ITU LC WC Race Planning

I’ve been pointing to a race the end of August for the past three years – the International Triathlon Union (the global triathlon Olympic Federation) Long Course World Championships in Penticton BC. I’ve been talking back and forth with my coach about this race recently; here’s that conversation as recorded in EN emails [Ed. note: this is filled with tri-geek talk and abbreviations; proceed only if interested and familiar with the lingo]:

August 2 – I’m feeling really good about my training progress in all three disciplines (see below). What I need at this point will be a focused conversation about race strategy, given that this is a new distance for me. If it were a half or full IM, I’d *know* what IF to pace the bike, and how to structure the run. But these distances are long enough to require some good discipline on race day, yet don’t fit into a structure, “Oh, just go 10% harder than a full.” Specifically, the bike is 74 miles, followed by an 18+mile run. Given the course and my current training efforts, I’m pretty sure I can do that in 3:40-3:55. But I don’t know how to translate that to an IF target.

Training progress: my swim feels steady, getting 1-2 OWS/week, and 1-2 indoor sessions, all about an hour each, which will be the time I should be in the water on race day. On the bike, my weekly mountain rides are progressing from 2 hours worth of 25′ @ 0.82 three weeks ago, to 45′-1:30 intervals @ 0.85, total work time (uphill or flats) of almost 3 hours. Followed by a 2-3 hour bike the next day. Last weekend, I did a quasi-Olympic triathlon, 23 miles @ 21 mph, hitting 0.88 on the bike, with a good steady 4 mile trail run @ 8:30 pace.


We missed connections on a phone call past two days, I’m hoping we can connect sometime in the next week or so to discuss my bike pacing for the upcoming 3/120/30K ITU race on Aug 27. Today, I did some thinking on that. I looked at the bike legs of my past three races, an IM, HIM, and Oly. All were FLAT courses (Maryland, Miami, and local), and I was at or near the top of my AG in both the bike and run in each of them. I felt very good about the effort level on each of those bikes, and I was able to pull off a competitive run after each. So I thought I’d see if I could triangulate a power target based on them.

IM Maryland: 100 miles in 5:07 (=5:45 for 112), AP/NP => 132/136    IF = 0.64
HIM Miami: 54.5 miles in 2:37 (=2:42 for 56),    AP/NP => 147/152    IF = 0.72
Oly: 22.5 mi in 1:06                                              NP =>      190     IF = 0.9

I may be a *little* bit stronger on the bike than last fall. Training peaks says my “mFTP” is 232 (3.54 w/kg), I am using 216 (3.3 w/kg) as my FTP. compared to 213 last fall.

Add to the mix, I’ve been able the past 2-3 weeks to go 2.5-3 hours non-stop @ e.g., AP/NP 172/176, IF 0.82 when climbing up mountains. I don’t run after those efforts.

Based on this, I believe my power target should be: AP/NP 145/150 for a 75 mile bike which I expect will take me 3:45. I feel I can hold 0.7 IF/151 watts. The profile of the race has the first 15-20 miles pretty darn flat, with 4 moderate climbs in the last 50 miles. So going easier in the first 30-45 minutes does not make sense to me, as I am best when I am roaring down the flats – I’ve got great aero position, and seem to sustain momentum very well.

Coach responds: …Swim? Check

Bike? I agree with .7 as the baseline with .75 cap on the hills (what’s the Hr cap?) and DNE (do not exceed) .8 — I vote we are strict on those #s so you can really run it out. Sitting up an spinning up those hills will be key, esp if you are hitting it pretty hard out of transition.

Run? I think you’ll still need to be conservative here, esp early given your bike effort. If you can be smart those first 3 to 5 miles to regain composure, no one can close like you do.


August 6: …I feel very comfortable with using 150/151 W as my power target for the 75 mile bike leg. My current 3 hour power as of three days ago is 153. Two days later, I ran a half marathon and was able to get under 8 min miles (which is low Z3) for the final 15-20 minutes on a warm sunny day (race was from 9-11 AM). And I continue to get do a weekly OWS of 3,000 m in one hour. So I like where my training has me; the trick now is to keep the fitness while developing a little form. I am at peak fatigue – not a super low TSB, but just that deep sense of tiredness that I get with about three weeks to go before an IM.

You noted I need some HR numbers for the bike leg. That’s a bit harder to assess until I do an OWS followed by a race pace bike – that’ll probably come 10 days out from the race. But I’m betting that 115-8 will be my race pace HR, with 123 being the upper limits, that same number being the miles 4-14 run HR. In the ride last Thursday when I got that three hour power #, my HR was 110-112, with 115 coming when I pushed a little, and 121 appearing when I tried popping up a hill 3 hours and 30 minutes into the ride. And when I did an Oly @ 0.9 IF 3 weeks ago, by avg  HR was 124 for the bike leg. These #’s may seem low, but my max HR is probably 160 now, and last week’s FTP intervals on the trainer had me at IF 1.043/HR 127 for the final 15′ interval.

I really don’t have a clue about taper. The race is on a Sunday. I will drive 6 hours on Wed. Tuesday I will be able to swim, OWS or pool. Sunday and Monday I will be driving to and from Oregon to watch the eclipse, and could run, but not swim or bike. Two weeks before, on next Saturday, I’m doing another Oly tri, to test my new bike once again in race conditions (first time with behind the seat bottle cage, race tires/latex tubes, etc.) and run @ expected race day pace – a lazy man’s race rehearsal.

Coach response: …The watts sound good and I hear you on the Fatigue vs Form issue. A strategic day off can’t hurt, but we can discuss how you like to sharpen on the call. The OLY you mention is a great step in the right direction; the volume itself is done, so it’s equal parts don’t get sick/injured and equal parts get a bit sharper.

While you don’t _HAVE TO_ have a hard HR number now, I need you to have it so you can “adjust” your power goals on the fly. For example, if you expect to see 110 to 112 on the bike, then we know what you “should” get your HR down to at the start of the bike…and you also know if you see 140 while climbing on a hot day that you are in a terrible place.  ;)

You’ll want the same “ballpark” HR number for the run…

Tentative Taper Thoughts to Discuss:

  • Mon – OFF / Travel
  • Tue – OWS
  • Wed – Travel + Short Pre-Dinner Run to get loose..30 minutes.
  • Thu – Optional Swim, prefer a Bike Recon of 60-90′ mostly easy with some short 4′ efforts at race pace with 6′ of easy spinning after. Run 30′ off bike or Pre-Dinner.
  • Fri – AM Swim on Site, Pre-Dinner short run of 30′ @ TRP.
  • Sat – OFF / Carb Load / Logistics
  • Sun – RACE

August 9, after a phone call, Coach had this to say: …

Like I was saying on the phone the super pleased with how your performance planned out in the last couple weeks especially on the run. You can’t ask for much more than that headed to a race. Especially a race of this caliber.

 I was asking those questions about  The bike and the run just to see where your head was that about trying to find room for a slightly higher level of performance. I agree, you’re “set it and let everyone fadeaway” strategy is really effective… And that’s what sets you up for the best possible run.

My only thought is that you might hit a spot on the bike where you’re comfortable working a bit more on the hills because of what you’ve been doing the last few weeks… So don’t fight it if that’s the case.
I agree with your focus on the run, it will be interesting to hear afterwards how the race actually played out. For right now you’re talking a very patient and smart game. 🙂

I think if you have the race you’re looking for the last lap will be pretty hard and a great place for you to pick up a few extra spaces. It’s not over till it’s over! …


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