Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Thrifty Triathlete

"I love it when a plan comes together." These words were heard every week in the early 1980's on NBC's show, The A-Team. Colonel "Hannibal" Smith could be heard making this comment each time his team worked their way out of a tough situation. Usually, their success was dependent upon their creating a plan out of bits and pieces of things they found laying around.

So it goes for triathletes unable to afford the expense of hiring a full time coach. Even the cheapest of plans for half-Ironman and Ironman training can cost hundreds of dollars. Like The A-Team, thrifty triathletes must piece together a program from what is available for free. Luckily, the Internet minimizes the challenges associated with gathering information for building such a plan.

I've been busy digging up various training programs. Once collected, they will be reviewed for common threads, taken apart, and put back together in a manner that will best suit my needs over the next several months. Like Colonel Smith, I love it when a plan comes together.

The two things I have noted, thus far, is that plans seem to vary considerably on overall schedule and the official program from start to race day will run from 4-5 months. I will likely use a 20-week program as the base, keep Monday as a rest day, and use several four week micro-sessions I've come across for the winter months. It also seems that most of the programs DON'T have strength training included. So, I will continue to sift through available plans and find some that do.

As I start building this, I will be calling upon those of you with half and Ironman experience for your input. And if anyone has a basic plan that worked for them, it would be greatly appreciated if you shared whatever is available. I do, however, acknowledge that such plans tend to be highly personalized. For this first time out, I will personalize my own plan.

Given the goal of finishing, most drills in any discipline will focus on form and endurance. I will incorporate speedwork into the last six to eight weeks, and also into some of the winter micro-sessions. If the journey is half the fun, creating the road map should make things even more interesting.

And if this plan works, I will be able to look at all the money saved and justify using some of it to pay for an IM distance race in 2008. Well, in my head, at least.


Kewl Nitrox said...

One thrifty Triathlete to another - would luv a sneak peek at your training plan so I can model it. :)

Flatman said...

You sound a lot like me! I also, would love to see the plan when you get it all laid out...

Bolder said...

my plan is customized for me. some of the key questions asked were:

- how many hours do you have a week for training?
- when is your event? (too late for strength training when you are 16 weeks out)
- how much do you weigh? (nutrition, sodium, ...)
- what are your latest race results?
- what are your goals for your 'A' event?
- what are your strengths/limiters?

i think these are all important variables in your plan

Cliff said...

Iron Pol,

I would suggest picking a book call Going Long by Joe Friel and Gordo Bryn if you plan on doing Ironman (or even 1/2 Ironman).

Gordo's theory on training is having one week of training that you can do it over and over again. Key sessions are a long swim, long run and long bike and the rests are more or less fillers.

As cheap as I am..next year I am doing IM and would love to get a coach. There is just too much stuff that I don't know and need guidance along the way...will see how the cashflow is like next year before i make my decision.

Veeg said...

Does this mean that you've picked your race? Or just that you're set on doing 1/2IM next year?

Iron Pol said...

For those interested in seeing what I develop, I'll figure out a way to either post or e-mail it.

Thanks for the suggestions, Bold. Good ideas. And I'll consider the book, Cliff. The last book someone suggested (Total Immersion Swimming) was solid gold.

And Veeg, the distance decision is made, not the race. More in e-mail.

Anonymous said...

Beginnertriathlet.com has free "minutes only" plans. You can also pay like $35 for a 6-month membership to get the "gold" plans which include more detail as well as strength and core training. Or for $75 you can get access to a real coach through a forum. I've done that and they are very good about responding to your questions. Good luck! By the way, if I don't finish IMFl this year, you may not want to follow my plan!

qcmier said...

I used a personal coach, so I can't really give you my plan in a neat package.

I think many of the "free" plans do not include Weight/Strength training because you need to do it consistently for several months to reap the most benefits. I had weight room sessions 4 days/wk until maybe 5 months from IM then cut it down to 2 days/wk.

Bold has some excellent questions for you to ask yourself. In my opinion, whatever type of plan you go with, you will need to be flexible.