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Help Me With My (First) Ironman Taper
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I'm doing my first Ironman in 20 days (IM Chatt). As some background, I've been averaging around 13 hours/week for close to a year now. My TSS is usually in the 800-1100 range (this is including swimming TSS; I know some people calculate it differently). I'll try to give as much background on myself as I can & I'd really appreciate any critiques and criticism that can be given!

For swimming, I've been attending a high level masters class roughly 3 times per week (I've gone from a starting point of ~1:30/100yd to ~1:15/100yd). I definitely think this is my strong leg, so if something needs to be cut then this may be worth considering.

For biking (in the order I've completed the phases), I went through TR Sweet Spot Base followed by Half Distance build and specialty. I messed up my plan a bit and ended up doing the last 3 weeks of TR Sweet Spot Base followed by the full distance build and specialty (which I am currently 3 weeks away from completing). I've more or less followed their workout planning with the biggest exception being my master's swimming instead of their swimming instructions. I've also opted for shorter rides for the long rides (I've done mostly 4 hour trainer rides on the weekend vs the 4-6 hour range as prescribed; I just don't have the time to be able to dedicate, unfortunately). I feel stronger than ever on the bike (thanks Coach Chad), but I would definitely consider it my weakest leg.

For running, I've been following the prescribed TR suggestions. The biggest difference is I've been doing less mileage for the long runs (capped out with a few long runs of ~16 miles) and doing more short runs throughout the week (4-6 miles with a bit of zip). I have been following the TR VO2Max & Tempo runs (essentially building up time and number of intervals for VO2Max and extending the time at Tempo). I don't consider myself necessarily the 'fastest' runner, but I do think I'm pretty 'durable'. I was able to hold a 7:30/mile pace for 12 miles off of a 5 hour TR ride and I still felt like I could keep going at mile 12. My current thinking is that I should continue to just try to get a lot of 30 minute 7:30ish pace runs in to keep my legs tough.

Currently, I'm feeling pretty fit but fatigued. I've definitely been "feeling" the large training load of the past few months day in & out. I've noticed that if I take a light day or two I feel pretty fresh (been able to do a few short races and have good results), but I'm still not quite at 100% (probably closer to 90ish).

Sorry if I've rambled too much! I've attached an image of my planned taper so far. I'd really appreciate any help I can get (if for no other reason than to help settle nerves)!

Last edited by: PomDad: Sep 10, 18 17:22
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Re: Help Me With My (First) Ironman Taper [PomDad] [ In reply to ]
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How close is your taper to the TR plan you're following? Sounds like you've been mostly following the TR plan to date, so if you're confident in that I'd stick with it.

Couple of thoughts:
- You've only got 1 swim in the last 10 days before your race. A lot of people find they need to get in the pool more often to maintain good feel for the water, and swimming is the lowest impact of the 3 sports so minimal risk doing more swimming
- Quite a few Easy sessions in there. Are those sessions easy in your normal training week? General advice is to keep the intensity the same during taper but reduce the volume. E.g. if you normally do a 60 minute run with 40 minutes at tempo/threshold, then reduce it to 30 minutes with 20 minutes of tempo.
- Overall volume drop is pretty big. Your average training volume isn't huge, general thinking seems to be that the lower your training volume, the shorter the taper and the less you need to reduce it by proportionally. I did similar volume to you on my last IM and my taper was something like 10-11 hours, 7-8 hours, 5-6 hours which worked pretty well. Taper too much too early and you'll be detraining by the time you hit the race.
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Re: Help Me With My (First) Ironman Taper [cartsman] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks for the feedback!



The taper is definitely trodding a bit off of the TR plan. They do a 2 week taper, which I fear may be a bit too short for me (though I’m not entirely sure because this is all new territory for me; I’ve never followed a structured plan so closely and for so long). I’m trying to take the ‘hay is in the barn’ approach and get to the race as fresh as possible. After all of the hard work for the past year, I’d almost prefer to be a bit detrained and fresh than peak training and risk being fatigued. My thinking is that by doing frequent, short, intense workouts during the taper week that I can maintain my threshold fitness and ‘float’ my aerobic fitness.



I agree with you on the swimming. I'm thinking now that I will add in a full practice that Monday and the half swim on Wednesday. Maybe a quick noodle in Chattanooga too, if I can find a good pool.



I probably should have used better wording than 'easy'. I consider them easy in the sense that they're easy to absorb and shouldn’t leave much of an impact on the following day. For example, yesterday's run was 1/2 mile of warm up, miles 1/2 through 3 were a build in pace (mile paces were 7:27, 6:19, 5:49), and then a mile cool down.


Finally, the volume drop is large. Do you have any suggestions on where/what I should add? Maybe just extend the bike workout durations 15-30 minutes each?
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Re: Help Me With My (First) Ironman Taper [PomDad] [ In reply to ]
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I’ve only done one IM, but I’d be more interested in seeing the three weeks prior to the taper you have planned.

