Today is my first half Ironman in over 10 years. Even though my training has been more about improving my health than my fitness, I’m excited to have built back up to long course triathlon and I’m looking forward to many more to come. The following is an overview of my training, gear, and race nutrition plan.
I’ve been exclusively following the Maximum Aerobic Function (MAF) Method of training in an effort to build my aerobic system while minimizing stress on my body so I can simultaneously improve my health. Normally I would “build” up to my primary race with periods of high intensity training. However, I decided to scratch that this year to prioritize health over fitness. Accordingly, all my workouts are done with a focus on keeping my heart rate below MAF (180 minus my age). After my marathon training, I have been balancing my triathlon training more equally between biking and running with a little swimming thrown into the mix. A good week of training for me would look like:
- 2 x Fasted Morning Run Sessions of 5-7 miles
- 2 x Fasted Morning Bike Sessions on the trainer of 40-60min
- 1 x Long run session of 10-14 miles
- 1 x Long bike session of 40-60 miles (sometimes followed with a 4-8 mile run)
- 2-3 x swim session of 20-30 minutes
My swim sessions were mostly in the evenings after work when I was feeling good and had the time. Since I am a former competitive high school swimmer, I’m not as concerned about my ability to complete the 1.2 mile distance so my swim sessions were more about maintaining my form and “feel” for the water. Swimming is like a golf swing – you need to do it consistently. Occasionally I would do a longer ocean swim with the Triathlon Club of San Diego to get more experience with open water ocean swimming.
In addition to the above, I also try to stay active when I’m in the office.
Honestly, sometimes I’m a little embarrassed about my lack of gear know
ledge. I am definitely not a gear-head triathlete that knows about the latest tech. My philosophy is I’m going to make far more performance gains by focusing time/money on my diet, health and fitness rather than the latest tech. Therefore, my gear bag is pretty basic:
Transition Bag – Race morning usually requires a little walk/bike to get to the transition area so an easy way to carry everything in the wee hours of the morning is essential. Transition bags are designed to hold wetsuits, multiple pairs of shoes, bike helmets, bike pumps, etc. Mine is a basic version from TYR. I’ll pack it up a day or two before to minimize stress on race morning. I just need to grab my bag and go.
Tri Short/Top – Clothes that can go from start to finish in a triathlon are essential and comfort is critical for long course races. I’m currently a fan of 2XU. It dries quickly and the shorts have the right padding for the bike without feeling like a diaper on the run.
Sunglasses – I had enough eye problems as a kid that I don’t want to muck with contacts and putting stuff in my eye. Therefore, I need prescription sunglasses that allow for a fairly strong prescription. Rudy Project sunglasses have prescription inserts that do just that. The outer, non-prescription lens on the pair I have changes based on the brightness so I can also use them like straight-up glasses in low light.
Wetsuit – Besides making an athlete faster, warmer and safer, a wetsuit isn’t required for a triathlon. I have a TYR Hurricane Cat 1 that I have come to love (after learning how to get it on correctly over this lanky 6’5″ frame). For a full sleeve wetsuit it provides ample shoulder mobility so my swim stroke isn’t constricted.
Goggles – Because I don’t wear contacts and I need to see the buoys on the swim course, I use a pair a prescription goggles. This is a great article on prescription goggles. I use AquaSphere Eagles that have interchangeable lenses.
Freshly Tuned Bike – My 2004 Felt S25 will always have a special place in my heart. This is the bike I rode in my 2005 Coeur d’Alene Ironman. I don’t think I will ever be able to part with this bike even when I eventually replace it. Before this race I put on a new pair
of tires because my other ones were getting thin and I’ve been plagued by fat tires recently. I also added a rear mount dual water bottle holder for extra hydration for the SoCal heat.
Bike Shoes – I wear Bontrager Hilos that are tri-specific bike shoes. Easy to put on with a single strap and mesh venting for quick drying.
Helmet – Nothing special here…just a standard Bell road biking helmet. Once I start getting faster then I will consider upgrading to an aero helmet.
Flat Kit – I really hope I don’t need this but I’ve got an extra tube, CO2 inflator, two CO2 cartridges and tire irons just in case.
Running Shoes – I’m a believer in minimalist footwear and allowing the foot to work as designed without interfering with too much support or cushion. I love Skora shoes and I’m currently using their Tempo model. I’ve also added some elastic laces so they are easy to slip on while still fitting snuggly.
Race Belt – The fastest way to put on a race number while running out of T2.
Other Misc. Items
- Swim cap
- Timing chip
- Socks – TBD…13.1 miles is a little too far to go with no socks
- Hat – for sun protection on the run
- Body Glide
- Bike pump and tools
- Small towel
- Headphones (pre-race)
- USAT Membership Card
I’ve been training my body to more efficiently use stored body fat for fuel so I don’t need to rely on sugary gels and exogenous calories. However, I’m still going to need some amount of nutrition to maintain performance but I prefer to use healthier alternatives than what is typically offered on the course. I’m planning to take in all my solid foods on the bike because digesting a large calorie intake on the run is usually a challenge.
- Two water bottles with a mix of coconut water and regular water.
- One small water bottle with a chia seed slurry made with coconut water, a little honey and sea salt
- 3 packets of Vespa – These are only 18 calories a piece but they have a peptide that helps the body use fat for fuel. These are like magic. I’ll take one about 30 minutes before the swim start and then another one every two to three hours.
- 2-3 blueberry Phive Bars – This is a whole foods bar that is made locally with a mixture of fruit and nuts.
The weather forecast is for sun with a temperature close to 90. Gotta love SoCal! Its going to be a hot one! You can watch a live stream of the finish line and track me HERE. I’m bib 465. I’m so stoked for this race!