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2013-12-15 2:33 PM

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Subject: Off Season- Tips or plans?
I am in my off season right now and finished last season with a HIM and then an Olypmic Tri in September. Since
then I have ran one half marathon, but otherwise have been maintaining fitness, lifting, etc. I JUST started swimming
two weeks ago and biking last week.

Does anyone have any off-season "plans" that can help me prepare for my full Ironman training season? I am
doing Florida next November so I've got lots of time. I may run a marathon in the spring but will certainly NOT
be shooting for Boston qualifying or anything super competitive. I run 3-4 days per week and am trying to get
2 swims and 2 bike rides in right now. I also do a lifting class twice a week (2 hours total per week) and 2-3 ab
sessions. I just have NO IDEA if what I am doing is enough as I head into a 30-40 week Ironman training program
in the spring/summer.

Would love the advice of seasoned IM athletes, trainers, or those heading into your first IM season who have
already done the research.

Thanks!


2013-12-15 3:42 PM
in reply to: midwesttrimom

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Subject: RE: Off Season- Tips or plans?
I'm in the same boat. I just made up an off-season plan and it seems pretty time consuming but I have some big goals next year. For me, I try to get in 3x of each sport still. My run needs to improve, my swim just plan sucks (so I may switch it to 4x and take something else out), but my bike is OK but I think that's where I'll get the most bang-for-buck since my marathon time during IM was a few secs over 4 hours and seeing how people are doing the bike in around 5 hours, I can shave off a lot of time there vs my run which is probably as good as it's going to get for an IM marathon. My plan right now (until about 6 weeks from now):

M: Weights "off day"
T: Swim 2500-3500m + hour run
W: Swim 2500-3500m + hour bike
T: Hour bike + hour run
F: Swim 2500-3500m + hour run
Sat: 2-3h bike. Mainly doing lactate threshold workouts with the goal of raising my FTP. Going to slowly increase to 4 hours soon.
Sun: 1-2h run. Will start to add a 100+rpm Z1 recovery bike ride after run soon (trainer of course). This really helped during IM training since it made my legs feel as if I didn't just pound them for up to 3 hours.

I consider this my 12 week base...well at least for running because I screwed up that idea with slightly harder lactate threshold workouts on bike (~20 min intervals of 90-95% FTP). Running is Z2 only for me right now and I'll add in intervals after the base. Sometimes I feel like this base training is helping and sometimes I feel like it's not. My HR appears to be ever slightly lower at the same pace as it was a few months ago but that could also be from the colder weather too.

I sort of have my training plan setup for next year but I need to revisit it for sure. Since this is the off-season I don't feel bad (well...not too bad), if I miss a workout or two. I just needed something with structure to it so I at least keep trying.
2013-12-17 6:38 AM
in reply to: Blastman

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Subject: RE: Off Season- Tips or plans?
Originally posted by Blastman

I'm in the same boat. I just made up an off-season plan and it seems pretty time consuming but I have some big goals next year. For me, I try to get in 3x of each sport still. My run needs to improve, my swim just plan sucks (so I may switch it to 4x and take something else out), but my bike is OK but I think that's where I'll get the most bang-for-buck since my marathon time during IM was a few secs over 4 hours and seeing how people are doing the bike in around 5 hours, I can shave off a lot of time there vs my run which is probably as good as it's going to get for an IM marathon. My plan right now (until about 6 weeks from now):

M: Weights "off day"
T: Swim 2500-3500m + hour run
W: Swim 2500-3500m + hour bike
T: Hour bike + hour run
F: Swim 2500-3500m + hour run
Sat: 2-3h bike. Mainly doing lactate threshold workouts with the goal of raising my FTP. Going to slowly increase to 4 hours soon.
Sun: 1-2h run. Will start to add a 100+rpm Z1 recovery bike ride after run soon (trainer of course). This really helped during IM training since it made my legs feel as if I didn't just pound them for up to 3 hours.

