The Outlaw Triathlon Race Plan – Death or Glory

I’ve made many excuses this week, managing expectations a little too well. By Wednesday I’d even convinced myself and was ready to consign the Outlaw to training; no taper, no rest and no recovery. The following day’s ride made me revisit the question – testing my pacing plan, the numbers were good, but my legs felt tight and sore. I believed I could hit my target, perhaps I should put more into that goal.

The week before had not gone to plan. With a second forty day block of cycling finished my training load had rapidly dropped. Unintentionally I’d already tapered and with it came the fear of lost fitness. The Pyrenean peak in my Performance Management Chart was long gone. I knew actual performance mattered most, but still there were doubts. Train through and fitness would grow again, rest and it would decline; would I even be in good form?

Pre Outlaw Triathlon Bike Performance Management Chart

I put the graphs aside and went by how I felt. Taking the positives from Thursday’s bike I planned two easy days leading into the race. I would be very well tapered.

The excuses are done. This is the race plan.


Survival has always been my intention. Place myself near the front and hope I’ll be towed round the lake. A trip to the pool early in the week knocked my confidence, but swimming in Holme Pierrepont yesterday felt better. It won’t be my best swim, but I’m assured it’s fast so perhaps I can avoid a disaster. I’ll keep the effort controlled and attempt to let others do the work.

I hope I can make it out in an hour, but wouldn’t be surprised to be slower.


This is where my race begins. If I want anything from the day it’s a good measure of my cycling. I expect to see progress.

The Powertap and disc cover are on the bike, I’ll be riding by power; my Garmin will display watts, heart rate, time and nothing else. My aim is to cap intensity at 250 watts. I’ve never raced at this level before. Death or glory, though I hope the alternative isn’t death.

Outlaw Triathlon - Bike Pacing Test Set

Power in training is higher and my test set demonstrated I could comfortably hold 250 watts for three sets of twenty minutes. The chart shows that on each rep my power is neatly on target. An hour at 250 watts split across intervals is not the same as racing for five hours at that intensity. This is a stretch, 240 watts would be a safer choice, but where’s the fun in that?

I’m not concerned about the time, but knowing I’ve pushed harder on the bike is important. I believe I can sustain and fuel that effort, the real question is whether I can run after?


My sandbagging has centred around running. There is no doubt I am not in shape to match some of my past performances. The technique work I’ve done with Kinetic Revolution is helping, but good technique can only go so far on minimal training. My legs lack the resilience to push a marathon. Run/walk is the safest option.

I tried death or glory in Kona and it was painful. I will leave the recklessness of the bike behind and adopt a controlled, conservative approach. Aid stations are at least a mile apart so using them to time my walks should work perfectly. That gives me up to nineteen breaks over the marathon and more time to take in nutrition.

Based on training pace and the flat nature of the course my optimistic estimate is a sub-3:30 marathon. Should I feel in risk of injury at any point I will opt to walk more, but if I feel good on the last lap I will run. The lack of training leaves the outcome open.

I’m racked and ready. I have a plan. I’ve done everything that can be done. One way or another tomorrow is going to be an interesting day. Now it’s time to relax.


  • Matt

    Good luck Russ! Will be keeping track online

  • Hi, Good luck with the Outlaw im doing IMW in September and sounds like we have the same outlook although will be hapy just to make the swim cutoff as its in the sea, anyway good luck mate

  • Couple of questions: what IF are you riding the bike at then? What TSS do you anticipate? (Both of which are highly influenced by how fast the course will be — obviously riding at an IF of .8 for ~4.5 hours at IM Germany is a lot different to riding an IF of .8 for ~6 hours at IM UK!) I’m not familiar with the Henley course so have no idea how fast or slow the course is.

    3:30 is only one minute per mile slower than the more typical 3 hour IM marathon for you, can you pull that off if you ride at such a high intensity? Or is your FTP a lot higher than I think it is? 🙂

  • Maryka,

    Those are questions I’ve pondered a lot. Actually looked at the Rich Strauss/Endurance Nation Power Racing Calculator spreadsheet earlier. I think it’s around IF .8 and if this course is fast as claimed should bring me in comfortably under 5 hours. Probably TSS around the 300 mark. The run isn’t going to be easy either way, so wanted to test my biking, then see how the run falls after.

    Run/walk for sure, but then I don’t really know the pace I’ll actually be able to hold and have gone with typical training paces to help guide me. Bike could certainly mess that up!

    Watts are up over last year and FTP is higher, based on recent MAP test and ride data. But definitely pushing my limits with this target. Hopefully it won’t result in a complete detonation on the run. Very much a case of believe numbers are better and using the race to test myself. Willing to risk a terrible run for the lesson (I say that before I find myself having to walk 10 miles).


  • Checking back – Ironman New Zealand 2010 I race around IF .79, TSS over 310 and ran 3:18. I take some hope from that! 🙂

    I was of course in much better run fitness back then.

  • Snow

    I love gadgets and formulas yet hate racing with them. What is IF and TSS?

  • IF = Intensity Factor, a measure of how hard you were riding relative to your threshold. Higher IF means harder riding at higher powers in general.
    TSS = Training Stress Score, a way of assessing the impact of training on your fitness. TSS = IF * Duration. Harder and/or longer riding produces higher TSS.

    So both give you some account of how tough a ride is and how much fatigue it produces. For Ironman racing there will be upper limits above which you expect there to be a notable impact on run performance. Many of those walking the Ironman marathon will have either made nutritional or intensity mistakes during the bike. Fair to say I’m planning to push my limit tomorrow on the basis I won’t be running well anyway. It’s definitely taking a risk.