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Ironman Training Phase 1: Building My base

by Meghann on January 21, 2013

The time has come. 2013 is officially the year of the Ironman. In a little less than 10 months I will be toeing the starting line of Ironman Florida. I’m excited, nervous, and anxious all at the same time. This isn’t just a race, it’s a full commitment, and I’m ready for it.

Now the question becomes – where does one begin? After two months off, I’m basically starting from the beginning with fresh legs and a fresh spirit. I don’t plan to dive completely into training (it’s way too early for that!), but gradually work myself back into it by building a base: three days a week of running, two days a week of riding, and two days a week of swimming with some strength training thrown in. Gradual, easy stuff to keep my legs fresh and my spirit motivated. In April I’ll start to follow a specific Ironman training plan that I have set aside, but for now it’s easy going.


Tomorrow I’ll join back up with my XP friends for Tuesday and Thursday swim practice. I was all set to return last Thursday when practice was cancelled. darn. I’ve never been much of a swimmer, but training with XP last spring/summer developed a new passion for the sport that I didn’t know was there. It helped having a team that held me accountable to show up for practice, as well as a knowledgeable coach who wasn’t shy about telling me what I was doing wrong or right in order to help me improve.

The twice-a-week practice will bring me back to swimming speed and remind my body what it needs to be doing in the water.



I need a new bike. I need a new bike. I need a new bike.

Man, do I need a new bike.


I just need to bite the bullet and get one. The problem is I know NOTHING about bikes. Bikes aren’t my passion and, when something isn’t your passion, researching it feels like a tedious, boring thing (on the flip side, reading about the latest running shoe is my idea of a good time!). What I need is someone who knows something about bikes to just tell me what to get and where to get it. Oh, and it can’t cost a million dollars. That’s another thing – bikes are pretty expensive and the post-wedding budget is tight right now.

I was proud that I took my bike out for a solo ride on Sunday. I’m hoping to do one semi-long ride on the weekends and one mid-week shorter ride (maybe on the trainer?) in the future. I fell on the trainer earlier in the summer and I haven’t worked up the courage to hop back on it since, I think it’s time to change that. Gulp.


I figured since I’m working on building my endurance base I might as well work on building my speed as well. My 10k and 15k PRs are beyond outdated. In fact, I managed to beat both of them during the St. Pete Rock ‘n’ Roll Half last year. I figured since I have all this extra training time on my hands (and don’t want to burn out on any big races) I would work on beating my 10k time (I’ll save the 15k PR for another day).

I did a little research and found a Runner’s World Smart Coach plan via Pinterest that I plan to follow (I tried making my own Smart Coach plan, but the site was down. bummer.).

Smart Coach Printer Friendly.jpg

I’ve never trained specifically for a 10k before, so this will be a new adventure for me. I like that the plan is only 3-4 days a week of running with a day dedicated to speed work. I plan to adapt the plan a bit for my own goal (I’ll actually be gunning for a sub-48, not sub-50), but still follow the overall gist of it.

My goal race is the 32nd Annual Strawberry Classic 10k on March 23.


It’s a small local race that’s chipped time, strawberry themed, and budget friendly. Score!


I’m going to keep up with CrossFit as long as I can. I’ve really enjoyed the workouts and the people at the box – it’s a pretty addicting workout that provides some great results. However, it’s not cheap and pretty soon Ironman training will take priority. As soon as it gets to be too much to do everything, I plan to cut out CrossFit and focus on Ironman training, it’s as simple as that.


So there’s my building-my-base plan for the next couple of months. It’s nice having a mix of keeping it casual with a good goal thrown in for fun. Last year I made the mistake of going pretty hard in the spring (scoring big PRs for both my half marathon and full marathon). I was burnt out before triathlon season even started and never quite recovered. This year my goal is to race smart and train smart. If that means taking it easy on my race schedule, then so be it – crossing the finish line at Ironman Florida with a smile on my face will make it all worth it. 🙂

1 Katie January 21, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Way to go! This sounds like a great low stress plan before you really get into training!
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2 TorontoRunner January 21, 2013 at 5:07 pm

I think it is absolutely amaaazing you’re doing an Ironman. I’ve never followed a blog through the training of it – very excited for you!
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3 pen January 21, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Why buy a new bike if you hate cycling so much? You can easily do an ironman on a road bike…in fact, some of the courses beg to be raced on a road bike (though, I will concede IMFL is not one of those). If this is going to be a one time thing and you hate cycling and bikes, it seems like a waste of money.

4 Meghann January 21, 2013 at 5:37 pm

I don’t hate cycling, it’s just not my passion of the three sports. I’m also afraid my bike won’t last all 112 miles or through training.

