By David Warden
Day 2 Splits
I once asked Joe Friel what the most important genetic gift an endurance athlete could have. I expected VO2max or a high % of slow twitch muscles. His answer? The ability to recover. The faster an athlete recovers, the faster they get back to volume and intensity that builds new fitness.
With the 50 50 50, recovery isn't used to build new fitness, it's used to survive, and it presented me a unique dilemma. Several months ago James asked how long each day's Ironman distance should take. My obsession at the time was intensity, specifically low intensity for the 50 50 50. I had visions of 2 hours cycling, 20 minutes relaxing, 90 minutes running, 15 napping, and repeat for each day. My initial, knee-jerk, response was 16 hours. "Uhhhh, that's not going to work for me," was James' instant reply.
He was, of course, right. This might have worked if his endeavor took place outside his own door each day, but the logistics to travel to a different state each day require travel time. The real dilemma in my mind at the time was to try and find the best balanced use of his 24 hours each day in terms of intensity/recovery ratio. If James does a 13 hour Ironman, he has 11 hours to recover but significant fatigue. If he does a 16 hour Ironman, he has only 8 hours to recover but less fatigue. Which is better?
"Dilemma" is perhaps a misleading term. In the end, the answer was academic. What, I asked James, was the maximum amount of time needed to travel from state to state? 10 hours. Therefore, we could afford a 14 hour Ironman each day. As much as I wish I could say this target was the result of careful calculation and deep though on my part, it was simply dictated by a map.
Still, I find myself obsessed with James not going to fast, despite the additional recovery time from a more intense day. I am of the opinion that the additional intensity is not worth it, and will only accumulate more than we can dissipate. Day 1 turned out to to be just under 13 hours. Fer cryin' out loud, my first Ironman in 2006 was just under 13 hours! And that was an all-out effort that kept me in bed for days. Target watts for Day 1 was 160 (the estimated wattage for a 7 hour ride with little wind and elevation gain), with 181 the result, and peak 20 minutes at 224, both far too high to satisfy me.
Day 2 brought about a better result. Normalized power of 170 and peak 20 minutes of only 179. Those two numbers alone take tremendous discipline for someone with an FTP of 296. Total bike time at 6:33. Much, much better but I would rather see 6:45 to 7:00. TSS at 217 is also a huge improvement, but I dream of getting his bike below 200 TSS every day. Cadence remains lower than I would like, left/right balance continues to be uncharacteristic for James, and max power of 800 watts is just showing off. Average heart rate was remarkably low at 118, and I'm pleased to see a peak HR of only 139 on the bike. Excellent. However, the low HR is likely due to the cool weather. The real challenge will be the weather in Iowa in mid-July on Day 43! Then we'll really discuss how heart rate is elevated by temperature.
I also enjoyed following James live on the bike via Garmin LiveTrack. James will often post this link for the day on his Facebook page (currently only working for the bike, we expect to get it fixed for the run soon). LiveTrack offers close to real-time power, cadence, heart rate, and speed. These metrics features seem only available in a computer browser, not on a mobile device which only shows summary data. LiveTrack allowed me to provide some real-time feedback to him, a sample below.
Finally, I understand there are questions regarding the lack of analysis of the swim and run from Day 1, and now from Day 2 as well. Unfortunately, I will not be able analyze and blog on all three sports each day, and I consider the bike results to make or break the 50 50 50. However, I'll make sure to include at least some screen shots from the swim and run for the reader to enjoy.
At the time of this post, James had not yet completed the run, but he said he was feeling good, and looked strong halfway through, swim summary below.
P.S. I was born in Anchorage.