 rides a week of 3/2/2/1 hours duration.

Cycling has benefits for runners:

  • I can train duration without impact stress – faster recovery from ‘long’ sessions
  • I have an “easy” zone on the bike – I’m only starting to develop this ability with my running
  • I can keep training when I’m recovering from a run session

Extend duration, low-end intensity control and greater total endurance load

What does this mean in practice?

  • Since July, I have completed more than 50 bike workouts >=2 hours
  • Compared to my longest running main set => 60 minutes, done once

I can prepare myself for a race that’s much longer than my current run workouts.

++

Linked Resources

  1. A Return to Pain-Free Running
  2. The Serious Athlete’s Guide To Building A Training Week
  3. Bomber Calves & Hamstring Protocol
  4. A Swedish Approach to Athletic Excellence
  5. Supplemental Videos on My YouTube Channel
  6. I create my charts and track load over at Training Peaks

Sunday Summary 27 November 2022

Top Five Threads

  1. How to write a book – rough draft is toughest part
  2. Best Starter Bike Thread
  3. Video on Intensity Zones & Domains
  4. When metrics decline, Trust The Process
  5. Active Readiness (with Brad & original thread & metrics video)

Endurance Training Tips

High Performance Habits

Sunday Summary 16 October 2022

Top Threads

  1. Fast After 50 – Ironman
  2. Team “Feel The Byrn” in Sweden next June
  3. How to review an Ironman Bike File
  4. How to Qualify for Kona
  5. How to review an Ironman – more next Tuesday on Twitter

Endurance Sport Tips

High Performance Habits

Sunday Summary 21 August 2022

Top Threads

  1. Developing Teen Running Talent
    1. Workout idea from Rich
  2. Fitness enabling a feeling of freedom
  3. Burning lactate strips in an attempt to prove I can go harder
  4. Johan’s advice to stay focused on what makes you better
  5. A benefit of developing low-end aerobic range

Workouts & Working Out

High-Performance Habits

Sunday Summary 10 July 2022

Top Threads

  1. Keeping Small Promises is my foundation for excellence
  2. Raising Young Olympians talking LTAD with Johan
  3. Training Through Fatigue can limit LT gains
  4. Book Review: Practice of Groundedness by Brad Stulberg
  5. Easy Days on the Swedish 5:2

Workouts & Working Out

High-Performance Habits

Q2 2022 Top Twitter Threads by Engagement

  1. Building the capacity for One Big Slow Day
  2. Review of Longevity… Simplified
  3. Training Zone Lingo
  4. Effective Nutrition
  5. Remove One Thing
  6. Before Swimming Harder Try This
  7. Getting Mentors Interested 
  8. My Home Gym
  9. Late-Season Peaking & The Need To Do
  10. Zone 2 is Light
  11. Training Nutrition Thread
  12. Where to Spend
  13. Sub-max Benchmarking with Power

Sunday Summary 19 June 2022

Top Five Threads

  1. The 1st step is EASY
  2. Bike Session (30/30s and Power Singles)
  3. When you feel you are behind financially
  4. Give your Self something useful to Prove Right
  5. I’m back on Strava // Post_COVID week summary

High Performance Habits

Workouts & Working Out

A Swedish Approach to Athletic Excellence

Link to YouTube

I’ll link my prior writing on NVDP at the end of this piece.

NVDP had a childhood dream of being a great athlete, I had a childhood experience of being a horrible athlete.

Proving right, proving wrong…

Childhood experiences can be powerful motivators!

What’s YOUR motivation? Why start this journey?

My answer “I was born to train.”

Tapping into core motivation enables sustained work.


  • As a coach…
  • As a parent…
  • As a child athlete…
  • As a collegiate athlete…
  • As a world junior champion…

What’s it going to take?

Nils & Johan explain the performance puzzle:

  • The Project: a multiyear journey to the top
  • The Work: a LONG apprenticeship
  • The Block: a multi-month period of increasingly specific focus
  • The Session: one session, repeated, involving the specific requirements of the goal

Project : Work : Block : Session

Nils & Johan speak clearly about these four aspects. Can you?

