Monday, February 1, 2016


Our Favorite Workouts: Ironman-Specific Running

During their ironman training most athletes include long runs and short fast runs. Some athletes have time to add in a bit of hill work too. Something that’s missing from a lot of programs is the medium-long run that includes ironman-specific pace work.

Our Favorite Workouts

Here are some of our favorite workouts to implement throughout the year.

“Training Through” Races

“The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it” -Arnold Glasgow

Further or Faster - The Midseason Dilemma

With the spring season starting up, many athletes will begin to wonder, “How much base training is enough?” or “When is the right time to start some faster workouts?” In terms of the Annual Training Plan, athletes may wonder if they should continue the Base phase or enter the Build phase of training.

What Type of Athlete Are You?

“It takes Different Strokes to rule the world” – Different Strokes theme

While I had to confess my complete lack of qualification in talking on last month’s subject of time management, things have come full circle this month to a topic that I am intimately familiar with: the relationship between training load and top performance.

Ironman 70.3 Texas (Galveston)

Drawing on Endurance Corner's collective years of experience and access to an extended network of some of the most knowledgeable racers, we wanted to provide our best recommendations for approaching some of the biggest races around the world.

Profile provided by Justin Daerr

Travel and Accommodations: Galveston is located on the southeast side of the greater Houston, Texas area. If you are flying into Houston for the race, you have two options of airports: Hobby or Intercontinental. Hobby is a major Southwest Airlines hub and is located on the southeast side of town, making for quick access to Galveston Island. If you fly into Intercontinental, you will be on the north side of town and have to navigate through quite a lot of Houston traffic. Unless you are flying Frontier (no bike fees, but lands at Intercontinental)***, I recommend getting a Southwest flight ($75.00 bike fees as of 2013, no bag fees).

Galveston has endless accommodation options because of tourism. The race itself is located in Moody Gardens and it has a host hotel on site. This would easily be the most convenient, but if you have a large group, consider a beach house rental as a cheap and effective alternative. If you want to stay in a nice, historic hotel I would check out the Hotel Tremont or Hotel Galvez. Both are probably the most expensive options on the island, but very nice. Outside of that, there are countless chain motel/hotel options to consider.

Absorbing a Training Camp

Training camps can be an incredibly useful weapon in your training arsenal. When compared to the regular training block, they can be thought of as akin to the difference between a semi-automatic rifle and a musket. While both fire a single bullet with comparable effect, the difference in load time between the two means you can get a lot more done in a given time with the semi-auto.

Decluttering for Camp

I think of training camps as our opportunity to declutter, reduce the bloat and do the work. As you approach camp, the week or two before camp is the perfect time to enjoy the reduced training time and reduce your bloat.

Season Benchmarking

We recently hosted a small webinar for EC coaches featuring Coach Alan Couzens that covered season benchmarking. A podcast of the presentation with corresponding powerpoint slides is now available for free.


Our podcasts, presentations and virtual seminars

Thoughts on Recovery

Recovery is one of the most important pieces to endurance sports success but it's also frequently misunderstood. What does true recovery really entail?

Current Columnists

All the articles from our current featured coaches and writers:

Alan Couzens
Gordo Byrn
Justin Daerr
Marilyn Chychota

Smart Season Planning

Scott Molina and I have a joke that we say to each other, usually before we do something silly... "We know more now." It goes like this...

"I live in Central Florida and have signed up for a mountainous Ironman next August."
"How are you going to train for that?"
"We know more now!"

"I live in Upstate New Your and have signed up for my first Ironman next February."
"How are you going to train for that?"
"We know more now!"

By the way, if you happen to fit the above, then I'm not teasing you. Scott and I are making fun of the fact that we all dream up insane ideas that seem good at the time (normally six to ten months out from the event date).

Triathlon is tough enough, even when you do it right.

Fatigue Curves for the Kona Athlete

In my last article in our How to Qualify series I looked at how some typical benchmark workouts may progress across the course of the qualifying year for an athlete who is on track for a Kona slot. In this piece, we’re going to dive into these benchmarks in a little more depth to look at some of the implications of being strong in some benchmarks while struggling to hit others.

