The training was tough! But a breeze compared to what I’d been through personally. I didn’t want to just survive and get through the Ironman. I wanted to complete it as fast as I could. I thought I’d set myself a target. After being inspired by Geraint Thomas’ (my hero) winning the Tour de France the year before, I thought I’d set a lofty goal of trying to secure an age group Kona spot – the birthplace of Ironman and where the Ironman world championships are held. The holy grail of triathlon. To do this a felt a time of 10 hrs 30 mins was needed.
Before getting into triathlon I’d been a fairly competitive runner. I had a 5k PB of 16.27 which I set as a 15 year old. I soon got distracted by football though and gave up running to play semi-professionally. I always promised myself that I’d go back to running after football and at 35 I returned, almost beating my 5k PB at 39 years of age, running 16.36. As I got older I decided to try longer distances running a half marathon PB of 1.15 and a marathon PB of 2.47.
Gut Issues During Running
Unfortunately, I started to develop stomach issues during these races, which really frustrated me as I was training really well, but when it got to the races the pain would get too much and I would have to stop. That’s when I decided to go into triathlon (sprint and Olympic distance). My logic was, the race can still last for 2 hours but the run only lasts 40 minutes. Unfortunately after time the stomach issues returned again. I saw a large number of physios to try and sort the problem but it always returned. I knew this was going to be a problem when taking on this Ironman challenge so I decided that if a physio can’t sort it then maybe it’s more of a gut health problem rather than a muscular problem.
That’s when I spoke to Charlotte at Aliment and PRP Supplements. I’d seen the Intensive Training Probiotic Complex on social media and did a bit of research into the product and was impressed with the studies. After speaking with Charlotte we decided to go with the probiotic but also decided to add the Omega Max Pure as an anti-inflammatory and vitamin D for bone health. It would prove to be a great decision and a pivotal moment in my training and races.
Training For Ironman
I always loved the research of training. There were so many different opinions, different books – Joe Friel’s Training Bible, Don Fink and Paul Newsome’s Swim Smooth and Jack Daniels’ Running Formula. I read them and decided to plan my own programme and coach myself. It was something I enjoyed and immersed myself in.
The training was divided into 3 phases. A BASE (start till 20 weeks from race), BUILD (20 weeks before race) and PEAK (10 weeks before race) phase.
The BASE phase would start with 2 swims a week (2 x30 mins), 3 bikes a week (2×1 hour & 1×2 hour) and 3 runs a week (1×30 mins, 1 x brick & 1x 45 mins long ) all at low intensity at zone 2 HR and slowly adding volume to the sessions, just building up the endurance. It was going to be a long 9 months of graft; I didn’t want to blow up months before the race.
In the BUILD phase I added 1 extra session to each discipline which was a threshold session. Swim (1 x easy, 1 x Technique, 1 x threshold) Bike (2 x easy, 1 x threshold, 1 x long building up to 4 hours) Run (1 x easy, 1 x brick, 1 x threshold, 1 x long building up to 1 hr 45 mins).
In the PEAK phase frequency remained the same but volume increased again for all long sessions. Swim (1 x easy, 1 x Technique, 1 x threshold) Bike (2 x easy, 1 x threshold, 1 x long building up to 6 hours) Run (1 x easy, 1 x brick, 1 x threshold, 1 x long building up to 2 hr 30 mins). Until 3 weeks before the race which would start the taper.
The PEAK phase was interrupted by an injury sustained to my ankle during a race. 3 weeks of running were missed as a result and had a detrimental effect on my running performance during Ironman.
The training was really tough! Feeling tired most of the time, but what surprised me the most was that I never got ill. When I was in demanding blocks of training I would find that I’d breakdown with a sore throat. It never happened this time.