5 karen February 7, 2013 at 3:32 pm

Good on you, the journey to Ironman is a huge but wonderful challenge. I do Ironman NZ in 3 weeks, my second go as last year it was downgraded to a 70.3 because of weather. While I’m a back of the packer and dont expect to go fast my old Scott roadbike is one of the older ones in the field, and looks it, which is a bit of a source of pride when I line up against all of those incredibly expensive flash new bikes. I only just got tri-bars fitted after arguing against it for years, I admit I should have done that earlier. An older bike, some maintenance, extra bits like tri-bars (and I LOVE the new water bottles which attach to them), good tyres etc can definitely get you through Ironman. Go the older bike!

6 meghan January 21, 2013 at 5:26 pm

I love all of these plans and building your base! My 5k and 10k PRs are a bit outdated, so I’m thinking about making that a side goal during the spring and trying for a half PR. I can’t wait to follow your Ironman training!

7 Steph January 21, 2013 at 5:31 pm

Not sure if you have a bike place in mind, but I LOVE Just Ride in Riverview. It’s a smaller bike shop, but they have SO much, the owners have been around there forever, and they’re unbelievably knowledgeable. They take trade ins, and have payment plans. They’ll even rent you a bike for a week to test out, then use the money spent towards the balance if you decide to purchase it. (It’s like $100 a week if I remember). Here’s the link. Give them a shot! I bought my Trek there a few years ago and have been super satisfied. They’ll even give you free tuneups if you buy from them!
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8 Sarah January 21, 2013 at 5:45 pm

So exciting that you are starting your Ironman training. Can’t wait to hear more about it!

9 Victoria (District Chocoholic) January 21, 2013 at 5:55 pm

For your bike shopping, go out NOW to shops – the 2012 tri bikes are probably still out and available at a deep discount. Go find what they have in your size and test ride them. Felt makes some good entry level tri bikes. Cervelo is popular, but I found their lower-end models to be clunky.

But really, don’t wait. Go today or tomorrow. The 2012 closeouts are too good of a deal.
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10 Meghann January 21, 2013 at 7:03 pm

Thanks for the tip!

11 Rae January 23, 2013 at 10:02 am

They usually last through about February, when the new bikes are in full force. Quintana Roos are good too for an entry bike-I love my Chiquilo and have done 2 ironmans on it. It all comes down to comfort, doesnt have to break the bank. Ive seen lots of people do IMs on entry or even road bikes.
Rae recently posted..Beach, football, and running fun!

12 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats January 21, 2013 at 6:36 pm

I am SO EXCITED to follow your training for the ironman! I know it sounds corny, but you are serious inspirational. I’m also hoping to PR in some shorter races this year, after being out with an injury for nearly 3 months now I’m going to focus on shorter distances and maybe a couple halves. And it might be hard to put down some serious cash on a bike, but it’s a huge investment in yourself and your goals, completely worth it.
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13 Laura January 21, 2013 at 7:08 pm

3 days of running, 2 days of biking, & 2 days of swimming… Why no rest days?

14 Meghann January 21, 2013 at 7:11 pm

Trust me, there will be rest days! I’ll be doing two-a-days, so I’ll be running in the morning and swimming in the evening. Or running in the morning and riding at night, etc.

15 Carrie @ Fitness and Frozen Grapes January 21, 2013 at 7:12 pm

Let the Ironman training begin! Like other readers said, tri bike are on sale now, so grab one before they’re gone. 😉 I love my Trek road bike (recently had aerobars installed so I can wait another year before buying a TT), and I’ve heard good things about Cervelo and Felt as well. You’ll have to let us know how the bike-buying process goes!
Carrie @ Fitness and Frozen Grapes recently posted..‘Shorter, Shorter, Quicker, Quicker’

16 Nicole@TheKidlessKronicles January 21, 2013 at 7:42 pm

Good luck with the training! Sounds like you have a good plan and support system.

The Kidless Kronicles
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17 Jean January 21, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Is a trainer not the same thing as a stationary bike (I am such a biking amateur)? Or did you fall off a stationary bike? Sorry, not meaning to be rude, just slightly confused! Although come to think of it, I can definitely see myself falling off a stationary bike…

18 Meghann January 21, 2013 at 8:05 pm

A bike trainer is something to lock your bike into to keep it stationary. Here’s a post I wrote on the one I have: It’s very unstable, which is how I fell.

19 Laura January 21, 2013 at 8:41 pm

I would suggest buying a bike this month/next month if you can. Bikes are like cars and the shops need to move last years models to make room for this years models. I scored a great deal on a bike that way-I got a $1100 bike for around $800.

20 sarah January 21, 2013 at 9:05 pm

what about strength / lifting? you’ll need it to keep strong for all that cardio! and no, running and cycling doesn’t count as strength, even if it feels like it!

