I had a pretty good 2012. Actually, a really good 2012, at least from an athletic perspective:
- Two Ironman finishes, including the infamous 2012 IM St. George
- 3-minute Olympic-distance PR of 2:15:01 at Malibu
- 22-minute Ironman PR of 10:04:24
- Best age group placings ever at Ironman events: 10th at St. George, 7th at Hawaii 70.3, 3rd at Arizona
- Qualified for 2013 Kona at Arizona
- All at age 50 🙂
Ok, turning 50 definitely helped with the placings and the Kona slot, but the rest is pretty unusual, particularly because I’m not a newbie to the sport — I did my first tri in 1983 and have done more than 100, many of which you can’t even find on Athlinks because they predate the WWW (“that’s right, sonny, back in my day we got our race results on paper, mailed weeks or months after the event, and we liked it!”). So what made the difference?
- Emphasis on the bike.
- Measuring almost everything.
Triathlon, especially an event as long as the Ironman, is all about the bike. Well, sort of. You have to get through the swim without losing a ton of time, and of course you have to close the deal with a good run, but like many triathletes I come from a running background. That has always been my strong suit. But the bike is where you can gain the most time and set yourself up for your best run. So I started last year by riding 5-6 days a week, mostly on my trainer. Using, in the beginning, two Spinervals Super 6 programs to establish my base.
Measurement and planning was all thanks to TrainingPeaks, whom I had the pleasure to represent as an ambassador athlete in 2012 and again this year. I have limited training time, like pretty much everyone else, so I have to make it count. Here’s a good picture of 2012 on my TrainingPeaks dashboard:
In the pie charts on the upper right, you can see visually the emphasis on the bike, both in distance (which you would expect) and in duration (which you would also expect, though to a lesser degree). You can also see, in the widget on the bottom right, my two most important metrics: Intensity Factor (“IF”) and Training Stress Score (“TSS”), both of which were invented by the TrainingPeaks folks. What the blue values (TSS per week) show is how I built early on for St. George, then recovered, then built big time in the late summer/early fall for Arizona. All at a fairly steady average IF of above .75 and below .85, which for me at least is a sweet spot for Ironman training.
Along the way last year, I also guided the training of one of my teammates, the infamous Mikey, who shows up in many of my “Garage of Pain” and other key sessions. He had a similarly stellar year relative to normal, other than some bad luck at Arizona, but the point is the program worked — not just for me.
It was such a success, in fact, that we’re rolling it out to the entire Team Sheeper crew of athletes this coming year. We’ll be using TrainingPeaks for early season fitness and strength building, and then for specific programs aimed at goal half Ironman (Wildflower, Hawaii 70.3, Vineman 70.3) and Ironman (Coeur d’Alene, Lake Tahoe, Kona) events. I’m really excited to play a role in combining the team traditions of fun and hard training with a data-driven approach for managing training load within busy lives and professions. I’ve lived it, and continue to live it, and now I get to teach others.
So I guess I’m “Coach Ian.” All I need now are some stretchy coach’s shorts and a whistle.
If you live anywhere near Menlo Park, come and check it out! We don’t bite…much.