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From 330 Pounds To Ironman Training!

Sobriety To Endurance Training

64 Pound Weight Loss!
64 Pound Weight Loss!

3 years ago I weighed 331 pounds and drank beer more days than not and it showed! Flash forward to today and I've come a long way. For starters, at 46 I'm 64 pounds lighter and have been sober for roughly 2 1/2 years now. 2 weeks ago I completed a Spartan Sprint Race and the training leading up to the event created some great gains in my fitness. I was really sore last week from all the obstacles and I could have taken the next couple weeks off. And in a couple weeks, I could start training again but this time with no goal ahead of me. I can't remember who said it but a sequel to a movie has to be bigger, flashier, and better than the original. That's why after running my Spartan Sprint I couldn't go back to the way I was training or even training for the same event next year. The challenge has to be bigger and build off the previous challenge. The Ironman 70.3 on September 15th, 2024 in Frankfort Michigan is bigger, better, and to be honest, scares the shit out of me!


What is the Ironman 70.3?

The Ironman 70.3 is sometimes called a "Half Ironman" but just because it's "half" doesn't mean it's easy. It's a triathlon that consists of swimming, biking, and running back to back with no breaks. The 70.3 stands for the total miles covered in the race. Here is how it breaks down:


SWIM- 1.2 miles on Betsie Bay right off Lake Michigan

1.2 Mile Swim Map

BIKE- 56-mile loop

56 Mile Bike Ride Map

RUN-13.1 miles (half a marathon!)

13.1 Mile Run Map

Doing any one of these on their own you'd get a serious workout. Perform them back-to-back and you have an endurance test that is going to challenge your mental toughness and physical limits. And the mental toughness isn't just about the race. The training I'm going to have to have under my belt before race day is going to transform me into something new.


Training Plan

30 Minute Low Impact Peloton Ride
30 Minute Low Impact Peloton Ride

Today I got in the mail a book about training titled "Iron Fit Secrets for Half Iron-Distance Triathlon Success" by Don and Melanie Fink. I'm reading this because training for an Ironman is completely out of my wheelhouse. I've read enough to know I need help so I'm going to read this book so I can create a better battle plan. In the meantime, I'm going forward with training that I believe will get the ball rolling. Here is a quick breakdown of how I'm attacking my training for the time being.

  • Running- Right now running is my strongest event but by Ironman standards I have a long way to go. I'm going to really focus on my running for the next couple of months. I'm going to run 3.8 miles for my long run this weekend and then I'm going to employ the 10 percent rule. I'll be increasing my runs by no greater than 10% each week. It will take a few months but I'll be up to 13 miles soon enough.

  • Bike- As of today I own a 15-year-old Schwinn. That is just not going to cut it to participate in an Ironman triathlon. I'm writing this section on Halloween and it's snowing here in Michigan. I'm going to hold off upgrading to a road bike until the spring. Until then I'm going to be really focusing on my Peloton Rides for my bike training. I'll have 6 months of road training when spring hits but for the winter months, my Peloton is going to be the foundation of my training.

  • Swimming- This is going to be my weakest link. I have no swimming experience whatsoever. I can swim to save my life but to actually swim laps I have no idea what I'm doing. I've started to look around and the local high school has open swim a few times a week. After I get my running in the double digits mileage-wise I'm going to start swimming. I need to get confidence in the water.

  • Weight Lifting- I'm going to lift weights 5 days a week along with my running, swimming, and biking. I definitely will not be going as hard as I was when I was training for my Spartan Sprint Race. I'll be spending plenty of time in my Shed Gym to get ready!

My Fears/Weakness

SWIMMING

When I'm typing this post I have 320 days to get prepared for race day. That should be more than enough time but one aspect I'm genuinely afraid of is the swimming portion. 1.2 miles seems like a long way to go when you're in the water. I'm not afraid of drowning but I am afraid of failing. The cutoff time is 1 hour and 10 mins so if I can't make it in that time I won't be able to continue. To train for that long and not be able to finish would be unthinkable. This fear will drive me to push harder and take no shortcuts.

Transitions

A transition in a triathlon can be a pivotal part of the race. It's the part of the race where you make the switch from one part of the event to another. So going from swimming to biking is one transition or biking to running is another. I have not competed in a triathlon before but reading about it seems like it can be a bit chaotic. If you're ultra-competitive in triathlons the seconds you can waste at a transition can make or break you. I'm not ultra-competitive but I still want to be organized and ready for transitions. The book that I bought has some information about race day gear so I'm hoping that will help me be prepared. Doing the events is hard enough on its own!


Nutrition

Since using Macrostax I've gotten my diet dialed in. I lost 17 pounds in less than three months preparing for my Spartan Sprint Race. With that being said I'm going to stop using the app for a little while. I want to see how I fare eating with this new training plan. Before I was really concerned about weight loss and still am, but I'm also concerned about performance. I'm going to monitor the scale and If I need to I know Macrostax will be there for me. I think it's going to be really important that I keep my protein up and my carbs a little higher than previously. My protein was right around 225 grams and I'd like to elevate that to 250 grams. The longer cardio sessions are going to wear my body down and I don't want to lose any muscle mass that I've worked hard on. My carbohydrates were set at 283 grams and I had a really hard time eating that many in a day. I think with the longer sessions I'll crave and need those extra carbs. This is the starting point for my diet/nutrition plan and I imagine I'll rewrite this a few times as my training changes. I'm counting on my body telling me what I need.


One thing I am going to continue to use is Huel meal replacement shakes. They are nutrient-dense meals that have been a valuable tool in my meal planning. One shake gives me 400 calories, 45 grams of carbs, 30 grams of protein, and 27 vitamins and minerals. I believe in eating whole meals for best results but this is a close second. Want to give Huel a shot and save $15 on your first order? Use this referral link and save some money on your first order! Enjoy!


Next Step: November Goals

It's November 1st as I'm wrapping this post up. I'm going to take this one month at a time. By the end of November, I would like a few things to happen.

  1. Be further along in my running. I just ran 3.5 miles on Saturday for my long run. With the 10% rule of mileage increases, I SHOULD be at 5.12 miles on my November 25th "long run".

  2. Consistently ride the Peloton 3 days a week. This is a really easy goal and I'm making it that way because I'm focused on the running right now. Each week I'd like one ride to be longer in time and another to be an interval ride. This week I'm going to complete a 20-minute ride, a 30-minute ride, and a 15-minute HITT ride.

  3. Find a weight-lifting regiment that works. 5 days a week but I'm probably going to have to scale it back just a touch to allow myself to recover from the running. I want to maintain the muscle I have to complement my swimming/running/biking.

  4. Finish reading my triathlon book. I do not have a triathlon vocabulary. The only way to get one is to soak up information about it. Once I finish reading this book I'm hoping I'll have a better understanding of how to train and prepare more efficiently for the race.

Short term I want to get through this week and either increase/decrease my workload. In the first couple of months, I think I'll be making a lot of tweaks because I'm so new at this. I have roughly 46 weeks to prepare so plenty of time to learn on the job!

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