Monday, February 1, 2016

Work Your Weakness

by Vince Matteo

What is your weakness? That's a question I often ask myself.

At the start of this season when I asked that question, I found the answer by looking through the results from my past races which show I am a weak cyclist.

When the topic of "workload" came up this month on EC, I immediately thought about a collection of swims, bikes, and runs, but I also thought about how I've tailored my training plan to focus on my weakness.

The following is an upcoming week:

MON: Bike 45 minutes, Run 15 minutes, Swim 60 minutes
TUE: Run 165 minutes, Bike 45 minutes
WED: Run 45 minutes, Swim 60 minutes
THURS: Bike 120 minutes, Run 30 minutes
FRI: Run 45 minutes, Swim 60 minutes
SAT: Bike 240 minutes, Run 30 minutes
SUN: Swim 60 minutes

If my math is correct, that's a 17-hour week.

Replicate that week for 24 weeks, adjust the duration of the swims, the brick on Monday, the long run on Tuesday and the long ride on Saturday and you have a pretty good view of my ironman training.

I consider this week to be quite challenging especially when I apply the following rules:

  1. Because it can take me up to 15 minutes to get in and out of my neighborhood, a ride of 75 minutes or less will be done on the trainer in order to maintain the quality of the workout.
  2. Indoor cycling sessions contain interval sets which focus on my weaknesses.
  3. All outdoor bike sessions are done in the big ring only (BRO).


  1. A 75 minute ride outside could have a number of stops and starts along with coasting opportunities but there's just no hiding on a trainer.
  2. The interval sets were focused on a wide cadence range and I left the trainer feeling like I had finished a solid workout.
  3. BRO rides... what can I say? Another parlor trick for sure but it was an effective way to get me out of the habit of searching for the granny gear at the first sign of resistance.

The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and after eight months of focused cycling, my wattage has increased, my average heart rate for holding "steady" watts has decreased, and my bike times are faster.

I think it's safe to say that focusing on my weakness has proved to be successful. And fortunately for me, I have a number of other weaknesses I can target for quite some time.

Vince is an experienced ironman competitor and multiple-time Kona-qualifer. You can follow him on his blog at and on Twitter @felog.
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