I’ll address such questions as:

  • What do the benchmark tests tell us about strengths and weaknesses of the athlete and the sort of training we may want to include in the athlete’s program?
  • What do they suggest about how the athlete may want to approach a pacing plan for the event?

Managing Fatigue Towards Kona

During late spring and early summer, I typically share unconventional tips with my most successful athletes:

Consider your season over.
Make sure you don’t lose any more weight.
Go on holiday and drop some fitness.
Remove structure, head out and have fun.
Perhaps, it is time to train without the data for a bit.
Take some time to improve the non-athletic aspects of your life.


Overloading for Ironman Hawaii

Qualifying for Kona requires a lot of work and, even if you have all day to train, smart overload is an effective way to get better.

Athletes can waste a lot of energy worrying about the structure of their training plan. Prove that you can do the work before you worry about the structure.

Kona Benchmarks

In my Plan for the "Realist" article, I wrote about some of the general levels of fitness that I typically encounter among athletes who qualify. Many of these measures of fitness are a little abstract, especially for those not super familiar with WKO+ or my own method of performance modeling: CTL, VO2 score, etc.

In this piece I want to bring some of those numbers down to a rubber meets the road perspective so that we can begin to answer the most basic of questions -- what sort of training sets/sessions should an athlete be able to accomplish to indicate they are in Kona shape?

Power-Based Race Simulations

I thought that I’d share how I build a power-based race simulation rides for ironman. It’s not particularly complex (at least to me). The “art” comes from interpreting the fatigue that the athlete will carry into the marathon and not screwing up the run with an inappropriate bike-power strategy.

Specific Preparation: Part II (Core Block)

The main difference between training to qualify and training to compete is the workload of the key days and the spacing of the key workouts.

Mid-pack athletes might train themselves to ultimately complete the ironman distance across four to six days.

Aspiring Kona-qualifiers should build their programs so that they can complete the ironman distance across 30 hours and have the bulk of their training time done at or over specific race pace and power.

Specific Preparation: Part I

by Gordo Byrn

Before we get into the specific workouts that I use to prepare an athlete for Kona qualification, let’s review the nature of the event:

  • It’s really long
  • You swim, then bike, then run
  • Your best result comes from using your fitness in a way that optimizes your fuel supply across the distance
  • No matter how well you are prepared, it is likely that reality will be somewhat different than what you expected

Let’s look at the above in more depth and consider what is implied for you.

  • Length
    How long are you likely to be out there and how long could you be out there? Ironman St George 2012 is a great example of conditions (wind) making a far longer race than anyone expected.

    As a coach, I advise Kona qualifiers from sub-9 to 13-hour finishing times. Compare the duration and average intensity of your event with your Basic Week. Most, but not all, athletes will find themselves long on intensity and short on endurance.

  • Medium of Movement
    You’ll start your day in the water, shift to fast moving air and finish with slow moving air. Do you have a deep appreciation of pace for each of these mediums and have you prepared yourself to put your efforts where you’ll get the most speed?

    It’s a long day and you can’t afford to waste energy. Become skilled at saving energy everywhere you can.

  • Fuel Supply
    Do you know what it takes to bonk you? What are the implications of running out of energy? There can be very different implications for a 200-pound male qualifier than for a 115-pound female qualifier. The larger you are, the greater the humility (and base) you’ll need to develop for your bike ride.

  • Mental Conditioning
    Is your life in order? Have you taken steps to create harmony in preparation for your Kona quest?

Plan for the "Realist"

by Alan Couzens, MS (Sports Science)

Last week I talked about the different improvement curves that I’ve observed for different types of athletes. I identified three basic athlete types: the natural, the realist and the worker.

As part of our new “How to Qualify for Kona” section that recently kicked off, I’m going to put some of those observations into the context of what it means to different types of athletes looking to qualify for Kona.

In a previous article for the Training Peaks site I conveyed some of the typical chronic training load ranges that I tend to see for athletes of different types and ability levels. The table from that article is reproduced below.

The times that qualify an athlete for Kona are getting faster by the year. The 2010 ranges for flat (Florida, Arizona, Brazil) and hilly courses (Lake Placid, CdA, St. George) for differing age-groups and genders is shown below.