21 Meghann January 21, 2013 at 9:19 pm

I plan to keep up with strength training. Did you miss the last section on CrossFit? My plan is to keep up with CrossFit as long as I can while training for the Ironman.

22 Samantha Angela January 21, 2013 at 9:23 pm

I admire your guts for doing this Ironman. I would be nervous as heck just to register for one!
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23 Socal Rachel January 21, 2013 at 9:38 pm

Cycling is my passion of the 3 although I have yet to do a tri. I don’t know if you are looking to get a road bike or tri bike. I have a tri friend and she actually hates her tri bike. They are really only good for going straight, not climbing hills. So that is a vote for road bike. I just purchased my 2nd road bike. I’d recommend a full carbon bike. My first was aluminium and you CAN tell the difference. Also the minimum components (shifters, derailleurs, etc) you want are Shimano 105’s. Shimano Ultegra is a step above that. I can’t comment on Sram components. But either way make sure they aren’t the entry level components no matter what you get. This is going to set you back about $2000, but it is a good bike! Cannondale supersix would fit that bill

When I purchased my bike I pretty much knew what I wanted, I had test ridden my friends bike for the day. I searched on Craig’s list and found the exact bike lightly ridden and a few years old. I saved lots of money this way. You could even test ride at the shop first and see if you luck out on Craig’s list. I even had a cycling friend go with me to check it out too.

Hope this helps!
Socal Rachel recently posted..Christmas Fun Run in Tutu’s

24 Victoria (District Chocoholic) January 21, 2013 at 11:15 pm

(there are, like, no hills on the IMFL course. definitely made for a TT bike and a road bike would be no good.)
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25 Annette @FitnessPerks January 21, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Having a nice base is a very important thing for sure! As is trying the stick with weight training–it makes you a faster & stronger racer. I am excited for you!
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26 Christina January 22, 2013 at 8:24 am

Im thinking of doing my first triathlon (Olympic or Sprint) this year after I finish my goal of running 3-4 half marathons this year. Its my goal to run at least 3 this year! What type of training do you recommend in terms of swimming? Are you part of a masters swim club? Good luck with your base!

27 Emily N January 22, 2013 at 10:56 am

I think its a great plan for building a base until you really start to ramp things up in the summer. but don’t forget to continue SOME strength training even after you leave crossfit to focus on IM!
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28 Meghann January 22, 2013 at 10:58 am

I won’t! I plan to continue to incorporate some form of strength training into my routine. Strength training has always been something I’ve struggled with, but it’s not something I’m ready to give up completely on. 🙂

29 Anna January 22, 2013 at 11:01 am

Wow, I wish you best of luck with your training, remember to take it “easy”, don`t be too hard on yourself and most of all stay healthy and injury free and try to enjoy every step of it. Personally, I`m looking forward to following your training! It will be a long way to go but I`m sure it will be so worth it! Do you have many races planned for the time between now and the Ironman? A 70.3 perhaps?
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30 Meghann January 22, 2013 at 11:09 am

Due to a limited budget, my race season will be relatively limited this year (new bike + full Ironman registration = there goes my budget), but I do have a few triathlons I’m looking at. I’m still debating on a 70.3, if I do one in the fall it will be a local one.

31 Laura January 22, 2013 at 2:43 pm

My bike buying advice would be to visit several different stores, find a knowledgeable salesperson, bring a friend who knows something about bikes and try LOTS of different kinds (w0men’s specific, carbon, road/TRI, etc). The store should let you ride them for at least 20 minutes (up and down hills, around town), otherwise you won’t know what is comfortable. Once I picked out my specialized, I went back to the store for another 30 minute ride to make sure that was the one I wanted. You can also find what you want in the store, and then look on craigslist for a bargain. My husband found a giant road bike, all carbon, nice components from a few years ago for $800. Good luck!

32 Meghan @ After the Ivy League January 22, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Love your plan for training, fascinating to read about. Bikes are super expensive, but if it’s a sport you’re dedicated to and that makes you really happy, it might be worth the money to get one you really want. Justify it by spending less in other areas for a few months. Just an idea!
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33 Steph @321delish January 22, 2013 at 6:39 pm

YAY IMFL Training! Sorry I didn’t make it to practice tonight! Did you sign up for the HITS Ocala tri? Race is on March 24th. Race weekend for Meghann!!
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34 Meghann January 22, 2013 at 7:31 pm

I did not sign up for it. Wasn’t sure I would be ready for it yet. 🙂

35 Bradley January 23, 2013 at 9:05 pm

I like that runner’s world training plan… is that one of the one’s that they sell to runner’s on their website? if you can contact me about it I would very much appreciate it as I have been looking for some training plans for myself.

36 Allison January 24, 2013 at 12:43 pm

For bike questions, go to Carrollwood Bike Emporium…they’re really helpful and have a ton of bikes/bike gear for sale!

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