Experiment: Train for Ironman in two months?

(Unedited - Work in progress)

Last year I registered for an Ironman thinking I have plenty of time to get ready. My family and consulting practice took priority and I didn't train. 

Rather than losing out on the 900 dollars, I decided to see if I can get ready in two months. 

I have been running and lifting weights since Ultraman two years go. I haven't been training but merely trying to stay in shape. I have been on my bike 3 times in the past two years and have only swum once. 

The plan

I have asked my first coach(Iron Mike) to help me. His plan is to ramp up volume immediately with a focus on biking and swimming.

So that I avoid injury, I plan on eating mostly a plant-based and fish diet. 

  • Breakfast: Green smoothie
  • Lunch: Salad, fruit, sweet potato, fish
  • Snacks: Nuts and dried fruit
  • Dinner: Salad, fruit and fish
  • Pre-workout: Daterade. 
  • Post workout: Protein shake

I will post my diet and exercise log here  in case anyone would like to attempt the same experiment in the future. 

My goal: Finish Ironman Maryland in under 13 hours. 

Results

Did the experiment work?

Yes.

I can get Ironman ready in 8 weeks with a base level of fitness. After years of doing this my body can response a very quick increase in training volume. I did not get injured. Had the swim not been cancelled, I believe I would have finished the race between 12 hours - 12h15 minutes.

Ironman Maryland (2016)

  • Bike pace: 17.34 
  • Run Pace: 9:54

Ironman Austria (2011)

  • Bike Pace:18.09
  • Run Pace: 09:19  

What I learned

I really underestimate what my body is capable of. I can train and race a half and full ironman in two months while:

  • Organizing and speaking at a conference in Amsterdam(Combined with a family vacation)
  • Teaching 4 classes. One in London and 3 in NYC
  • Two business trips to Chicago
  • Doing the majority of my long rides at home with the kids

Brain dump

  • Used the same bike for both bikes. Road bike for both races. Didn't use aero bars for Maryland.
  • Conditions were much windier in Maryland than in Austria
  • Swim was cancelled due to weather conditions in Maryland. I have no doubt I would have finished the swim though. I had comfortably done the distance the week before. 
  • Felt really strong on the run. This makes sense as I kept my running fitness relatively consistent since 2011.
  • You should do a full ironman on a road bike. My triceps were not happy.
  • Slept really well the night before Maryland. Could barely sleep the night before Austria.
  • Nutrition was dialed in for Maryland. 
  • Felt really strong for ironman Atlantic City. It was one of my fasted half ironman. I believe I could have even went 5 minutes faster than 5:45.
  • Lost about 8 pounds. Much leaner now.
  • I only did about 80% of my training that mike put in my calendar.
  • I learned what is wrong with my stroke.

Training

Week

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Total Hours

Retrospective

Week One: Removing the cob webs
August 1 - 7
Recover Weights. Chest and Triceps.
50min
(Run) Long run to see where my fitness is. 11 miles. Felt strong.
90 Minutes
(Bike) 30 Miles. First bike in a long time. Felt week.
130 minutes.
(Swim) 1500. 3x300 + warm and cool down. Was a hot mess.
45minutes.
(Bike) Time trial in Richmod park.
120 minutes.
(Bike) 62 miles with Mike. Really pushed myself to keep up with him. Averaged 17.5 to windsor back. Mike wanted me to push a harder gear rather than an easier gear and maintain 90-100 RPM. Doing so started really engaging my hamstrings and glutes.
210 minutes
10 hours & 45 Minutes I paid the price of not cycling or swimming this week.
Week Two: Shock and Awe
August 8 - 14
Recover (Bike) 3 Time trial laps of Richmond Park. Averaged around 21 minutes for the 7mile loop.
120 Minutes

(Swim) 8x200. Total distance 2200 m.
65 Minutes
(Run) Long run at race pace. Did 18 miles at a good pace. Note to self: dont have sushi for lunch. Suffered from some acid reflux.
157 minutes
(Bike) Turbo session with Fullontri.
50 minutes

(swim) Group swim session. Coaches noticed that i'd dragging my feet and I need to do more leg drills.
55 Minutes
Recovery (Ride) Long ride with fullontri. 85 miles. Felt strong.
300
Travel to Chicago

Upperbody in the hotel gym
30 minutes
13 hours I am not doing a good job at recovery. My left achilles started hurting after my log run. My right knee is niggling from the bike ride & my siatic nerve hurts from swimming. I am not sleeping well, not foam roaling or stretching. Need to fix that ASAP.
Week Three:
Ironman training while travelling to chicago.
(Run)8.5 Mile in 75 min

(Weights)Legs, abs, foam rolling
(Swim) 500m long and steady warm up.15 x 100m hard pace with 20s in-between each one.500m steady cooldown. (bike) Soul cycle (Swim) 20 x 200 in 94min. Outch! (Weights) Chest, Bis, Tris, Shoulders

10 mins warm up. 2 x 20 mins hard as you can with 5 mins rest easy between each one. 10 mins easy cooldown.
(bike) 90 min Turbo (swim) 45 minute open water

(run) 12.5 miles
11 Hours 19 Minutes. It took a lot of preplanning to not miss a session this week. The last minute trip to New Jersey ruined the long ride. It felt stupid to go for a 5 hour bike ride when my family was all around me.

What I did well: Preplanning. Eg. Finding a pool in Chicago, Soul Cycle.
What I can improve on: Sleeping in on Saturday and missing the ride with Mofo and Mohamed. Not doing another loop of the swim. I was mentally strong in Chicago, wasnt in New Jersey. Wonder if it had anything to do with bad sleep?
Week 4: Still in Chicago. Cracking the swim (Run) 9 miles. Felt strong. Maybe ran a bit too fast at the end. 75 Minutes (swim) 90 Minutes. Crazy swim set. (run) 80 Minute run.
(bike) Soul Cycle
(swim) 3 x 1000meters.
Weights
travel travel (bike) 4 hour turbo with hard efforts followed by a 20 minute run total time: 11 hours and 5 minutes Swim has been the high light of this week. Feel like i'm finally back on track with the swim.
Week 5: Back in London and then straight to Amsterdam. work Work Work Work 2 Hour turbo 4 Hour turbo trainer with some hard efforts 18 mile run in 2 hours 35 Minutes total time: 8 hours and 35 minutes Jet Lag, lots of work. Not an ideal training week.
Week 6: Back in London. Big training week. Weights. Upper body 1h 45m minute ride to Richmond. Used a big gear. Felt strong
8 Miles in 74 minutes.
Swim 90 Minutes Drills plus some long efforts 21 Mile run in 3 Hours and 18 minutes 1 Hour 45 Hard Tubo effort
45 Half ironman distance swim
4 Hours on the turbo total time: 15 hours Body/mind are physically exausted. Feel the need to rest.
Week 7: Ironman Atlantic City Bike Ride Ironman AC
Week 8: Taper 2.2 Mile open water swim
Week 9: The Race The Race! Ironman Maryland