January has seen my first proper return to Ironman training in almost 2.5 years and with a big goal I’m really motivated, the hard job at this stage with almost 8 months to go to race day is to not get carried away and do too much too early. I am slowly getting back into the routine of regular sessions and training. For years now I have kept a training diary for my own reference. It’s useful to look back on patterns over weeks, months and years. It’s often impossible to see the big picture when you are living the details every day, a diary shows a bigger perspective on things over a longer period of time. After seeing Alan Ryan’s idea to post every session he does along the way in his attempt to not only qualify for Kona but to win his age group there I was fascinated and have been stalking his training log page with great interest for the last two months. I am shamelessly going to copy his idea (the training log one, not winning the age group in Kona) and along with regular blog updates on my progress I will post my own training diary here hopefully on a weekly basis. I will post it in a separate category which can be found at the top of the site here.
So with that said lets get onto the good stuff.

Chasing Kona eBook available

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

Read about how I overcame all of the odds and discovered what it would take to get to the Ironman World Championships – my eBook is now available to buy as an eBook on Amazon UK, Amazon US, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes

It is also available as a paperback at Wheelworx.

This month it’s very bare bones stuff as I wasn’t expecting to be publishing this. I normally just keep track of the numbers for my own reference. Training started on Monday the 18th of January. For the first 17 days of the months I had done a total of just over 9 hours of what I would call just staying active as opposed to what I what I would consider serious training. November and December had something like 20-25 hours each month of mostly easy running.

One of the things that allows us fit in the training hours required is not just the flexibility of work hours but more importantly having a structure in place that allows us fit in what will take essentially as many hours as another job. Monday and Tuesday are our “weekend” as we work Saturday and Sunday’s, normally from 11 or 12 to 6. So we can fit in a couple of hours training before work. On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I work late until 9pm but don’t start until about 1pm so have a every morning to train.

We will spend the next 8-9 months working on building a big engine but at the moment the chassis is so weak that a big engine would rip it apart. First we need to strengthen the body to be capable of handling the massive load of IM training. My biggest weakness is my back. I had back surgery in early 2013 and this is my first full return to Ironman training since then. I did 2 Ironman races last year but I wasn’t particularly fit and they hurt a lot as a result. I swore after the last one that I wouldn’t do one untrained again.
At the moment my back is sore and weak, in truth it’s my own fault as I’ve been slack about doing the strength and conditioning exercises for the last few months. To kick start the process and really sort it out we will work with John Belton of No.17 PT.

John is the best S&C coach I know and we have worked with him over the last 3-4 years. Today we start with an hour with him.

Week 1

Monday 18: 1:00 (1) 

S&C 1:00 JB

This session with John was a lot of mobility and body weight exercises. I’m a long way off being able to lift a barbell at the moment. I can’t even bend over correctly.

Tuesday  2:15 (1)

Bike 2:15 55k. This session was mostly easy aerobic riding with 6×6 minutes of overgear work.

Wednesday 20 2:10 (2) Work 1-9 8 hours

Run AM 1:30 16k

Run PM :40 7k

This is my first double run day in a long time and was as a result of circumstance rather than planning, I needed to get home from work as someone else had borrowed the van. The morning one is a staple of ours, it’s a hard hilly route in the foothills of the Dublin mountains. I have memories of doing it in about 71 minutes a few years ago so 1:30 seems woefully slow. To be honest I’m just glad to be back training, at this stage the times are unimportant so I’m not concerned with being so far off where I was. The evening run was an easy jog home from work.

Thursday 21 1:50 (2) work 1-9 8 hrs

Swim 1:00 2600m

100’s 1:51,54,52,52,52,51,53,51,52,

150’s 2:50,55,55,56

This was in a 25 meter pool and as it was my first swim in over 6 months. The times are both positive and not so positive. The consistency and pacing is good the very slow speed not so much. But if I was fast enough today I wouldn’t be aiming for a race in September.

Run :50 8k easy

Friday 22 3:00 (2) Work 1-9  8 hours

Swim 1:00 2500m

Bike 2:00 45k mostly easy with 15 minutes big gear work on the flat.

