20 Weeks of Ironman Training: Building A Base & Winning The Open

I adapted the full 1 year Ironman training plan into a triathlon training plan specific to first timers. Available now!

It’s been a little while since my last post, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been training.

The last 8-9 weeks have been busy ones. Here’s a short list of what’s happened:

  1. My wife & I found a cute little fixer-upper
  2. We got a contractor and put in an offer
  3. Got the house, contractor bailed
  4. Somewhere in all this, I ran (and mega PR’ed) 10 miles… more on that later
  5. Began the CrossFit Open
  6. Got a new contractor
  7. I began my official 30 week Ironman training
  8. Closed on the house & began demo
  9. Had our 1 year anniversary
  10. Subsequently ate 1 year old cake
  11. Won the CrossFit Open (at my gym, PUSH511)

Oh, I worked a full time job like the rest of the world too.

In short, forgive my absence! Now, a little detail about at least the fitness related items above (a post to come on the house at some point).

Lets start with closing out my pre-training-training

I first made mention of my training for Ironman training back in November 2017. At the time, I hadn’t run more than 5 miles (ever), certainly hadn’t swam any notable distance, and didn’t even yet own a bike.

Over the course of the next 12 weeks, I blogged about my journey through pre-training, adjusting my goals through injury, and ultimately preparing to start my 30 week Ironman training program on March 5th.

I had originally set out to run a half marathon by the 5th, but with some setbacks, decided to simply run double digit miles, 10.

I had ran 10 miles once, stupidly. No training, no nothing.. just to see if I could. Naturally, I got hurt, and well, of course I did.

At the end of my prep training though, I ran 10 miles again. This time I managed to run it 23:31 faster(!) than the first time. That’s 2:21 per mile faster.

Let me put that into perspective, that’s the actual length of a 30 minute sitcom minus the commercials, and I had managed to chop that off a 10 mile time in 3 months. That was pretty cool.

I had also gathered an enormous amount of comfort in the pool, increasing my interval speeds, decreasing the number of strokes needed, and learned to control my breathing.

Lastly, I have made casual a 1.5 hour bike ride (~25 miles) on an indoor trainer (no downhill help 😐 ) with the help of only Netflix.

Needless to say, with a week off before the 5th (that I earned…), I felt prepared for the real deal. But before that really kicked in, I was in the middle of tackling another challenge, the CrossFit Open.

Winning the PUSH511 CrossFit Open on endurance training

For those that don’t know, the CrossFit open is a world wide event held every year as the first stage to qualifying for the CrossFit games. Over the course of 5

weeks, 1 workout per week is released, and athletes have from Thursday at 8pm to Monday at 8pm to complete the workout (as many tries as you want), and log a score.

Now, 99.9% of us have no shot in hell when it comes to advancing to even the second round (called Regionals), so we tend to make a big deal out of the open in smaller leaderboards. Things like our rank in our State, and for bragging rights purposes, even more importantly, our rank in our gym.

I entered the 2018 Open with relatively low expectations. I hadn’t been doing much CrossFit in recent months because endurance training had taken priority. Where for the last ~5 years I have been CrossFitting & lifting 5-6 days per week (sometimes more than one session at a time), in the 3 months leading up to the 2018 open, that was cut down to 2-3 days per week.

I also committed to only doing each open workout once, where in past years, I would repeat them 2, maybe 3 times to try to get a better score. This was mainly a strategy to avoid injury & maintain my endurance training schedule, if nothing else.

I had quite the battle with a good friend, Jarrett Smith, trading blows on each of the 5 workouts. Win some, lose some, all by pretty close margins, but ultimately, to my surprise, I came out on top.

Not only did I manage to come out on top in the gym, I landed myself in the 93rd percentile of the world. Post Ironman and a few straight months of dedicated CrossFit going into 2019, I hope to crack the top 95%.

1 month in to official Ironman training

I took a week off before March 5th to give my body a rest from the previously mentioned 10 mile PR, knowing that 30 weeks of ‘no excuses’ were coming up.

The program I’m following is broken up into 3, 10 week sections. 1 to build a base level of endurance fitness, one to build the mileage, and one to peak for the full race in September. This is the beginning of the base phase.

Luckily, the program eased me back into distance (particularly on the runs).

While this program is measured in time (for time management purposes), I generally divide the runs by a 7:30 mile pace for a target.

With this, the first week had me running relatively short distances (4, 2, 4, 6), slowly increasing to a few 8 milers on Sundays.

You can see the schedule for the last 4 weeks below

Starting 3/5/18
Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun
Swim Masters Masters
Bike :30 (QC) :30 1:00
Run :30 :15 :30 :45
Starting 3/12/18
Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun
Swim Masters Masters
Bike :30 (QC) :30 1:30
Run :30 :15 :45 1:00
Starting 3/19/18
Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun
Swim Masters Masters
Bike :30 (QC) :45 1:45
Run :45 :15 1:00 1:00
Starting 3/26/18
Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun
Swim Masters Masters
Bike :30 (QC) :30 1:30
Run :30 :15 :45 1:00

Soon all the runs (minus the brick on Wednesdays) will be 8+ miles, and the bike quickly approaches 2:30-3 hours, but I guess you could say that’s what I signed up for.The rest of the base phase isn’t so nice, however.

In closing…

One thing I plan to do for the sake of keeping my sanity in all this training, is sign up for some races that map well to my training.

That way, I can keep the distances that I need, but also adding a little extra fun to the equation as compared to simply running solo all the time.

For now though, I’m focused on the next 6 weeks to get through the base phase.

When the build phase starts, I know I’m inching even closer to my Olympic Triathlon, and my Ironman 70.3 in Ohio. Each of which will be huge accomplishments (and confidence builders) along this long road.

Until next time.