I consider this my 12 week base...well at least for running because I screwed up that idea with slightly harder lactate threshold workouts on bike (~20 min intervals of 90-95% FTP). Running is Z2 only for me right now and I'll add in intervals after the base. Sometimes I feel like this base training is helping and sometimes I feel like it's not. My HR appears to be ever slightly lower at the same pace as it was a few months ago but that could also be from the colder weather too.

I sort of have my training plan setup for next year but I need to revisit it for sure. Since this is the off-season I don't feel bad (well...not too bad), if I miss a workout or two. I just needed something with structure to it so I at least keep trying.


What Ironman are you doing and when is it? I am NOT as much of athlete as you are! I can tell by your times. I am hoping to finish my Ironman in around 13-14 hours. It's my first one. I am not sure if this may be too much for me, but maybe it's something I can build up to as I get closer? It is at least something to shoot for. I am about 11 months out from my race still. Thoughts?
2013-12-17 6:45 AM
in reply to: Blastman

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Subject: RE: Off Season- Tips or plans?

What does your Saturday bike look like?

Most workouts to raise FTP are shorter and intense like 2x20' at FTP with warm up and cool down so maybe 1-1.5 hours. Longer like your 4 hour ride to raise lactate threshold what do you do?

2013-12-17 12:41 PM
in reply to: midwesttrimom

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Subject: RE: Off Season- Tips or plans?

Generally, take a good look at the plan. Look over the first few weeks to a month in particular. How does your current fitness seem compare to be able to handle that load? You have some experience with training over the past few years, so that will help in assessing this. If one aspect seems less proficient than the others, then that's one you want to work on more. Try to keep from looking at the magnitude of an Ironman too much at this point. Look more at being able to handle the training. The early going should not be difficult. Then trust the plan to take your fitness and convert/improve things appropriately for the event. Be ready to handle what the plan gives you from the get go.

People are going to be all over the place on what they're doing because of drastically different abilities and interests, so keep focus on what you need to work on and seek more ideas about how to address that.

2013-12-18 6:38 AM
in reply to: brigby1

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Subject: RE: Off Season- Tips or plans?
Originally posted by brigby1

Generally, take a good look at the plan. Look over the first few weeks to a month in particular. How does your current fitness seem compare to be able to handle that load? You have some experience with training over the past few years, so that will help in assessing this. If one aspect seems less proficient than the others, then that's one you want to work on more. Try to keep from looking at the magnitude of an Ironman too much at this point. Look more at being able to handle the training. The early going should not be difficult. Then trust the plan to take your fitness and convert/improve things appropriately for the event. Be ready to handle what the plan gives you from the get go.

People are going to be all over the place on what they're doing because of drastically different abilities and interests, so keep focus on what you need to work on and seek more ideas about how to address that.




Thanks for this. I know right now that I can do the first 10 weeks of my program without any major issues. I already put in several hours a week. I do not do super long rides on my trainer and I really don't plan to. I do plenty of interval, speed, hills but I never ride more than 2 hours right
now on the trainer. And, honestly, I don't plan on doing that until January/Feb. Right now I am focusing on running, two solid bike workouts, and 2-3 swim workouts. I just wasn't sure if it was enough of a base. I may run a spring marathon and will most certainly do an Olympic Tri and at least 1-2 half marathons. I will train fairly hard for these races as my group is competitive. I am sure many will think I'm crazy but I wasn't planning to do any 4 hour rides until I am into my IM training. I know people are all over the board, but sometimes this makes me nervous.

But, my goals are fairly loose for this first Ironman. Sure, I'd like to PR at my HIM time this year, but the IM is a whole different beast. I want to finish, not HATE it, and handle the training with 3 kids, 2 playing tournament ball, and still being a good parent/wife.

I guess maintain and start the build in the early spring just like I am training for my regular season and then go from there possibly?

Thanks all.


2013-12-18 9:25 AM
in reply to: midwesttrimom

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Subject: RE: Off Season- Tips or plans?
I agree with Brigby....check out those first weeks to see how you stack up. Based on your answer, you're totally fine, and I'm going to go even further and say you probably can pick up your plan 10 weeks in. IMO, sometimes 30 weeks is just too long to be a slave to a particular plan.