Saturday 23 :50 (1) Work 11-6  7 hours

Run 10k :50

We ran an easy 5k warm up and then ran the Parkrun. Times are improving and I’m focusing on the improvement as opposed to where I remember them being.

Parkrun 20:11

Sunday 24 3:05 (1) work 11-6  7 hours

Bike 3:05 76k (24.6avg) today’s ride included 3×12 big gear intervals on the flat. Our main focus for the first couple of months is to first reintroduce the training frequency and build both fitness and strength. The big gear work on the bike works really well for me and I tend to recover quickly from it so can do a good bit.

Total Weeks Hours/sessions 14:10 (10)

Swim 2:00 5100m (2)

Bike  7:20 176k (3)

Run  3:50 41k (4)

S&C 1:00 (1)

Monthly Accu Hours/sessions 23:55 (19)

Swim 2:00 5100m (2)

Bike 11:10 263k (6)

Run 9:45 106k (10)

S&C 1:00 (1)


All in all that’s a good first week back at it. Everything is slow and the back needs a lot of work but we are dealing with a process we know and understand, we’ve made this journey twice before and I’m settling into my comfort zone.


Week 2 

Monday 25 1:50 (2) work 2 hours

Swim 1:05 3000m

S&C :45 John Belton

The sessions with John are painfully slow. They are all the sort of exercises I hate. I am inherently impatient and want to get straight into the fun stuff, the lifting. John knows that I wouldn’t last one session though and he’s building the foundation that I will need when things get hard. It’s why we come into him, we trust him. I’ll suck it up and do the work.

Tuesday 26 work 4 hours 

Off training
Wednesday 27 1:30 (1) Work 1-9  8 hours

Run 1:30 16k hills I was tired for this run, same loop as last week and same time. God I miss being fit.
Thursday 28 2:10 (2) Work 1-9 8 hours

Swim 1:05 3000m

The plan with the swimming is to be doing 4000 meter swims by week 3 so hitting 3k this week is grand. I incorporate drills into almost every swim I do. I think working on volume, frequency and technique at the moment is all I need to bring the swim on. I’ll worry about speed and strength work once I’ve a good solid month or 6 weeks done and I’m sure I’m structurally right.

Bike 1:05 31k turbo 20min big gear work. First time on a turbo in about a year. It’ll take a couple of sessions to get back into the headspace needed for the longer sessions.
Friday 29 1:45 (2) Work 9:30-9  12 hours

Bike 1:30 44k turbo 6×5 min @ Olympic pace

Run :15 3k on the treadmill straight off the bike. Quite enjoyed this session. I did this one in the shop in the afternoon when it was quiet. I have a treadmill, bike on a turbo and a set of weights set up out the back so I can get in some training when I’m under pressure in work and can’t get outdoors.
Saturday 30 1:45 (1) Work 11-6  7 hours

Run 19k 1:45 (Parkrun 19:51) A pb for this course for this year. It’s good to see the times dropping and my placing improving.
Sunday 31 3:35 (1) Work 11-6  7 hours

Bike 3:35 91k 4x15min BG on flat.

Weekly Totals hours/sessions/work  12:35 (9) Work 48 hours

Swim 2:10 6000m (2)

Bike 6:10 166k (3)

Run 3:30 38k (3)

S&C :45 (1)

Monthly Accu hours/sessions 36:30 (28)

Swim 4:10 11,100m (4)

Bike 17:20 429k (9)

Run 13:15 144k (13)

S&C 1:45 (2)

That’s more hours than I did in December and the first 17 days of January combined. The times, speeds, paces etc are slow but I need to have faith in the plan and keep focusing on the process and not where I am now or where I need to be in 8 months.


Chasing Kona eBook available

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

Read about how I overcame all of the odds and discovered what it would take to get to the Ironman World Championships – my eBook is now available to buy as an eBook on Amazon UK, Amazon US, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes

It is also available as a paperback at Wheelworx.