Thursday, August 6, 2015

Why I "Heart" Tim

This is Tim, crossing the finish line of his first Ironman in Boulder, Colorado on Sunday, August 2, 2015.

Tim and I have been working together as coach/athlete for almost a year in preparation for his race last weekend.  We have had only one face-to-face encounter, in Kona, where we were both competing in Ironman Hawaii 70.3 this summer.  Other than that, we have had weekly phone visits religiously for the past year discussing everything from race-day nutrition, power on the bike, racing strategy and weekly build and recovery weeks with an annual training plan.

As with every athlete I coach, I had Tim give me his race goals for Boulder, and Tim's A #1 best-case-scenario goal was 11 hours and 15 minutes.  As you can see in the picture above, Tim exceeded that goal with a time of 11 hours, 12 minutes.  And he finished waving a banner to his wife, daughter and family, honoring them with his I "heart" Susanna, Adair and Family sign.  A magical ending to a spectacular day.

When I think of Tim and his perfect day, two words come to mind:  CONSISTENT and CONSERVATIVE.  Let me explain.

First CONSISTENT.  Tim managed to fit in training in during the craziest time of his life.  He was finishing school, he and his wife welcomed a new daughter,  they relocated to a new state with a new profession.  But Tim carved out time by cycling indoors while his daughter was sleeping, or swimming when he was going to be on campus.  He made time to get things done and prioritized his time to even talk to his coach once a week.

Second, CONSERVATIVE.  While Tim is an excellent athlete, he didn't overestimate his goals on race day or training days.  His training did not overtake his life, but each workout was essential to his overall calendar.  He also did not expect qualify for Kona on his first attempt at the Ironman.  His goals were realistic, and pretty close to his estimated finishing time.  Also, Tim erred on the side of caution when it came time to do a "C" race sprint triathlon one weekend.  When the race turned rainy and muddy and cold, Tim opted out to stay safe and injury free with his eye on his number one goal.

I see all kinds of athletes doing all kinds of crazy training regimes for the Ironman.  But the most successful athletes follow this simple recipe for success:

* They formulate a realistic training plan with a coach (preferably Me!)
* Their training calendar includes base, build, taper and recovery weeks.
* They don't jump around and do whatever anyone else is doing in their biking group or running group.  They stick to their own plan.
* They avoid indulgent restaurants, and their diet is clean with colorful plates of healthy food.
* They avoid extended vacations away from training.
* Their training goals and race goals are realistic and not out of their range.
* They train within their own Heart Rate Zones.

There are lots of sacrifices one makes when training for an Ironman.   But every sacrifices makes race day a little more bearable.  And in the end, after paying a $700 entry fee, traveling to a destination race and paying for hotels, food, plane tickets and rental cars, a successful training regime makes crossing the finish line 100 percent worth it.

What tips do you have for a successful race?

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