3 weeks out from an Ironman

message to coached athletes for IM Florida

With less than three weeks to go until IM Florida, you have all reached your major training objectives. Congrats and awesome job. The hard stuff is truly over!

Now we’re approaching taper time, and there are some issues I’d like to cover before we get too far along.

A taper/peak period after an IM-training block like you are coming off of is almost like a period of semi-high-volume active recovery. We’ll be reducing the volume while focusing on some intensity, a few IM pace sessions, and aerobic maintenance. However, the real objective here is rest. Use the time that you’re not training over the next couple weeks to lie around the house with your feet up. Don’t sign up to paint the backyard fence or entertain the in-laws for a football weekend kegger!

During a taper/peak period like this, there are a few scenarios that may arise, and I’m going to explain them here.

Scenario 1:

In the first few days, your body may start to realize that you are pretty tired and/or worn down from the consistent high-volume training, and it may begin to demand extra sleep. You may feel lethargic and/or sluggish. It might take a while to get going during a training session, and you might not feel like you really ever get it going. It may be difficult to raise your HR, or conversely, it might be difficult to keep it under a certain level.

This phenomenon is due primarily to your body’s inherent drive to repair & rebuild itself (on the cellular level) from the extended training period. This period can last 5 days to 2 weeks. Some people do not really notice any major differences, while others may find themselves in a ‘fog’ for a few days. If you experience this recovery fog, take note:

Scenario 2:

Some of you may not experience this ‘recovery fog,’ and might just begin to feel better rested, more energized, and raring to go a few days into this taper period. This may be due to some underlying genetic factors related to recovery, years of prior experience, or other lifestyle-related phenomenon (for example, you consistently sleep 12 hour nights and get 2 massages a week!) In this case:

Scenario 3:

Somewhere in between 1 and 2 along with some emotional swings.

Wait a second. Men don’t have emotional swings. You are a block of granite carved from a mountain of steel. Your IM-taper will not dissolve into you crying like a baby over a broken cleat!

But seriously, along with the physical recovery, you may experience some mental/emotional side effects. Just realize that this is normal.

Scenario 4:

Your spouse sees you lying around the house, feet on the coffee table, crying about extended recovery periods and hammer-sessions, and tells you if you don’t win the stupid race, you better not come home!


Some other notes:

You have your nutrition plans set. The answer is yes. Right? Somewhere between 200-400 cal per hour on bike, and what you can take in on the run.

Are you ready to pee on the bike?

Put Vaseline under your armpits at the start of the marathon to prevent chafing.

Your race plan. You’ve written it. Right? Let me see a copy.

Along with your race plan you should be practicing some visualization:

See yourself at the start of the race. You are calm and relaxed. You know what you have to do and when to do it. Walk yourself through each part of the day, up to and including the finish. Know how you will respond to passing athletes and being passed. Know how you will pace yourself. What does the time on the clock say when you get there? See it, believe it, and achieve it.

It’s very likely that you may want to tweak your taper schedule. Email me and we’ll get it taken care of. Those of you with requests already in, they’re coming.

Closing thoughts:

The hard work is done. That’s it. You’ve completed the toughest part of your training program. Everything from here on out is primarily dependent on that big ole’ muscle between your ears. Stay smart. Stay on top of your rest and keep your efforts in check during training. Stay confident. Now that we’re done with the tough stuff, I’ll let you in on a secret:

You did some hard shit! Damn! :-)