In order to bring laser focus to the Block and the Session, one needs both: (a) a deep reservoir of aerobic fitness; and (b) plenty of mojo.

Keep the Work phase enjoyable and don’t sweat the pace/power. Base training is about kilojoules. Kilojoules by any means necessary.

The Block phase lasts ~17 weeks – NVDP uses Swedish 5:2 loading implying (at most) 85 days “on” and (at least) 34 days “off”.

Across each Olympic Cycle, there are “85” days that are special. The other days are foundational & recovery.

Intense internal focus => at times, never for long.


Even for Superman, life mostly happens outside the arena

Some nuggets in the podcast:

Threshold Block:

  • early-week longer intervals set the work-rate across the week – recovery is added to preserve a good enough work rate – when work rate cannot be hit, recover
  • seek to gather TIME “fast enough” rather than progressing targets – key attitude for error prevention

Coaching expertise can help quantify “good enough.” NVDP carves most everything else away.

++

Repeat The Week:

  • NVDP knows key sessions, by DAY, inside his 5:2 week
  • There is an early week expectation, and a late week expectation
  • Higher work-rates not always better – experience with bicarb letting him train “beyond the limit” forcing additional recovery the next week – [For me: a reminder to respect natural limits.]

++

The Bike: I suspect we will see more athletes using supplemental cycling for fitness (metabolic, aerobic, threshold) – this would work for both running and swimming – if you are a “large” runner or a swimmer with limited access to pool time… then the bike seems life a useful supplement to your plan.

People are going to figure this out. Might you be one of the people? Athletes lead the process.

Clinicians: before you add “running”… keep the “walking” and add “cycling.”

++

Always watching has a cost.

As NVDP says in the Manifesto… “There is a cost of everything.”

How much of my watching is making my team faster?

Might constant monitoring of The Work be creating a net-negative cost?

There will be times when you need to trust yourself and resist the urge to count.


In our own lives:

  • Project – where do I want to take myself?
  • Work – a long period of enjoying what it takes, with ample recovery
  • Block – 2-4 month focus-periods, every 3-4 years, intense focus, ample recovery
  • Session – what one thing, if you get right, will change everything?

The above approach, with buy in from your family, is VERY sustainable!


Prior NVDP Material


The Flowchart of My Project

The Work is #1 and I’ll be there for a long while.

Sunday Summary 24 April 2022

G – Literally Just listened to your catalyst podcast – excellent!!!!  Wow, truly good – thank you for putting that out there.  I took 8 pages of notes and I have already read your writing for decades


Family Wealth

High Performance Case Studies

Workouts

Getting Back To Cycling

From days gone by => Sunshine Beach, QLD, Australia. Married, no kids, scared of Queensland traffic!

Yesterday was 60 days in a row of riding and I wanted to jot down some notes.

The last time I got back in bike shape I was in my early-40s with only one kid and no lockdown restrictions.

Times have changed!


Another blast from the past => as an elite athlete, physiological testing helped me get the most out of my training. This one was during blood lactate testing in NZ.

At the start of May, I’d been locked down since March 13th and was injured from my run program. Early in our lockdown, my wife ordered a Peloton spin bike. I decided to try it out.

May 8th was my first ride. I immediately enjoyed the format – music with no cars. I also liked the fact that my public health authority couldn’t take away my ability to ride indoors!

It’s been a fun progression:

  • May 13th => 20-minute best effort ride (222w, 152 bpm)
  • June 25th, held 221w for 75 minutes at 137bpm
  • 1st week of July held 230w for an hour at 139bpm

I’m at ~3 watts per kilo in my “peppy aerobic zone” – that’s good enough. I’m pleased how it worked out.


A proud moment from my athletic career. Being hung on the Wall of Fame in Dr John Hellemans office. There are a lot of VERY good athletes on that wall! John cared enough to teach an arrogant, but passionate, stranger about exercise physiology and coaching. I learned so much from him.

Here’s my training protocol, you don’t need a Peloton. You do need a bike, a trainer, a heart rate monitor and a power meter.

Ride twice most days, mainly endurance. First ride is done before my kids wake up. I enjoy a cup of coffee then get rolling.