So, comparing the two tables, if you’re a young(ish) male, you’ll likely need the fitness level represented by a VO2max/VO2 score of 60-67ml/kg/min* corresponding to a Chronic Training Load somewhere in the 75-150 TSS/d range. If you’re a young(ish) female, you’ll need the fitness level represented by a VO2max/score of 57-60 ml/kg/min* corresponding to a CTL somewhere in the 70-130 range.

Basic Base for Ironman Hawaii

Following on from my last installment that covered Your Basic Week, I wanted to get into detail with practical examples of the specific work that is required to get you to Kona.

Before we get stuck into the detail, how are you doing with creating a life structure of a Kona Qualifier?

I ask because your best competition have finished their seasons, completed their rejuvenation blocks and are dropping back into a proven routine.

To be successful you need to create the space to follow a path that others find too difficult.

Your Kona Week

Following on from my first piece on about setting up your life structure to qualify for Kona, AC wrote a great piece on the physiological and training load requirements to position yourself to qualify.

In this article, I’m going to step back from the technical detail and dig a little deeper into my statement that you’re looking at four hours per day, most days, of time commitment.

If you haven’t qualified for Kona then you may have run the numbers on that statement and inferred that I’m talking about a 28-hour training week. That is not the case.

Your Kona Push: Big Season Planning

In 2011, I aged up to the women's 45-49 year old age group. My family and my support team decided 2012 was the year to push for a slot. It required some serious commitment in planning, time, equipment and finances. I didn't write down my qualification plan but it was structured much like a business plan.

Navigating Your Kona Quest

In this article, I’ll discuss the five most common limiters to fast age group ironman performance. I’ll identify the issue and offer you specific tips to improve your race day performance.

How to Qualify - An Introduction

by Gordo Byrn

This initial article in our How to Quality series focuses specifically on advice for the athlete who wants to qualify for Kona. Through the series, past pieces are referenced where I addressed similar issues -- so if you really want to get stuck into the topic then we make it easier for you.

The entire series is in it's own library section: How To Qualify For Kona.

Let’s get started.

When writing about top age-group athletes, writers typically focus on the work required to get good, the athletic background or genetic talent required, and favorite training sessions. We’re going to address all that (and more) in this series.

Before you can train like a Kona Qualifier, you need to learn how to train and create a life that will support that training.

What are the key components?

Understanding Time - I have two rules-of-thumb with my schedule:

  1. It takes all day to train all day.
  2. Double the duration the time you spend working out to understand the time it takes to workout.

The practical implication is the Kona Qualifier’s quest needs four hours per day everyday, and all day twice a month. My next article for this series will explain how best to allocate your time and create your Basic Week.

Can’t do it? You just gave an edge to the competition.

Nutrition - You don’t need a scale to get to Kona. You need a strong, lean body that’s well prepared.

What really matters?

  • Limit your intake of sugar.
  • Fuel yourself for performance and rapid recovery.
  • Settle at your strongest training weight.
  • Eat real food.

Can’t figure it out? That’s another edge to the competition.

Stability and Routine - It takes many years to get good and you will need to be very good to qualify for Kona. Make an honest personal inventory of :

  • Financial stability

Load and Performance

One of the most common requests I receive as a coach is to don my prognosticator hat and answer the question, “How fast will I go on race day?”

This question can take various forms, from the direct “Will I qualify?” to the subtle “What’s an appropriate pacing strategy?” but the inquiry is fundamentally the same -- "Based on the training that I’ve done, what are some realistic performance expectations?" Or, the flipside to that, "If I have 'xyz' performance expectations, how much training do I need to do?"

Work Before Work Rate

If I could pinpoint the main difference between my approach to endurance, and more classical approaches, it comes from a desire to optimize sub-maximal stamina. With the exception of my female and veteran athletes, I rarely focus on maximal performance.

Our Favorite Workouts: Late Season Running Quickness

If you are still racing and heading to some of the fall events you still have some work to do. You've likely been racing for a number of months now and dragging out more long miles may only leave you flat. The months of racing, tapering and long sessions can see you losing some strength by this point in the year.

I recommend focusing your energy on quality for your event and keeping strength and power up. You want to prevent the feeling of "getting slow" from the year worth of long training and hard racing.