Monday, June 01, 2020

For a July Ironman like Lake Placid, I start training in December. There are 40 minute swims at 5 a.m., 60 minute indoor bike rides at 4:30 and the occasional six to eight mile run in the snow.

That’s called the «base phase.» By March, I start adding volume.

(It gets louder?)

I start adding distance. This is called the «build stage» of training and it will last until the first week of July. Swimming increases from 2,000 meters to 5,000 meters.

(You swim a 5k???)


(How long does it take you to swim a 5k?)

1 hour and 40 minutes.

(What do you think about for 1 hour and 40 minutes?)

Many things: my next blog, my next meal...

During the build phase, biking increases from 20 miles in the house to 120 miles on the road.

(Without stopping???)

Just for red lights and stop signs.

(What do you do for food?)

Protein shake in bottle one, Gatorade in bottles two, three and four.

(Any solid food?)

I shove a couple cliff bars in my pockets.

(What pockets?)

My bike Jersey has pockets. The running increases from 6.2 miles to 20 miles.

(Why not run a full marathon?)

The research has shown that the maximum training run should be in the 20-22 mile range.

Beyond those distances, you increase risk of injury, but do not gain any mitochondrial development.

(What are mitochondria and why do I want to develop them?)

They are the powerhouse of the cell and the source of energy for your muscles.

(Wait. Didn’t you once run 27 miles in training?)

I did, but that was because I was running home from work and I got lost.

(So is all you do is just «adding volume»?)

No. There are intervals. These are workouts that are designed to build speed and strength.

(For example...)

For example, a 90 minute indoor bike workout that varies in speed and intensity.

(Why not just ride all out for 90 minutes?)

Nothing grows in your comfort zone, right?

(I guess.)

So any weight lifter will tell you that «shocking» your system will cause the greatest growth.

(How do you shock a system and is that even safe?)

The safe way to do that is in small steps. Instead of 90 minutes of all-out effort, how about 10 minutes of all-out effort followed by 10 minutes of easy pedaling, followed by 10 minutes of all-out effort....

(How about I sit on the couch and eat through a pint of Ben & Jerry’s?)

If your 90 minutes looks like this:

10 easy (warm up)

10 all out

10 easy

10 all out

10 easy

10 all out

10 easy

10 all out 

10 easy (cool down)

After a few weeks the all-out effort become longer and the easy become shorter.

You will become faster in a shorter amount of time than if you had done the 90 minutes all out.

(Pass the Ben & Jerry’s, I’m tired just reading this.)

It’s the science of exercise physiology. 

(So why do long swims, bikes and runs?)

Because your body can’t tell how far you traveled, only how long you have been traveling. You have to acclimate it to rotating your shoulders for 90 minutes. Your butt needs to get use to sitting on a bike seat for eight hours. Your feet, your knees, your hips all have to come to terms with 15 + hours on constant motion.

By David Roher


David Roher is a USAT certified marathon and triathlon coach. He is a veteran special education teacher & a multi Ironman finisher. He can be reached at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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