Based on your description of your bike and run volumes, your taper looks too light (for what I would be comfortable with). Unless you were trashed, three weeks out, I wouldn’t back off nearly that much.

Good luck.
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Re: Help Me With My (First) Ironman Taper [nc452010] [ In reply to ]
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Don't overthink it. But don't try and cram training into your last week - it isn't going to help you at that late stage but it might mess it up for you. Just drop the volume a fair bit and do enough to keep sharp. ie. don't just sit on the sofa for 7 days.

And accept that you are probably going to feel a bit mental and stressed and be bouncing off the walls as the big day approaches as you've been used to training constantly for months until now and you're crapping yourself about the upcoming race. Just relax and trust in all the training you've done. An IM is very doable. You'll be fine.

Don't scrimp on the planning time - make sure you don't mess up by forgetting something, or getting the nutrition wrong, or not checking your bike beforehand....
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Re: Help Me With My (First) Ironman Taper [PomDad] [ In reply to ]
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I am also doing the TR plan for Chattanooga, so I am in the same week as you. I am doing the Full IM plan, high Volume edition.

You have 10 hours scheduled for this week. For me, I am looking at 18+ hours. So your volume seems to be off a bit for the 1st of your weeks. Even in the final week, the bike alone has 4 hours, not including running or swimming.
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Re: Help Me With My (First) Ironman Taper [Spartan420] [ In reply to ]
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Yeah, I was just trying to cut the volume a little early to shed some fatigue sooner. I ended up just following the plan last week and now that things are actually starting to reduce I'm feeling better... Or I was feeling better.

I think one of my coworkers gave me a cold. That started Tuesdayish. It's completely above the neck (aside from the standard body soreness) and I don't have a fever. I am fatigued though (went about 5s/100yd slower yesterday in the pool).

What's the best plan of action to get through this? Would short and intense 30min sessions twice a day extend it much? Should I shut it down completely for a few days?

I'm glad it sprung up this week and not next, but I'm worried about doing too much and pushing it into next week.
Last edited by: PomDad: Sep 21, 18 6:23
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Re: Help Me With My (First) Ironman Taper [PomDad] [ In reply to ]
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For me it is always tough to give someone else taper advice. Personally, I race better on less of a taper than most and have done 15 IM's and just learned this recently. I recognize it is your first IM but my advice would be to think about how you have tapered for other races and let that guide you. Best of luck!
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Re: Help Me With My (First) Ironman Taper [PomDad] [ In reply to ]
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Here's to hoping you still have notifications on for this old thread, months in retrospect.


I'm interested in hearing how you ended up doing with your taper, and how it all went in the end, race included?

I'm doing my first IM in Copenhagen in August and I'm a long time silent lurker on this forum, never posted anything. But I'm sitting here with the exact same thoughts as you did last September, as IM tapering is new to me as well and this will be the first time ever I've trained for something 24 consecutive months.

I've been doing 8-11 hours a week so far, 3 weeks heavier (10-11h) load and 1 week easier (7-8h) load, 50 % bike, 25 % run, 20 % swim and 5 % strength using a 80/20 philosophy since 2017. My goal is to finish but in the back of my head I have silent thoughts of a time in-between 12 and 13 hours. My last 5 weeks leading up to IM CPH looks like this in TrainingPeaks as it is:

4 weeks out: 10:29 hours, 2nd Big Training Day on Saturday (3km, 130km, 10km), the rest is filler (1 short swim, 2 short bikes, 2 short runs)
3 weeks out: 7:34 hours, focus on easy start of the week, 3 swims / 3 bikes / 2 runs, no long sessions. Focus on bike tempo and high cadence.
2 weeks out: 10:49 hours, 3 swim / 3 bike / 3 run, last long run on the Monday (18km) 20 days prior to race day, last long bike on the Friday (130km) 16 days prior to race day. Focus on swim tempo.
1 week out: 6:21 hours, 2 swim / 4 bike / 3 run, last long swim (4km), all bike sessions 0:45-1:30 hours and all run sessions 0:30-0:45 hours. Focus on a few run strides.
Race week: 3:30 hours, 2 swim / 2 bike / 2 run sessions, all sessions 0:20-0:40 hours. Day off Thu (travel day) and Sat.

I'm knowingly laying back on the run volume a bit in the end here, since I have a history with my knee and like OP, I'd rather start for sure and perform 98 % on the day than risk starting at all in exchange for a chance at 100 %. According to my plan TrainingPeaks performance management chart gives me a -32 form post Big Training Day, and a curve that goes into the positives 11-12 days prior to race day. Form on race day (Sunday) would be 33 CTL (27 on Saturday). Fitness loss from peak (Friday 16 days out) would be +94 to +79.

