Ask the Coach: Tricky Half Iron Distance Training Schedule

author : leighdodd
comments : 0
Member Question

Having completed a few sprints and Olympic distance events I have finally decided to enter a half-iron in June. My issue is that I am currently deployed in Bangladesh and training outside is proving difficult, especially on the bike. I have access to a 16 meter pool and I have found a relatively safe 10km running loop but I am struggling with bike training. I am following a BT customized training plan but often have to adapt my sessions .

My current bike training looks like this: 

Sunday - 2.5hr spinning class 
Monday - Run 
Tuesday - 90min Turbo / Run 
Wednesday - Swim/Run 
Thursday - 2.5hr spinning class 
Friday - 4hr Mountain Bike ride / Swim 
Saturday - Swim / Run 

Is that a good mix or should or I concentrate on longer turbo sessions on my road bike? 

Answer from Coach Leigh Dodd

Training for a half iron distance race is never easy or lightly undertaken. This schedule is a good example of that understanding. The weekly duration for the cycling with the current circumstances (10.5 hours) will build the necessary endurance needed to complete the bike leg. While I would prefer you to have more time on the road bike over the mountain or spin bike, if the conditions are not safe for long rides, then alternative versions of being in the saddle are welcome.

That said, how the time is spent in the saddle is more important. Since the spin classes are under the direction of someone else, there’s not much adjustment you can make, although I would stress that the spin sessions are not to be done to exhaustion. I would allow Thursday to work at a lower level than Monday since it is before the long MTB ride on Friday. With the long mountain bike ride, I would practice your nutrition for race day, starting early in the schedule to work out any GI issues that might arise along with the timing. Know that the power spikes in mountain biking will most likely cause a need for more calories than a long consistent road session, but understanding how your body handles particular combinations of calories will translate.

One more adjustment I would make would be to move the Monday run to Sunday and do a brick after the spin class or move the Sunday bike to Monday and create a full off day. I think the first option (with a Monday off day) would allow a higher quality Sunday brick and a more intense Tuesday ride, which is perfect since this one will be on the road bike. Having a full day off during harder weeks when training for a long course race is as crucial as a scheduled recovery week.

The four bikes would fall out in this pattern: Tuesday-brick ride on road (intensity), Thursday-spin class (working at a lower intensity and used as an endurance recovery day), Friday-Mountain bike (power and endurance) and Sunday-spin class brick (intensity). The other concern I have is that this isn’t the duration for every single week and that you follow the given durations of the plan, including rest weeks to allow the power and intensity built up to take hold.

Sunday - 2.5hr spinning class / Brick Run
Monday - OFF
Tuesday - 90min Turbo bike / Brick Run 
Wednesday - Swim/Run 
Thursday - 2.5hr spinning class 
Friday - 4hr Mountain Bike ride / Swim 
Saturday - Swim / Run 

Lastly, as you build down into your race and taper, I would spend one extra day on the road bike in lieu of the long spin session, as most schedules would have a few 60 minute rides in preparation for a half iron distance race. If it’s at all possible, getting into an open water swim session at least once before the race (including at the venue if it’s available) would very helpful to success in the race.

The duration and frequency of the proposed schedule with the adjustments I have suggest will allow for success from start to finish on race day, provided that you, the athlete, allows for rest days and recovery weeks and builds through each leg of the race.

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date: May 20, 2014