If you have a deep desire and dream to cross a Half-Ironman or Ironman finish line, but you're a busy person with absolutely no time, passion or desire to neglect work and family for 2 hour pool sessions, 7 hour bike rides, and 3 hour runs, then then this article was written for you.
In this article are 7 Crucial Principles that my friend, a triathlon coach and author, Ben Greenfield, has discovered over the past decade of studying, training, racing and coaching pro and amateur endurance athletes...principles that allow you to train for half and full Ironman without neglecting your family, career, friends, hobbies and life!
Te Koi Smith
7 Crucial Principles
Principle 1 - HIT Training
Research has proven that high-intensity interval training (HIT) can produce superior cardiovascular and muscular endurance adaptations, allowing you to simulate the endurance enhancing effect of a 3-4 hour training session with as little as 30-40 minutes of scientifically based interval training. A good training plan takes full advantage of this research by telling you exactly how many intervals to do, how long to work, how long to rest, and which days to perform these "get the most bang for your buck" sessions. As an added bonus, you should have short and highly effective gym workout sessions that also feature HIT sessions, multi-joint exercises and a circuit-based format for ensuring you're in and out of the weight room as quickly as possible.
Principle 2 - Periodization
Periodization is the practice of splitting a training and an eating year (or in the case of Ben's programs, a 9 month period of time) into specific blocks of training and eating, each with a specific purpose. By hammering home skills such as force, power, muscular endurance, explosiveness or speed into separately designed training blocks of key workouts, this type of training allows your triathlon fitness to progress at bullet-speed. Furthermore, to keep your body bulletproof and at razor-sharp recovery capacity, a well designed meal plan should have carbohydrate, protein and fat intake changes along with these alterations in training. The principle of periodization means that your plan should include precise allowance for swim form drills, cycling skill workouts, running drills, how to calculate your heart rate zones, how to use an optional power meter on your bike, quick and easy to prepare meals, and the dozens of other crucially important details the Ironman triathlete should be incorporating (although most of them don't..they just train 20 hours, eat as much crap as possible, and hope their plan's insane volume will fix it's complete absence of pre-planned training and eating periodization).
Principle 3 - Strategic Rest & Test
Most training programs adhere to the ho-hum, rigid concept of simply laying off and resting every 4th week. Instead of utilizing this method, maximal training benefit with minimum time takes advantage of rest weeks by A) combining exact protocols to test your swimming, cycling and running progress with the weeks where you are performing the easiest, recovery workouts; and B) giving your body the exact dietary supplements and fueling specifications it will need for the recovery week. So you don't have to worry about randomly jotting your test results onto a notepad, you should have structured logs that you use to keep track of these important tests. This means that during your 9 months of training for Ironman, you'll never go more than just a few weeks without getting to recover, re-test and discover exactly how quickly your body is transforming to dominate Ironman.
Principle 4 - Racing
The fastest path to both physical and mental domination in Ironman triathlon is to race and compete in triathlons during your build-up to the big day. Therefore, a good plan allows for a half-marathon or an Olympic distance race or race simulation, a sprint distance race or race simulation, and a Half-Ironman race or race simulation. By utilizing this principle, your mind will be razor-sharp for race day, and your confidence will soar. Of course, you also have to know what to eat for the week leading up to the race, and you have to know that you won't be that person with severe nutritional issues, walking with a stomach cramp or doubled over with diarrhea on the marathon.
Principle 5 - No Guesswork
You can't afford to waste any time, to guess about how long to go, how hard to go, or which drills to do, right? You also can't waste your time wondering what to order at the restaurant, how to choose your post-workout meals, and which pills, capsules and powders are the best or a waste of your money. So always have a plan. If it's not 100% clear what you're supposed to be doing in your training, you're going to be more likely to fiddle away your precious hours with "junk miles". This not only steals time from family, fun and work, but also leaves you more likely to make mistakes, to overtrain, or to completely destroy your potential to dominate. Furthermore, if it's not 100% clear how you're supposed to be fueling or hydrating, you're going to be more likely to mess up your workout recovery, unable to exercise at your maximum capacity, and most importantly, unlikely to complete the Ironman (unless you're OK with a slow walk during the marathon). So from day 1 of your training, you must beyond a shadow of a doubt, exactly what you are supposed to do for both exercise and eating.
Principle 6 - Holistic Fueling
Unfortunately many endurance athletes use the rigor of training and a speedy metabolism to justify a diet that is incredibly calorie dense (as it should be), but is also high in foods that can cause damage to human performance, the immune system, the heart, the hormones and overall health. It makes you want to shout, "If your diet wasn't so crappy, maybe you wouldn't have to train so much!"
It is very important to understand that with an exercise regimen that is already very difficult for the average human body to absorb, you as a triathlete must adopt a nutrition protocol that supports complete health, and not just cheap gasoline fuel for exercise. The solution involves focusing on promoting rapid recovery, fighting inflammation, reducing potential toxins, and powering the immune system. A healthy meal plan includes anti-inflammatory foods and nutrition supplements, avoids common traps while grocery shopping, and gets a perfectly balanced ratios of protein, carbohydrate and fat. When your cells are firing on all cylinders, it is really a magical feeling, especially during a long day like Ironman, and this principle is the key to ensuring that you cross the finish line with a smile on your face, knowing that you’ve cared for your body and that you’ve done no damage with your high daily caloric intake.
Principle 7 - Time Flexibility
Let's face it - life happens. As a result, there may be days where you simply can't complete a planned workout or you have to "mix-n-match" workouts in order to attend an important board meeting, make it to your kid's soccer tournament, or go to a holiday party. With your hectic lifestyle in mind, A good plan should be incredibly flexible and can be re-arranged without disrupting the overall effectiveness of the program. For example, one week in your schedule might involve Monday and Wednesday cycling and strength training sessions, Tuesday and Thursday
runs and a Friday rest day. But you can easily shift the workouts to separate days, or even choose a different day for a rest day. Even the weekends should be flexible, you get to choose which days to complete the workouts depending on whether Saturday or Sunday is best for you.
Perhaps you don't know where to start when it comes to implementing these principles into your training plan for half or full Ironman and you’ve heard that the average age-group or amateur Ironman triathlete cycles 300 miles per week, runs 30 miles per week, and swims 10,000 meters per week. Furthermore, perhaps you’ve heard stories of the year long sabbaticals from work, the neglected families, the ruined marriages and the obsessive lifestyle that results from these insane attempts to maintain a “normal” lifestyle while training for Ironman. You've also noticed that the majority of these individuals walk across the finish line and have a complete lack of confidence and preparation for the race, despite giving up their lives to barely even complete the race!
The good news is that Ben Greenfield has actually designed a plan that that utilizes each of the 7 Crucial Principles outlined above, so that you break the mold and dominate Ironman with as few as 8-12 weekly training hours!
You have to see it to believe it. I was floored when I found out about this training plan. Check it out here: http://www.triathlondominator.com