Road to Kona 2010 Week Seven: Resting and Racing (26/7/2010 – 1/8/2010)

This week’s analysis is a little bit different. There’s not much training to discuss and there’s a good chance you’ve heard enough about the ITU Long Distance World Championship. I promise I’m moving on after this and today’s focus is the relevance of that race for Kona.

Week seven began with plans for a hard four day training block, a mini taper and then turn up and race. After two days that idea was fading. I’d managed a day of long training and one of intense training and was feeling tired for it. By the third morning I lacked the motivation or energy to head out the door.

I started Wednesday failing to make a choice. Sitting in training kit I studied plans and looked over advice from friends on how best to race the O3 distance. By lunch I’d not trained, but finally made the decision to race the ITU event properly. There was more value being rested and recovered and testing my current fitness. Lessons could be learnt that taking another training week would never show.

Feeling guilty I reduced my planned training load and followed it by not even meeting the newly set taper plan. Poor sleep and the general level of fatigue I’d accumulated in the past few weeks was still catching up with me. Effectively I’d gone from a typical heavy training week to an incredibly light taper. The last four days before the race were levels of rest I’ve not tried before.

Changes like these make me nervous. I was stepping out of my usual tapering territory and into the unknown. Clearly I wasn’t going to lose significant fitness in that time, but the risk with inactivity is you stiffen up and lose some form. Not desirable with a major race over a tough course ahead.

The results were good though – I turned up on race day and put in a performance I’m happy with. The race was a perfect test of the first six weeks of Kona training and signs are good. By stepping back, recovering and racing hard I’ve given myself a confidence boost and a lot of ideas for the next block of training.

The numbers

  Time (hours) Distance (km) Distance (miles)
Swim 3 10 6.2
Bike 11 313 194.5
Run 5 65 40.4
Gym 1    
Totals 20 388 241.1

The good

Last week there were two good pieces of training. Obviously the race was one, but the other was a bike turbo session. I’ve spent a couple of years successfully dodging the indoor trainer, but finally had to give in. The session was less than two hours and simply two 20 minute threshold efforts. That was it.

Why is that good? Firstly I learnt that the turbo isn’t as boring as I remembered. It’s not as engaging as the road and you do need music to get through, but it’s fine. Secondly I was reminded that it can give you is a very effective workout. No point in the two hours felt wasted and whilst my performance wasn’t at its best I definitely worked hard.

The race itself was a significant training session and confidence booster. In particular the run is very pleasing with pace averaging out around 4:17 per kilometre. That’s very close to 3 hour marathon pace and it felt comfortable. It leaves me speculating about the potential to break 3:10 or even 3:05 for the marathon at Kona.

The bike wasn’t stellar, but was solid and I’ll take that now. I always stated biking was in maintenance whilst I worked on running and the result shows it. The performance was where I might expect it, certainly no worse than in Lanzarote. My pace was roughly a 5:30 Ironman bike split on an especially tough course. Definitely a positive.

The bad

Those swim numbers aren’t making me happy. You could almost argue the race result is a positive given recent swim volume. I’m still under-performing and it needs work. In this race my positioning and start proved flawed (as they did in kona last year). As usual once I’d settled in and had space I could build to a decent pace, but I’m playing catch-up through half the swim.

I can’t afford to swim a 1:09 in Kona again and we won’t even have swimskins to help us this year. I need to be spending a lot more time on this area and making real in roads to performance. I think I’ll revisit this topic in the coming weeks and look at what it’s going to take to get me swimming well.


I’ve learnt a few points over the last week. Firstly was how much fatigue I’d built through running. I feel fresher after the race than I did before! With the coming week being about recovery I should hit my final Kona preparation raring to go. Then I need to carefully watch for signs that I’m pushing past my limits.

I reinforced my certainty that my training needs a weekly bike threshold session. With cycling becoming the main focus I must be strict on how I train. Less time spent just riding more time spent in specific sessions. I got strong on the bike by riding hard a lot in New Zealand and Lanza. Balancing that with run training is the task for me.

I also confirmed that the run training I’d been doing has worked. Both the pace and the effort during the race felt manageable and I was able to push harder towards the end. I possibly was a little short on nutrition midway through, but it was a minor point and I got past it with minimal impact.

I’ll be continuing my run approach with slightly lower volume (no more 100 mile weeks prior to Kona) and a little more hill and speed work to come. As I’ve stated the real challenge will be effectively training both running and cycling. For the next block I’ll allow cycling to take the priority and running will step back if needed.

Other than this I obviously need to return to a structured and regular swim program. I’ve got away with a few weeks of general lethargy about pool time, but that needs to change now. There’s time to do some good work between now and October and if I’m serious about improving on my Kona performance the swim needs to go well. No more excuses.

The rest of this week is about getting moving again, putting myself back on track with sensible eating and being fresh for real training next Monday. The emphasis is rest above all else. Any training I do is short and easy, but the recovery is long and hard.

Ironman Training Library

From nutrition to pacing - a collection of CoachCox blog posts focused specifically on Ironman training and racing.