Endurance ride => the basic Peloton format…

  • Three song warm-up
    • Song 1 just spin, build cadence and power into Zone 2/Steady
    • Song 2 insert 4×30 seconds, spin-ups (cadence ~110 rpm) with power not more than Zone 3/Mod-hard
    • Song 3 split in half – Zone 2, Zone 3
  • Endurance set, alternate by song Zone 3 / Zone 2 => 20-45 minutes based on time available.
  • Spin your HR under 100bpm when you’re done

That session is the bulk of my bike training, it works great and will continue to work great. Even more important, I’m having fun.

You can see everything I do on Strava => weights/strength/hills and a lot of “low” HR endurance.

If you go the Peloton route then they have an intro to power module (here’s their power FAQ).


Friday the 13th, March 2009, Kitt Peak, Ajo Highway, Arizona => 40 years old, one of the first times I can remember stopping (mid climb) to take a picture!

Bonus tips:

  • The target power zone sets the MINIMUM for your workout target – put a floor on work – if you can’t hit your endurance zones, or if your HR pops, then your zones are set too high. Upward zone creep is common across all ability levels!
  • Heart rate zone sets the MAXIMUM for your workout – put a ceiling on stress – once warmed up, I give myself permission to push the watts up a bit, so long as my HR stays in my target zone. When I consistently generate higher level power, on lower level HR, I know it’s time to retest my zones.
  • Climbing/Big Gear workouts are a great way to rack up Threshold Watts (Z4) at Mod-Hard Heart Rates (Z3). Example here.
  • My toughest workouts are crisscross sessions – about an hour a week – warm-up and power is going over/under FTP with recoveries in Zone 3/Mod-Hard. Example here.
  • Traditional Spin Classes are done for variety, as a pep rally and to build quickness/cadence. Quickness is key as we age. This skill was tough when I started – it came back fast.
  • Being able to use Peloton to create a “proper” program was a surprise – I thought it was all spin classes and high intensity. Guess I am a bit out of date.
  • The 20-minute benchmarking test is a “nice” session in itself – kinda hurts at the end. You don’t need, or want, to be doing much truly tough stuff in 2020. There are many better places for you to put your energy.
  • Peloton has world class coaches – Alex Toussaint leaves me feeling cheerful every_single_time I do one of his classes. Throughout lockdown, I was laughing out loud with his classes. Laughter is good medicine.
  • Lift weights – moving your power zones up won’t improve your life. Getting stronger will improve your life.

A fun memory => at the end of a 12-day training camp in the Rockies, we did a handicapped TT up Mt Evans (28-mile climb that tops out above 14,000 feet). We adjusted times based on rider/bike weight. Someone noticed I was pounding fluids at the back of the line and we had to redo the weigh-in! This is my buddy Clas, he was training for Zofingen Duathlon so running 2x per day as well as all the cycling we did (over 100,000 feet of vertical). Needless to say, his legs were less than snappy. It was the only time in my life when I could beat him in a sprint!

Clas and me, later, riding into the clouds! The top 14 miles of the climb are closed to traffic this summer. If you ride then pack top/bottom shell and a very warm jacket. Also beware of the dreaded downhill-bonk!

Some specific thoughts on intensity.

  • When you’re training with power, you can track total work measured in kilojoules (KJ). If you’re a time-limited athlete (running home school, working, cleaning your house…) then KJs are worth noting.
  • You’ll quickly see that highly intense workouts have a poor KJ-to-Fatigue ratio. You get a lot of fatigue without much work being done.
  • You might think intensity is a good deal. It’s not. It’s an awful deal because highly intense workouts are stressful and stress makes you eat / crave sugar. Bad deal all around => you can easily gain fat while exercising often and feeling tired. Lose-Lose.
  • The Win-Win is a cardio program that adds energy to your overall life and helps guide your body composition, an endurance-based program.
  • Once your endurance is well established 6-18 months, it only takes a bit of tough stuff to get your numbers to bounce.
  • Your overall program needs to keep you under your sugar threshold. Cravings, and bingeing, are signs of depletion and excess stress.

Aim for a protocol you can do every day for 15 weeks.

Challenge yourself to eliminate the habits that screw up tomorrow’s training.

Keep it simple and repeat the week.