I guess I'm looking for some confirmation that I'm in the right ball park here, cutting down on volume the last two weeks but not frequency. What's bothering me though is the huge dent in fitness between peak and race day according to TP, should I just let that bother me, trust my two years of training leading up to this day and execute my plan or should I try to aim for a no higher than 25 CTL form on race day with a little lesser fitness drop (94->82/83)?
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Re: Help Me With My (First) Ironman Taper [TurtleOnLand] [ In reply to ]
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Can’t tell exactly, but looks like you have a 2 week taper ... and each week is ~50% WoW reduction? Seems pretty similar to what I’ve always done

I’d make sure you have a bit of intensity in the bike in those last 2 weeks. Cut duration down significantly. But intensity doesn’t cut as much

Remember, you have years of consistent training under you. What you do in the final 2 weeks will not help you gain fitness. Trust your training, rest up and go into the race feeling awesome and ready to dominate!
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Re: Help Me With My (First) Ironman Taper [mvenneta] [ In reply to ]
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Yes I've planned roughly 16 days of tapering. Making sure I have enough intensity on the bike the last two weeks is a good call, as I had it planned right now I would have cut down the volume significantly but kept the upcoming race intensity (planning to race at around IF 0.67-0.68). Thank you!
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Re: Help Me With My (First) Ironman Taper [PomDad] [ In reply to ]
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I don't like this plan at all.

What is the purpose of a taper?

PomDad wrote:
I'm doing my first Ironman in 20 days (IM Chatt). As some background, I've been averaging around 13 hours/week for close to a year now. My TSS is usually in the 800-1100 range (this is including swimming TSS; I know some people calculate it differently). I'll try to give as much background on myself as I can & I'd really appreciate any critiques and criticism that can be given!

For swimming, I've been attending a high level masters class roughly 3 times per week (I've gone from a starting point of ~1:30/100yd to ~1:15/100yd). I definitely think this is my strong leg, so if something needs to be cut then this may be worth considering.

For biking (in the order I've completed the phases), I went through TR Sweet Spot Base followed by Half Distance build and specialty. I messed up my plan a bit and ended up doing the last 3 weeks of TR Sweet Spot Base followed by the full distance build and specialty (which I am currently 3 weeks away from completing). I've more or less followed their workout planning with the biggest exception being my master's swimming instead of their swimming instructions. I've also opted for shorter rides for the long rides (I've done mostly 4 hour trainer rides on the weekend vs the 4-6 hour range as prescribed; I just don't have the time to be able to dedicate, unfortunately). I feel stronger than ever on the bike (thanks Coach Chad), but I would definitely consider it my weakest leg.

For running, I've been following the prescribed TR suggestions. The biggest difference is I've been doing less mileage for the long runs (capped out with a few long runs of ~16 miles) and doing more short runs throughout the week (4-6 miles with a bit of zip). I have been following the TR VO2Max & Tempo runs (essentially building up time and number of intervals for VO2Max and extending the time at Tempo). I don't consider myself necessarily the 'fastest' runner, but I do think I'm pretty 'durable'. I was able to hold a 7:30/mile pace for 12 miles off of a 5 hour TR ride and I still felt like I could keep going at mile 12. My current thinking is that I should continue to just try to get a lot of 30 minute 7:30ish pace runs in to keep my legs tough.

Currently, I'm feeling pretty fit but fatigued. I've definitely been "feeling" the large training load of the past few months day in & out. I've noticed that if I take a light day or two I feel pretty fresh (been able to do a few short races and have good results), but I'm still not quite at 100% (probably closer to 90ish).

Sorry if I've rambled too much! I've attached an image of my planned taper so far. I'd really appreciate any help I can get (if for no other reason than to help settle nerves)!

Eric Reid
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Re: Help Me With My (First) Ironman Taper [ericMPro] [ In reply to ]
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I would like to hear your insight. Nailing a taper to me is part art and part science. I would like to hear your science side for an IM taper, + the art of your experience.

David
* Ironman for Life! (Blog) * IM Everyday Hero Video * Daggett Shuler Law *
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Re: Help Me With My (First) Ironman Taper [TurtleOnLand] [ In reply to ]
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Didn't expect to see this thread bumped!

I actually didn't end up sticking to this tapering plan much at all. I got a really nasty tapering flu pretty much exactly two weeks out which meant I was doing a very light first week and tried to throw in a bit of intensity the second week.

I think it might have ended up being a blessing in disguise though because I had a great race. Chatt had the canceled swim (which was a bummer because that's probably my biggest strength), but I did a ~5:30 on the bike and ~3:15 on the run. One place off of a KQ, but I couldn't complain as it was a fast year for my AG.

Going forward, I definitely think I will focus on a 'less is more' approach for IM tapering. You won't lose enough in two weeks to cancel out how much you've gained in the months before.

Good luck!
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Re: Help Me With My (First) Ironman Taper [PomDad] [ In reply to ]
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Great to get a comment from you PomDad and very exciting to read about your great race! I remember reading about your flu signs early on in this thread and for a moment there I actually contemplated not asking you how your race went at all, because I was afraid you might have missed it due to being sick.

The 'less is more' approach you describe is probably vise, I do have a tendancy to over-think things. It's part personality, part need for preparation and visualization. But it will probably come naturally if I'm fortunate enough to stay healthy enough to do ironmans in the future as well.
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