This week is week 16 of my 30 week Ironman training plan which means I’m officially into the 2nd half of the plan. That sentence is both scary and exciting in equal measure. I’m now closer to the end of the plan than the start! Embarking on week 1 of this plan way back in November the race felt an awfully long way away, now it feels frightening close. But now is not the time to panic, you must trust in the process and the plan you have chosen. But it is a good time to reflect for a moment on the progress you’ve made.
Strava tells the truth
Training for an Ironman is all consuming, it’s relentless, tiring, intense and just plain hard. Some weeks have felt great, others a washout. Work and life have very rudely got in the way on a number of occasions, times when you have to remind yourself that you’re doing this for fun and training isn’t your first priority even if secretly you wish it was. Despite feeling like I’ve missed a few sessions when I look back at my training log on Strava I’ve still been doing at least 6 hours training since the start and into double figures consistently now. Easily the most training I’ve ever done and I should remember how much of an achievement that is in itself having started a new job in January and with 3 little monsters at home.
What they don’t tell you about Ironman training however is that you’ll spend almost as long prepping food and washing/cleaning your kit as you do actually training. It really is never ending when you’re doing 3 sports and have 3 double training days a week, especially the washing. Perfect reason to buy more kit right?
The Ironman diet
It’s been interesting to observe the change in my body as I’ve gone through this first half of the plan, I think right now I’m probably the lightest I’ve been in at least 10 years. I started this training block on the back of 15 weeks of solid marathon training so was hardly out of shape. Despite this I think I’ve still lost 4-5kg already, I actually have some upper body muscle which is unheard of and this week I had to move one hole smaller on my belt. So if anyone is looking to lose weight I can thoroughly recommend the Ironman diet!
Although on the subject of diet I’ve had to adapt mine a little over the last few weeks. I was struggling with my gut, feeling bloated all the time and having a few alfresco poo’s. I realised I was reaching for the easy carbs whenever hungry and actually eating too much. Easy to slip into those habits when your training volume increases, so I’ve made a conscious effort to eat ‘good’ carbs like sweet potatoes more. Plus ensuring I’m eating more protein which is essential of course to recovery. Takes some planning and thinking about to make sure you go to work with a good selection of meals and snacks but it’s definitely making a difference to my performance in training.
It feels at this halfway mark in the training that the progress is now becoming visible, particularly with my swimming. If I look back at those early swims I was doing 2.05-2.10 per 100m, now I can happily do 1.35-1.40 per 100m. That’s massive and 100% due to joining my local tri club and swimming with them twice a week. I’m really not a big fan of the pool but getting in a lane with 4 other people to do the sets makes it a whole lot more tolerable.
I’ve also discovered the delights of a mid ride cake stop and found one excellent cafe that does a mean flat white, amazing how many of my routes go past it!
The endurance is building, my confidence is on the up, now just need some really consistent training weeks to build on this foundation and in particular getting those long weekend rides in. Maybe even a race or two for a bit of fun.