Jeff Thomas

My Reflections while on the pale blue dot

Ingredients for a successful Ironman

August 08, 2019

After completing the Ironman Boulder, several people have asked where to start. I will share my approach to training in this post. Remember, what works for me may not work for you. Whatever path you choose, consistent training is the key. If faced with a day where your training watch or power meter doesn't work, just do the training.

The 80/20 philosophy of Matt Fitzgerald best resonates with how I like to train. If you're curious, the book covers the evolution of endurance training. Although not unique, Matt has branded his approach to endurance training as the 80/20 method.

I learned about the 80/20 method in the book, 80/20 Running. However, Matt's latest book, 80/20 Triathalon, is now available. You don't have to know the mechanics of the program to benefit from it. The purchase of the training plan includes all the practical knowledge you need.

Start with a plan. Choose one of Matt's training plans. I chose Level 0 - Run and Bike HR.

The plan will explain how to use training intensities or how hard to train. I started with using heart rate (HR) for run and bike and lap time for swimming.

I later added a power measurement to my running using Stryd. I love it. Although I still wear a HR monitor, I now measure my running watts with a power meter.

Before I switched to using power on runs, I was familiar with using power on the bike. I wanted to buy the Garmin Vector 3 power meter pedals, but a manufacturing problem delayed their release date. Instead, I used HR for the bike.

In addition to the IM Plan, I also added a strength training supplement.

You also need a place to record and review your workouts. I recommend Training Peaks. I believe you get two free months when you purchase a training and strength plan from Matt's site.

You need a device to record your workouts. I use a Garmin Fenix 3. I have considered the Apple Watch, but because of battery life limitations, I recommend using a Garmin device. My wife uses the Garmin 735XT. For first time buyers, I recommend the Forerunner 935 or Forerunner 735XT.

A tri bike is nice to have but impractical for most. I used my road bike and attached aero bars instead. In the beginning, the muscles in your neck will fatigue but will strengthen over time.

If you do want a Tri specific bike, check out Canyon Bikes

A final piece of advice includes what to wear on race day. A fellow Ironman convinced me that comfort is the key. You may be on the course for close to 12 hours. I usually wear a race suit, but for the Ironman, I wore regular bike shorts and a jersey. For the run, I wore a comfortable wicking shirt and running shorts. I was happy with my decision.

Good luck with your training. Remember to enjoy the process and take it all in on race day!