But, just keep doing what you're doing. Don't push through any little niggling injuries. Now's the time to get yourself to be 100% going into the training. Work on skills, especially in the pool. Proper form now. Endurance builds quickly when you get into the plan.

At this point, rest is a priority. If your plan is a similar schedule each week (e.g. Fink), you may want to get into the basic rhythm of the weekly plan, but if you're tired or worn, give yourself permission to skip the workout.

With the runs, I had the best running/tri season after the one winter where I consistently ran a 10-13 miler on the weekend, and then threw in some road races where I wasn't racing per se.

I'm in favor of the strength workouts in the offseason, and definitely core work. You might want to add some flexibility too.
2013-12-18 9:28 AM
in reply to: midwesttrimom

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Subject: RE: Off Season- Tips or plans?
One more thing....be careful of a spring marathon. Not sure of your running background, but marathons do take a toll on the body...even slight niggling things can become bigger issues as your training ramps up. if you're doing to prep for the Ironman, I'd say skip it. Actually, I'd say skip it regardless. You'd be better off running a harder half than an easy full marathon.
2013-12-18 8:46 PM
in reply to: runnerx

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Subject: RE: Off Season- Tips or plans?

I've been wondering about the purpose of the marathon as well. Is this one you REALLY wanted to do? If this has anything to do with getting ready for the Ironman, I'd lean towards skip it as well. Thought the IM was a November one? It's a ways off, but  that would also mean a long time of structured training. First to build up for the marathon, recover, and then into building back up for the IM training. You have marathon experience, even if awhile ago, so making sure of the intention. Would the half marathons be enough?

Going for shorter bike workouts on the trainer is fine. The is no need for you to go 4 hrs right now. Save that for outside. You can get a lot out of 1-2 hr rides if you learn how to work them strong & hard at times. I ride a fair amount more than most and haven't gone past 3 in awhile.

2013-12-18 9:54 PM
in reply to: 0

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Subject: RE: Off Season- Tips or plans?
Originally posted by KathyG

What does your Saturday bike look like?

Most workouts to raise FTP are shorter and intense like 2x20' at FTP with warm up and cool down so maybe 1-1.5 hours. Longer like your 4 hour ride to raise lactate threshold what do you do?




Yeah I'm doing 20min ~90% FTP intervals with about 5 min rest between sets. Been 6 weeks, so it may be time to retest FTP and see if I'm off.

Anyway., back on topic:

I agree with other people and that you should find your plan and then find out how hard you want to work. I did Fink's 30 week plan and it had me starting off at 6 hours a week. Coming from running 3 marathons before, where 6 hours/week was about the max I'd run, I didn't feel the need to work out any longer than that before hand. Fast forward now and I think 6 hours/week is too little. You need to find out how much you want to put into it but do make a plan for the off season! It's not going to kill you to miss workouts, more so on the off-season, but having a plan around helps hold you somewhat accountable (and allows you to eat a little less healthy Also try to work on your weaknesses on the off-season.

As for the marathon:
I did a mix of Fink's plan + Hal Higdon long run day. Week 1 for both plans started on the same week, so I thought it was fate This meant I was run heavy at first but it didn't affect/hurt me. A million people on here will say skip the marathon. That's up to you. I had 12 weeks after my marathon to finish up the rest of my IM training. It's on you if you want to do it. If you ever feel hurt or it's too much for you, then skip it. It also depends on how well you recover. After my first marathon, I was out of commission for weeks....now, it's just a few days. I've been working on 180 cadence for running and my legs and knees feel a lot better than my old 150ish cadence. Also, if you do plan to do a marathon, then bike in Z1 after your long run. I think that's what kept me from hurting myself during my IM training in general. My legs felt fresh after it, which was really strange but it's VERY hard to motivate yourself to get on the trainer after a 2-3 hour run.

Good luck though.

Edited by Blastman 2013-12-18 9:55 PM
2013-12-19 12:11 PM
in reply to: 0

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Subject: RE: Off Season- Tips or plans?

Originally posted by Blastman
Originally posted by KathyG

What does your Saturday bike look like?

