2016 Review and 2017 Plan

As I did last year, I thought it would be helpful too look back at the last year. As a result this is my 2016 review and 2017 plan. My intention is to review accomplishments, my training for what worked and didn’t, and use this to plot my 2017 plan.

2016 By the Numbers

By all measures I had a good 2016. The below table shows the progression over the last few years of my training.

YearActivitiesHoursMilesPRs
20161931822,12660
20152812212,241152
20141881461,38777
20131281071,04551
201259332224

Breakdown by triathlon specific sport/discipline was as follows:

  • Swim – 50,175 yards (14 hours)
  • Bike – 1,710 miles (110 hours)
  • Run – 364 miles (53 hours)

One thing I struggled with a bit last year was lack of consistency in my training. I had a pretty solid early winter, but as part of moving to a new home, took quite a bit of time “off” as many waking moments were spent packing or preparing the home to be sold. Once we arrived at the new home, there was unpacking and “fixing” the new home. Either way, my 2016 season suffered in some cases.

During the course of 2016 I saw my first age group win at the Pitch Pine Olympic Triathlon despite a challenging 2016 season.

Triathletes Like to Win
I’ll never complain about top step

Read on for more

Lessons Learned

Throughout 2016 there were a few things I learned when looking back at my training.

Swim Performance With Limited Training

I only spent 14 hours throughout 2016 swimming. That’s it…14 hours. Despite an extremely limited amount of time spent training for the swim, I still was able to swim a 35 minute Half Ironman swim time. It’s very surprising to me that my body position in the water and retained fitness was enough to carry me through a reasonable swim time. The goal for 2017 will be to maintain that fitness. Given my pool is 35 minutes away (each way), I’m not planning on focusing much time on swim this year other than to build a base fitness to remain comfortable in the water. From my view, I don’t see how, given competing priorities, investing a lot of time in the pool will result in large gains on race day. I figure with many hours in the pool the most I could pick up is 5 minutes or so on race day. In contrast, similar investments of time on a bike or run for me can yield significant improvement.

This is a pool. Perhaps I should swim a bit more.

Bike Performance and a Power Meter

Right around this time last year, my power meter arrived. I began training with it, learning how it worked and structuring my training and race plan around it. Overall, I saw increases in FTP and runs off the bike generally much more comfortable than before I used a power meter. I did, however often feel that I left more out on the bike course as I hadn’t pushed the pedals as hard as I probably should have which resulted in a better feeling run.

I also realized that after getting a new saddle my fit on the bike wasn’t comfortable and was likely holding back what I could accomplish on the bike. This past fall, I worked with the saddle’s customer support team and switched up the position rather drastically. Immediately after the switch I saw an increase in power, engagement of my glute muscles, and otherwise a far more comfortable position on the bike. I’m encouraged by the changes made and can’t wait to see how a winter’s worth of indoor training will translate outdoors. My Half Ironman time last year on the bike was just over 3 hours. My number one goal is to get this time well below what I rode previously targeting under 2 hours 45 minutes. Given a new position and changing to a medium volume training plan, I think this is quite doable.

Running as a Limiter

Looking back at many of my runs this past year, I recognized that the majority of my runs were on a treadmill. In many cases it was because I was running late at night and it was convenient. My run times got worse over 2016. Again, this was mostly due to inconsistent training, but also low run volume and not focusing enough energy on this discipline. Aside from the bike goal above, my desire is to crack the 2 hour half-marathon time during a Half Ironman distance race. My PR in a half marathon is around 1:45 so sub two hours seems quite doable with some structured training. In addition, I’m looking to conduct more of my runs outdoors and not on a treadmill.

I have some pretty solid hills near me and think running less on a treadmill will help out here.

Let’s get some more outdoor miles in shall we?

Nutrition as a Fourth Discipline

2016 was a year about finding what food and fluids worked for me. I was pleased to see that I got closer to understanding what I needed for fluid and nutrition in 2016, but still ended races dehydrated and feeling like garbage. During 2017, I am looking forward to trying some product from our sponsor Infinit as a part of Maverick Multisport and adding some “real” food during activity. I got the Feed Zone Portables book for Christmas and am so far impressed by the discussion of the science behind what’s going on in our guts during quite demanding activity. Thinking about what I had been doing, I still have a ways to go before I attain GI “bliss” during an activity. My true test will be how I feel at the end of my 70.3 races this year.

Real Food Should Be Better than bars and gels

The Training Plan

Last year I felt like I had good success with the TrainerRoad triathlon training plans. I selected the “low volume” plan last year as I was time crunched and thought that would give me the fitness I needed for my racing. Overall, I’d say the low volume was good, but as a replacement for higher volume, the plan added higher intensity. This is well and good, except as I previously mentioned, I was less than consistent in my training.

