How to Qualify - Basic Base for Ironman Hawaii
by Gordo Byrn
Following on from my last installment that covered Your Basic Week, I wanted to get into detail with practical examples of the specific work that is required to get you to Kona.
Before we get stuck into the detail, how are you doing with creating a life structure of a Kona Qualifier?
I ask because your best competition have finished their seasons, completed their rejuvenation blocks and are dropping back into a proven routine.
To be successful you need to create the space to follow a path that others find too difficult.
In my piece on age, gender and body type, I wrote about relative intensity in a training program. I'm not going to repeat myself here other than to remind you that most of your pals:
What I’m going to do is share three phases of training with you: Base Preparation, Overload and Specific Preparation. This week we will handle Base Preparation.
I am also going to split the presentation between an athlete who responds to volume (Strong Stan) and an athlete who responds to intensity (Fast Fran). Keep in mind that the right answer for all of us is a mix of approaches. On average, a focus that’s 80:20 in favor of what we call “base” is a good starting point.
The workouts I use are a mixture of what you can find in our library as well as from the Endurance Corner USAT Library on Training Peaks (free, look for it in the Library section of the site). We’ve also put together a summary of my favorites for you.
Tips that apply to both plans
The base plans assume that you are coping with a real winter. They are designed so that bike volume can be completed completely indoors, if necessary. When you get a weather window, I recommend that you forget about the specific plan and get outside for steady bike volume, which is a critical part of ironman success.
If you want to be in the top 0.1% of your sport then you need to be willing to do what 99.9% of your competitors are unwilling to do. Besides learning how to pace, that means you need to do proper swim training across the winter. These programs are relatively swim heavy. Every winter, you want to dramatically improve your swimming.
Overall, even Stan’s volume-focused program is pretty peppy. Honestly, it is more peppy than I could handle (see Fast at Forty and Coaching Your Competition). Remember that you can get great results from training easier and you will under-perform if you lack consistency.
Finally, I’ve set the price of the six-week plans at $9.95 in TrainingPeaks. I’m going to move those prices up in the New Year.
Strong Stan’s Basic Week
Monday - Swim: Monsy 100s (40x100) with IM / Bike: Intensive Endurance
Stan’s week is light on bike volume so once a month I would:
As well, as a bigger guy, we will want to extend Sam’s run endurance by increasing run frequency, rather than intensity or duration. We could do that by having a run focused week each month:
So Stan’s month ends up looking like:
To create a six week block, you insert:
Repeat that three times and Stan’s going to be ready for either Overload or some Specific Preparation for early season races.
Fast Fran’s Basic Week
Much of Fran’s week will be the same as Stan’s but the relative intensity will be higher and one of the lower body rest days will be removed as she doesn’t need as much recovery.
Monday - Swim: Monsy 100s (24x100) with IM / Bike: Intensive Endurance / Gym Strength (whole body)
Fran runs relatively well so the main tweaks to her weekly cycle will be:
So Fran’s four-week cycle will look like:
Following the four-week cycle, I would recommend a light five days that are followed by nine days that include a demanding bike TT and various benchmark sets (all sports).
This structure works particularly well for an athlete without access to race venues in their Base period.
I wouldn’t repeat the six-week cycle more than twice before shifting to a race block, or consolidating with six-weeks similar to Strong Stan. With Fast Fran’s approach, pay careful attention to plateaus, which can be caused from lack of recovery and/or setting the intensity targets too high.
Note: The embedded links throughout this article are essential for giving yourself the background to understand your training mix. Dedicated readers should click through to gain additional perspective.
Gordo is the founder of Endurance Corner. You can find his personal blog here.