The Build Up to Melbourne Ironman
New Year, New Team
Natasha and I enjoyed our time in the Fitness First tri-team and have many good friends there, but we felt that the new-year was time for a new team. We left Fitness First with the intention of joining Team OMO with David Richmond. OMO stands for On My Own! However, once my old mate Jonah knew we were team-less he made us an offer we could not refuse. He offered friendship and a nice green tri-suit. Luckily for us Sante Barley welcomed our training buddies in Wallen, David and Julien as well.
I read a great book called “Running with the Kenyans” prior to leaving for our Australian trip in December 2013. It highlighted the Kenyan’s barefoot running as the origin for their superior running form.
Well, that was good enough for me. It is foolish to run barefoot in Adelaide, at the beach, or even in Makati due to the rocks etc. encountered along the way, so I went minimalist. This meant only using my very lightweight K-Swiss race shoes at all times.
For many kilometers in Adelaide, lots of kilometers in Boracay (plenty of beach running) and thousands of kilometers in Manila, I went minimalist. I feel it strengthened my calves and improved my running form.
Maybe the proof was in the pudding during my first running podium finish. In the 34km Love a Tree Trail run I came in second (sandwiched between two young members of the Philippine trail running team) and finished strong. The race was grueling and took 4 hours but I was able to run well till the end. It actually took 3 days to recover from this event (more than Japan Ironman).
Getting Primed – More Food & Better Quality
My main change came with what I ate. I was targeting a racing weight of 67 kilos (but would probably have been 68.5 or so) but through eating more of better quality food I raced at 64 kilos. My pre-race check-in was 64.3 kilos but that was with my clothes on. I wanted to be weighed without my clothes but they would not allow me to!
Basically my new eating habits were like this:
– Eat: Meats; Veg (not beans, peas, potatoes, corn or tofu); Fruits; Nuts (not peanuts); Oils and Fats are ok. Certain types of oil like olive and coconut are fine.
– Do not eat: Dairy; Grains; Sweets; Fruit Juices; Soft Drinks; Starchy Veg; Fatty Meats; Legumes (beans etc. mentioned) and Alcohol (ouch). I actually drink wine but definitely no beer or spirits.
I did not stick to primed eating religiously until March 1st and had a 2 week trial period beforehand where I stuck to the above plan as best I could. After March 1st I was personally eating more but losing excess fats from my stomach. I continued this way of eating right up until the race, and even during the Ironman race itself, and feel this was one of the largest contributing factors towards my good performance.
I did no carbo-loading at all. I ate lots of fruit, meats, vegetables and nuts. So, even with reducing my training for the 3 weeks before Melbourne Ironman (tapering) I lost a significant amount of weight. I was training less, eating more and losing weight.
More Kilometers & Better Quality
I tried to ensure better quality training by mixing in more speed work. Not a lot, but just sprinting short distances at least once a week in each discipline. When running my 9 kilometers home from work I would incorporate a sprint session once a week. This sprint session only involved 2 or 3 little sprints within the 9km. Likewise, whilst on the bike machine, I would push all out for 2 minutes or so once or twice a week.
For the 10 weeks prior to Melbourne Ironman I swam an average of 12km/week, biked an average of 192km/week and ran an average of 97km/week. This was perhaps a little too much and would have been had I not tapered appropriately.
The 3 weeks before Melbourne Ironman I swam an average of 12.3km/week (no need to taper your swim), biked an average of 137km/week and ran an average of 59km/week. The main point here is that you do not want to race the Ironman tired. You should be well trained, but refreshed and looking forward to the event.
For Japan Ironman my training was similar but I ran an average of 99km/week for the 3 weeks prior to the race and definitely was not as well rested and fresh as I should have been. More is not always better.
Regular Weights Sessions
For 10 weeks prior to Melbourne Ironman I did at least 2 sessions per week. The sessions lasted a maximum of 20 minutes (sometimes just 10) and were built around the principle of maximum contraction. I lifted heavy weights but with fewer repetitions (more intensity). So, a typical session might include pull-ups, Gironda dips, dumbbells for arm and shoulder reps, squats and leg lifts.
However, for the last 2 weeks before Melbourne Ironman I switched to eccentric training by doing even less reps but with better form and using more muscle fibers. Here, you do not concentrate on the pulling the weight up, but once up would count to 10 on the way down. This is a far more efficient and effective way to grow your muscles to get stronger.
I really tried to listen to my body and rest when necessary. Whether it is for the whole day, missing an evening session or just going very slowly, I tried to be in tune with how my body felt. I tried to ensure my muscles had time to rest and recover.
After swimming without a wetsuit in Hokkaido’s Lake Toya I decided it would be pertinent to use one in the chilly waters off Melbourne’s Frankston beach. Luckily our friends Anton and Rizzo were able to lend me their wetsuit which had already completed a Melbourne Ironman in 2012! Thanks Rizzo and Anton. I estimated that this would assist with my swimming and cut my time by at least 10%. Fingers crossed.
Next post will be the race itself.