I wrote a whole post about the TrainerRoad training plans, which I encourage you to check out. If you are on a limited budget like I am it is a great bang for your buck. One thing I hadn’t realized until I looked back at 2016 was that I missed a good portion of the training plan that actually made you “faster”. TrainerRoad separates their plans into phases which are Base, Build, and Speciality. I like to think as the phases as related to cars:

  • Base – Grow the size and speed of the engine
  • Build – Allow the engine to run longer
  • Specialty – Tune the engine to meet the specific needs of your event

I mostly skipped the base phase. So while I felt “good” in each of my events, I wasn’t faster. In 2017 I’m looking to hit as many prescribed workouts as possible and thus not only be consistent but up the volume a bit too.

Training Plans

Cancellation & Replacement of Races

I was very disappointed to learn that my favorite race (Ironman Timberman 70.3) was going to be cancelled for 2017. As I understand it, there were a number of reasons ranging from politics (and cost) to competing events along the race course. Either way, Timberman will not be happening for me in 2017. In its place are three new 70.3 events. So while I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to benchmark my 70.3 time against the same course, I have three new courses this year to test my fitness.

Timberman 70.3 Cancelled In 2017

Metrics to Track

It is no surprise that I like technology and gadgets. I even wrote a post about the metrics I look at and track. For 2017 I have several new or updated training weapons at my disposal.

Weight

Close to every day for the last year or so I went through a manual process to log my weight in a variety of tools:

  • MyFitnessPal
  • TrainingPeaks
  • Strava
  • Google Fit
  • TrainerRoad
  • Garmin Connect
  • Golden Cheetah

Each of these are tools that I use for specific purposes. As one would imagine, this cumbersome process turned into days not getting logged. For me, there is a direct correlation with how I perform and how much I weigh. In many cases, fast weight loss means dehydration which is not the kind of weight loss I want. So, for Christmas, I got a smart scale that can update most of the sites listed above automatically. This will allow me to keep track of my weight, fluid levels, and impact on performance much easier.

FTP & 20/60 Minute Sustained Power

As I have a year of power meter data under my belt, I have begun to see correlations between training stress and maximum sustained power. During 2017 I will be keeping an eye not only on my FTP and trying to improve it, but also track my 20 minute and 60 minute maximum sustained power. Now yes, given that much of my training is done indoors with a specific TrainerRoad workout, this may not be the best metric to track. This is also why I have a chart in Golden Cheetah that tracks 5, 10, 20, 30, and 60 minute power. Are these improving? That’s the goal.

Power over a variety of durations

Running Paces

Similar to the cycling FTP metrics, I’ve setup a running dashboard in Golden Cheetah as well. I’m tracking 5, 20, and 60 minute maximum average paces. This will help me identify whether I’m getting better or not. As you can see, over the last year or so, my runs have been rather flat (don’t mind that November spike as it was a family Thanksgiving 5k).

Pace over a variety of durations

Power to Weight

There is this great chart in TrainingPeaks that easily shows you your power to weight ratio. See, there’s a concept that all things equal on a moderate to hilly course, two people both producing 200 watts, but one weighing 200 pounds and the other 150 will not finish at the same time. The person who weighs less should beat a heavier person if they are both producing the same power. I know one of my weaknesses is both longer duration sustained power as well as maintaining a good race weight. This chart pulls both of my goals and metrics above together.

Power To Weight

2017 Half Ironman Goal

I have several events on the calendar for 2017. Three of these are Half Ironman distance. I’m setting a stretch goal for one of these events to come in around 5 hours 20 minutes.

SplitsTime
0:35:05
(1:39/100 yds)
0:35:00
(1:39/100 yds)
T10:03:00
Bike2:45:00
(20.4 mph)
T20:02:00
Run1:55:00
(8:35/mile)
Total5:20:00

As a comparison, my 2016 Half Ironman time breakdown was:

SplitsTime
0:35:05
(1:39/100 yds)
0:35:05
(1:39/100 yds)
T10:03:06
Bike3:01:56
(18.5 mph)
T20:02:41
Run2:09:30
(9:53/mile)
Total5:52:18

In order to be able to knock off a half hour of time it is clear that I need to focus on my bike and run performance. If all these plans fall in line, I’ll be extremely happy. So, as I look forward to the next year, I need to do for 2017 is to:

  • Train consistently on the bike increasing sustained power
  • Be consistent on my runs increasing speed and ability to transition off the bike
  • Maintain my feel for the water, but not focus on “improving anything”
  • Nail nutrition and hydration on and off the bike
  • Eat better and evaluate impact on weight

Maverick Multisport Team

I was both surprised and humbled to be selected on the Maverick Multisport team. This team has fantastic sponsors, a seemingly great community, and people who will motivate each other during the year. I’m very much looking forward to kicking off the 2017 training season and representing my team and sponsors during the year. For those interested, my race calendar is up to date. I look forward to racing with old friends and meeting new ones. Here’s to a successful 2017!