Most workouts to raise FTP are shorter and intense like 2x20' at FTP with warm up and cool down so maybe 1-1.5 hours. Longer like your 4 hour ride to raise lactate threshold what do you do?

Yeah I'm doing 20min ~90% FTP intervals with about 5 min rest between sets. Been 6 weeks, so it may be time to retest FTP and see if I'm off.

What does the entire week of riding look like?

ETA: Generally, all work is done with the idea of raising FTP, but that doesn't mean all of it is right at FTP. Curious about this as I've seen many put in some time on the bike, but not really getting that much out of it. Mainly since they ride fairly easy a lot of the time. Or not hard enough often enough.



Edited by brigby1 2013-12-19 12:17 PM


2013-12-20 4:39 AM
in reply to: midwesttrimom


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Subject: RE: Off Season- Tips or plans?
I heard than cross country skiing in the winter is a very good off-season cardio training (if you don't live too far from mountains... ;-) ). It can replace some long bike rides. Some of my friends who did that over the past years started the season with a very good condition .
2013-12-22 7:37 AM
in reply to: runnerx

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Subject: RE: Off Season- Tips or plans?
Originally posted by runnerx

One more thing....be careful of a spring marathon. Not sure of your running background, but marathons do take a toll on the body...even slight niggling things can become bigger issues as your training ramps up. if you're doing to prep for the Ironman, I'd say skip it. Actually, I'd say skip it regardless. You'd be better off running a harder half than an easy full marathon.


I think it's more the fear of the marathon that makes me want to run one since it's been a few years. I know you are right, though. I should most likely skip it. Maybe I will run two half marathons and try to work on possibly hitting a PR at one of them. I appreciate all of this feedback.
2013-12-22 9:05 AM
in reply to: midwesttrimom

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Subject: RE: Off Season- Tips or plans?

Good thread with some really good replies. Thanks.

2013-12-22 10:37 AM
in reply to: midwesttrimom

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Subject: RE: Off Season- Tips or plans?

That makes more sense. Just getting in a good deal of running is what you want. Being able to run a solid HM will be plenty to do this and have a significantly shorter recovery.

Also, this can give you more opportunity to work on the swim & bike. It's not uncommon for people to fixate more on the run, but you'll need to get through these other two well enough to have a chance at running well. Need to have decent fitness and understanding of pacing in these. Don't worry so much about the run being a marathon specifically, but rather look more at it more as being ready to run for awhile.

2013-12-28 3:35 PM
in reply to: brigby1

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Subject: RE: Off Season- Tips or plans?
Originally posted by brigby1

That makes more sense. Just getting in a good deal of running is what you want. Being able to run a solid HM will be plenty to do this and have a significantly shorter recovery.

Also, this can give you more opportunity to work on the swim & bike. It's not uncommon for people to fixate more on the run, but you'll need to get through these other two well enough to have a chance at running well. Need to have decent fitness and understanding of pacing in these. Don't worry so much about the run being a marathon specifically, but rather look more at it more as being ready to run for awhile.




Thanks. Appreciate the feedback. When I start riding with my group in the spring, EVERY SINGLE RIDE is HARD and tough for me. I have to work overtime just to keep up. We don't draft a lot, either. I try but it's nearly impossible with these women. They are that tough. Regardless, I have no problem getting the 1 hour to 1:30 FAST, HARD rides that include several hills. I, however, have NO IDEA what to do on long rides if I am alone.
I struggle sometimes. I can ride for 3 hours at 18-19 miles per hour but I never track heart rate or anything. That is my goal for this season. Would most of you recommend ONLY HR training at this point? Do I need a trainer or professional to get started in this? Have any pointers here? I can post another thread or I am sure there are some floating around here too. This is hanging over my head. I know it needs to be done and I think I'd be faster in the longer races if I did better with this. I just haven't had the time to sit down and really figure it all out! I have always been fortunate enough to have super fast bikers and runners to workout with so I haven't struggled through races and have always placed fairly well. Well enough not to feel like a super slow triathlete. I know this is a whole new game and I need to be prepared for 6-7 hour workouts and how to get the most out of them without killing myself off. This is where a trainer would be a HUGE ASSET.


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