For years I’ve maintained that Ironman is a “big picture” sport. I liken it to painting the gable end of a house. For a job like that you wouldn’t use a 1″ detail brush. Rather you would select the biggest paint roller you could manage. The roller wouldn’t work very well for the small details but it would get 95% of the work done.
If all you did to train for Ironman is a long bike, long run and a long swim and you do those every week you would most likely get through the distance just fine. Whether you ride easy or hard, hills or flat is much less important than the fact that you’ve spent 5-6 hours on your bike. The same goes for the run and the swim.
Of course there are sessions that are more effective than others but in essence if you focus on getting the the big “bread and butter” stuff done consistently you’ve gone a long way towards being successful.

Sometimes the small details can derail the big picture.

There is also the argument that you should do everything you can to maximise your race day performance. Aero bike, helmet, fast clothing, bike fit and race day nutrition. These are all the details. Some details are certainly more important than others, some save you more time but in essence they contribute a very small amount when compared to what a lot of training will do for your overall speed.

I’ve been playing around with my bike position recently. I found it hard to get it right ever since having back surgery back in 2014. I think I finally have it mostly right now and I’m seeing better speeds and feeling much more powerful than I have done in a number of years. I was still tweaking (not twerking) the position to try to perfect it and I was feeling like I was a bit low in the saddle on a couple of the rides so I decided to try a small change during the week and raised the saddle by about 10mm. I did a couple of sessions and it felt fine.

Monday saw me set out to do one of my favourite run sessions. It was a 2.5 hour run which was to include 4 x 15 minutes hard off a 3 minute jog recovery. I was just starting the third interval when I felt something go at the top of my hamstring. Right at the point where it connects to the glute. I kept on running trying to decide if I should push through and get the session done or if in doing so I’d make matters worse. The pain continued to grow and I was starting to run with a hitch in my stride as I tried to alter my gait to lessen the soreness and run around the injury.

With the pain was worsening I decided to pull the plug. I slowed to an easy jog and turned for home. But as the pain subsided to a dull ache I started to doubt my choice to back off and after a couple of minutes of easy running I decided to try to push again. Just to be sure. As soon as I did the pain worsened and the hitch in my stride turned to a proper limp. Satisfied that I had actually done some damage and that I would only make matters worse by continuing I backed off and jogged home.

It was only a couple of days later while doing a customers bike fit in the shop that it clicked and I made the connection between raising my saddle and pulling the hamstring. Having the saddle too high would be a common cause of irritation or injury at exactly the point where I had an issue, where the hamstring connects at the glute. I went back to my previous saddle height and after a sports massage and a couple of days of easy biking and swimming and no running I was fine and made a full return to training.

I guess it’s easy to be dismissive about how important the small details are when you’re dealing with something as big as Ironman. It’s also easy to think you know everything when you’ve been involved in the sport in so many different ways for so many years. As a specialist retailer, bike fitter, coach and athlete. However I was reminded yet again this week that despite being involved in triathlon for over 15 years I am not yet immune to making silly, amateur mistakes.

Luckily that same experience that didn’t stop me making the mistake did however allow me identify the cause of the problem once it had arisen and I was able to correct it very quickly.

It’s good to be reminded every so often that I’m only 10mm away from being a complete tool.

It’s a humbling sport.

Anyway lets get on with how the training went.


Monday 31 1:30 (1)

Run 1:30 17k

This is the session that I talked about in the introduction to the post. I got through two of the long intervals before pulling up.


Tuesday 1

Off

  • Energy 7/10
  • Motivation 7/10
  • Work —
  • Sleep 8 hours. good

Wednesday 2 2:25 (2)

Swim 1:20 3900m
Run 1:05 12k

Easy run today to test the leg and see if it’s ok after Mondays session. I could still feel it but I’d only rate it at maybe 2-3/10 and didn’t worsen at all while running easy so I was happy to do the hour Ais had me down for. When I say happy I was actually knackered and dragging my arse through the session and constantly fighting the urge to just go for coffee and cake.

  • Energy 6/10
  • Motivation 5/10
  • Work 9 hours
  • Sleep 8 hours. Disturbed and broken. Because of an over indulgence of desert. Again. I really need to sort my shit out

Thursday 3 4:00 (2)

AM Bike 3:30 84k
PM Bike :30 13k easy commute

  • Energy 6/10
  • Motivation 8/10
  • Work 10 hours
  • Sleep 8h40

Friday 4:00 (2)

Swim 1:25 4100
PM bike run brick. 2:35 68.5k. (Bike 1:45 57.5k. Run :50 11k)
Session notes: (bike 30, run 15) x 3 times treadmill and turbo
Bike 15 easy, 15 threshold, run 15 threshold
I had the treadmill set to 12kph 5/min/k but it read as 4:40/k on the Garmin. Felt more like 4:40/k effort so that’s what I’m going to tell myself that it was. Either way I felt really good on the runs and only felt ok on the bike. I think my power is still low.

  • Energy 6/10
  • Motivation 9/10
  • Work 6 hours.
  • Sleep 8 hours. Disturbed

Saturday 5 1:5 (1)

Run 1:25 16k

Parkrun 20:20 7th

Legs were tired and heavy and after the first 2k I just couldn’t maintain the pace/effort I’d started at despite it being almost exactly the same as I’ve been running for the first 2k as the last few weeks parkrun. I could definitely feel the fatigue and heaviness from last nights session in the legs.

  • Energy 8/10
  • Motivation 9/10
  • Work 6 hours
  • Sleep 8 hours. Good.

Sunday 6 6:00 (2)

AM Bike 5:35 160k
PM Bike :25 10k

  • Energy 7/10
  • Motivation 8/10
  • Work 5 hours
  • Sleep 6.5 good

  • Total 19:20 (10)
  • Swim 2:45 8000m (2)
  • Bike 11:45 324.5k (5)
  • Run 4:50 56k (4)
  • S&C —

The hours are ramping up now and there’s much less leeway to skip sessions particularly the important ones. The bike is the area that we are looking to work on over the next period as we feel it’s going to be key. Ais thinks that my run is in good shape but I think that she’s concerned that if the bike takes too much out of me I just wont be able to use my run fitness as I will have to work too hard on the bike.

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From smoker to back of the pack triathlete to the Ironman World Championships.

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