Wednesday, February 18, 2009

How to Determine Training Volume?

So, last year my goal for the year was to finish a Half Ironman race. Sure, as the season progressed, I started to determine reasonable time goals, but ultimately my goal was to finish and I raced conservatively to ensure that I would make it to the finish line. The broader goal of the season was to determine whether I thought that I could physically complete an Ironman and I figured that I would see how I felt after the Half Ironman before deciding on whether to pursue Ironman in 2009. I actually utilized Don Fink’s “Be Iron Fit” ‘Just Finish’ Ironman training plan to train for the Half Ironman because I wanted to see if I could handle the training volume.

Fast Forward to February 2009 and I am registered for IMFL and I have picked most of my races to get me ready for the big race. I feel great about my goal and I am actually excited about the training …but this is where things get hard.

My goal for IMFL is to finish strong, but I am not attaching a time goal to the race. However, after a year of triathlon training and base building I feel like I have built a strong enough base to follow an Intermediate or Competitive plan (terms used in Don Fink’s book), but and this is a big BUT, I don’t want to burn out or get injured. Also, I have 2 Half Iron distance races on the calendar, at least one Olympic (if not two), and I will probably throw a Sprint or two in just for fun. These races will be great practice for IMFL, but I am still struggling with the appropriate training volume for this point in the season, for the other races I have on deck, and for my level of fitness … all given my overall goal for IMFL.

I am struggling with questions like whether to taper before the races or to treat them as long training days … do I really race the races or pace myself (especially in the half iron distance races)? I know I can race the Sprints and Olympics with fairly quick recovery times, but racing the Halfs is another story.

I trained for the Longhorn HIM for 24 weeks (granted there was some base building in there) and right now I am following a 13 week plan to prepare for the Lonestar Quarter and the Gulf Coast Tri Half – the problem I am facing is that there are so many plans to choose from with varying time demands and I want to pick the *right* one, and I am struggling to know how to do that.

Without a coach, maybe the confidence that I am doing the *right* thing will just have to come with time and logging the hours. I was never one to “just pass” in school and I think I look at my training the same way. Just because my goal is just to finish, doesn’t mean I want to short change my training. I want to finish strong and I want to find the plan or plans that will get me there … and right now, for me that means aiming for the plan with the most hours and using other plans as needed to tweak the plan to fit my needs.

It just seems like it would be so much easier if someone just told me what to do! :)

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