I love setting big targets. Whether it’s wanting to finish an Ironman, a marathon or even your first sprint triathlon. Anything that stretches you, gets you out of your comfort zone or even just up off the couch. Alternately setting a big target can often seem overwhelming especially when life interferes and disrupts training plans. Alan Ryan has set himself a target of not only qualifying for Kona but actually winning his age group there. How does one of the best age group athletes go about achieving such big targets?
It’s a bit like the saying about how do you eat an elephant? The answer? One bite at a time. It’s very much the same when it comes to Ironman or any big goal. You can only do one session, one day at a time. I try not to look at the enormity of, instead just focusing on one part at a time. If problems arise successful athletes find a way around, over or through them.
But they’re different to me I hear you say. They’re talented and fast and probably popped out of the womb wearing cycling shoes and pedalling like this guy.
Not so much. Alan was a heavy smoker and about four stone overweight before trying his hand at an Ironman. He also didn’t have a background in endurance sport, as far as I’m aware he comes from good solid Irish stock but his folks weren’t Olympians. So no unusually freakish genetics to explain his success at Ironman.
Related: Kona: 10 Qualities needed to qualify
So what is his secret? Well for one some of his training methods are a little unorthodox (or maybe just downright crazy like I wrote about here) but most of what makes Alan faster than the average bear (Yogi reference will only work on the over forty year olds) is not the fact that he spends 5 hours a day, every day training (which he doesn’t) but instead tailors his training to fit into his busy life. On days when things go nuts and he cant fit in the planned bike session he will happily jump on the turbo for 30 or 40 minutes or do a 20 minute specific weights session.
He’s a big fan of go long and easy or short and hard. The main thing to take away is that he gets something done. The other thing Alan does that every Ironman who races in the heat but trains somewhere cold or in the winter should take note of is the fact that he turbos or runs on the treadmill with the heat on. He monitors the temperature in his training room and in the depths of an Irish winter he’s cycling in temperatures hitting mid to high twenties centigrade which is what he would typically be racing in in a Summer European Ironman.
He is therefore getting three benefits from his training, the fitness and strength gains, the heat acclimatisation and because he notes how much he eats and drinks and what effect it has on his performance. He learns his fuelling requirements for each sport
The last session listed in the above image is one of Alan’s signature ones and is a fairly special sight to behold.
So what are you waiting for? Go get the turbo out and get that session done.
Alan is one of 6 athletes I wrote about in the Free Kona Report that you can download here. He’s qualified for Kona 6 times and made it onto the podium twice on the Big Island
Alan is posting every session he does on his blog on the way to chasing a world Ironman title and you can follow his progress and see his specific sessions here