Thursday, November 13, 2008

Training Made Easy

6 weeks deep into my Ironguides plan the daily sessions are now etched in my mind. I know what I am supposed to do and when and why and how long for. It’s not because the plan is boring, that could not be further from the truth. No, the plain and honest fact is, it’s SIMPLE.
In the short time I have been knocking about in this sport, I am very blessed to train with an experienced group of amazing guys who have helped me out no end. They have introduced me to a lifestyle I never thought existed and helped me believe in myself. They make getting up at ungodly hours totally acceptable and FUN. I haven’t got the knowledge of years and years of triathlon training like some of my TTH buddies to compare their regimes to my new Method. But at the end of the day without any qualified assistance, training is to a certain extent still flying by the seat of your pants. I guess the real problem for everyone is questions that we combat on a daily basis.
For example; a sampling in no particular order:
When to have a rest day, what is a rest day, can I have a rest day?
How long to taper/do I need to taper?
How many bricks should I do?
How can I improve my swim/bike/run?
Why do I swim/bike/run 4 times a week but have no improvement?
What should I be eating?
How many hours should I train per day/week?
How does an “easy” session make you faster?

How does pushing higher gears on the bike help your run?
And so the list goes on and on and on...
Before I was given the plan, Ironguides wanted to know everything about me. What makes me tick, what is my goal (oh dear, let me think for a while about that one – I will get back to you - haha!) What motivates me, my weaknesses, my name it they wanted to know. From the simplest to the hardest thing I have ever had to do (and no, that was NOT IM Langkawi). Once they had these valuable nuggets of information Coach Vinnie devised the plan based on my strengths, limiters (the swim), the GOAL and the time that I have/can make, for training.
The plan came back and while we all know the swim volume at first shocked, everything else as I have mentioned before seemed very doable. The swim volume scares me no more. If I am told to just have a 30minute easy recovery swim, I’m like “is that all?” WOW. On those rare days because they are VERY rare (only one so far) I would love to do more, I would love to bang in a run, get on George and hammer through the gears, because I am itching, yes itching to train. But I don’t. Why? Because since October 4th I have followed the plan to the T, and it has worked so far so why would I risk doing more when instructed not to?
My times are coming down, some tumbling. That is not always going to be the case. As everything gets better it is going to get harder and harder to cut seconds, at the moment it’s minutes!
There is just one rule. Think of Ironguides as a diet. We all know if you follow a diet it won’t work if you cheat. Well Ironguides is the same. The schedule is clear and simple, easy to understand and follow. But if you sway, adapt, change, skip or dare to try and CHEAT it then don’t bother wasting their time or yours. Good training is honest training. It’s not about killing the bike every session – I have now learnt this. It is not about running the same pace every session and it is definitely not about swimming up and down a pool mindlessly blowing your brains out with boredom. The sessions are varied enough to keep it different. I get excited just thinking about my Thursday morning 3k swim (but that’s me, a sad git).
Finally what other gems can an online coach provide? Remember this could be someone you have never met. I haven’t met Coach Vinnie and we have not yet spoken. (But we all know how I prefer the written word over talking). They need to learn about you just as you need to learn and understand your plan and read and understand when your body is tired, hungry, sick, ready to race etc. Every titbit that you feed back after a good or a bad session no matter how trivial helps Coach get a clearer picture of what you can endure and how much you can train. We are all built differently and we all have different strengths and weaknesses. If you have problems tell them. When I started the plan my knee was stopping me from doing ANY riding. Not a great start but I took on board the advice, did not push it, did not try and do too much and now bobs your Uncle, Emma is back to normal (well as normal as she gets).
I know of a couple of people who are following online coaching. There’s appears to be more technical than the Ironguides Method. This doesn’t put me off. I don’t really want the hassle of measuring out puts and stuff. I wear a heart rate monitor only when riding and I look at it from time to time but it doesn’t really dictate what I do. Right from the start the one device I have relied on for letting me know how things are going is not a gadget – it’s me. Training with Exercise Induced Asthma over the years has taught me to listen to my body and understand reading perceived effort and feeling, it’s not going to work for everyone but I like this method. It makes the training clean, simple uncluttered and natural, oh and did I mention cheap! How far did I run in week 3? Haven’t a clue. How many k’s did I bike last week? Haven’t the foggiest. These are questions since coming aboard Ironguides I no longer think about – I trust their advice and judgment implicitly – I am in their hands.
There is one question I do know the answer to though and that is: “Am I getting faster?” YES, YES, YES!
Thanks Coach Vinnie and Ironguides, bring on the Phuket training!