So once you have mentally committed to doing 70.3miles in one go, how do you go about doing it?
1. write a plan
2. personalise the plan
3. get the kit
4. do the plan (training)
(5. adapt the plan and kit as necessary)
For this distance start with 8-12month plan of the races that you need to build your fitness (and test it). For a 7hr event, this means planning in shorter 3-5hr triathlon events and single discipline events of the 1/2IronMan distances.
Next work out how many hours per week you have to train. This is really important, otherwise you will be constantly failing to do your workouts or not achieving your best. In my opinion your weekly hours are allocated as follows: 60% of your workouts to the bike, 20% to the run, 10% to the swim, 10% to doing the additional strength work that will fend off injury.
When you decide many hours of each discipline you are doing it is time to decide on the intensity and volume of each workout, ensuring that you are lengthening distance early in your plan but keeping intensity lower, as you near the races the total distance reduces to reduce stress on your body, but the intensity increases. Every 4 weeks is a "rest" week, as are the weeks after intense races/events.
This weekly plan can then be allocated to a day of the week. Once you know specifically what workouts to do each day you can prescribe when as that week approaches. From my experience, if I didn't put them into my busy day, I would miss them completely.
Have a plan ready for if you miss workouts for one day, 4 days, a week and several weeks.
I kept these two bits of Brownlee brothers advice in my head at all times:
1. bike as often as possible; commute by bike, time fill on the bike, pleasure rides on the bike
2. enjoy your training. (sure I know that there will be times when you don't fancy doing the time-trial or speed work, but try to make ways of going out and exploring new places, meeting new partners, etc).
My favourite training sessions:
1. 60mins bike and run intervals
40min bike - 1st 20min on indoor trainer complete 3 intervals of 8mins building to 8/10 intensity. Recover after each 8/10 intensity at a 2/10 intensity for 2mins. 2nd 20mins is spent building over the course of 2mins up from 7/10 to 8/10 and the next two mins back down from 8/10 intensity to 7/10.
Straight out running, no recovery to repeat the above for the 2nd 20mins only (ie 2min build and 2min reduction in intensity between 7/10 and 8/10 effort).
2. 4 mile run
Run each mile as fast as possible with 2mins slow walk between each mile. This is cheeky as you find that your pace slows with each mile. I love this one out in the sunshine. It's great for building muscular endurance.
3. Swim time trial:
Warm-up with 200m freestyle, 200m kicking only, 200m drills, 200m backstroke. Then...
10 x 100m at maximal effort with 10 sec recovery intervals. Time the entire set, subtract 90sec at the end.
Benefits of Endurance Sports
As I see it, aside from the obvious physiological & mental benefits of engaging in endurance sports:
1. I found new partners, happy to train at longer distances.
2. I trained in different locations whilst doing family things (the International Pool at Cardiff Bay is wonderful)
3. I learnt to devote time to self-healing through massage, stretching and SMR or foam rolling.
4. I always had a plan, so I never had to think about how to do the next step, I just followed the plan.
...And the Not So Good
Some of the harder things to plan for are cancellation to your gym membership, unseasonal snow cancelling training and events and accidents causing a lack of bike for 4 of the 9months training.