2017 Review and 2018 Plan

Coming into Finish

As I did last year, I thought it would be helpful too look back at the last year. As a result this is my 2017 review and 2018 plan. My intention is to review accomplishments, my training for what worked and didn’t, and use this to plot my 2018 plan.

2017 By the Numbers

By all measures I had a great 2017. The below table shows the progression over the last few years of my training.

Year Activities Hours Miles PRs
2017 215 203 2,568 110
2016 193 182 2,126 60
2015 281 221 2,241 152
2014 188 146 1,387 77
2013 128 107 1,045 51
2012 59 33 222 4

Breakdown by triathlon specific sport/discipline was as follows:

  • Swim – 40,383 yards (13 hours)
  • Bike – 1,951 miles (116 hours)
  • Run – 352 miles (52 hours)

Looking back, I still struggled a bit with consistency. One thing I struggled with a bit last year was lack of consistency in my training. I had a solid January and February, but starting March – May were a bit lighter. These months tend to have a lot of spring “life” events. To have a more successful 2018 I’m going to need to make sure I don’t allow myself to drop consistency and volume during these months this year.

I was able to repeat winning my new 35-39 age group at the Pitch Pine Olympic Triathlon. I also completed three Half Ironman distance races this year and one with a fantastic new PR despite a flat tire.

Men's 35-39 Podium
Men’s 35-39 Podium

Read on for more

Lessons Learned

Throughout 2017 there were a few things I learned when looking back at my training.

Swim Performance With Limited Training

I spent almost two hours less this year swimming which equated to 10,000 yards. It should also be noted that 5,500 yards (2 hours worth) was a year-end swim with some teammates. So in reality, I spent only about 11 hours in 2017 swimming. That’s it…11 hours. While I was surprised last year on limited swim training, I was again surprised by even less this year. 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 athlete in me would love to spend more time in pools honing skill, but the realist is understanding of time commitments and distance from a pool. Again, for 2018 the goal will be to maintain swim fitness which will mean spending more time in a pool come April/May.

NEMS New Year’s Swim

Bike Performance, Fit, and Power

As I enter my second full year training with a power meter, I couldn’t be more exited for FTP and power gains in 2018. I saw a significant increase in my power and some excellent triathlon races as a result of being able to pace myself better. In many cases, I did NOT ride as hard on a RPE scale on the bike, but due to higher FTP and pacing, my runs were significantly better this year.

I also realized that after getting a new saddle last year and working on my bike fit, I still was not experiencing the comfort I expected by switching from the “stock” Felt saddle to an ISM PN1.1. After contacting ISM’s excellent customer service team, it was recommended that I switch to a little wider ISM PL1.1. With a little bit of tweaking, I’m much more comfortable now, although I still have a few tweaks I can make.

Run Consistency

One of the things I strove to do in 2017 was as the weather got warmer to attempt as many runs as possible outside. The area where I live is just hilly enough to cause the body to get stronger running. It turns out running outdoor was a great idea and resulted in some fantastic run splits and smashing nearly every triathlon run goal I had this year.

All smiles. Just getting started

Race Wheels Make a Huge Difference

In 2017 I acquired a set of Flo race wheels. It was amazing to feel the difference of an aero wheel. The wheels never felt like a parachute, always felt like they accelerated, and coupled with some Continental GP4000s ii tires, I was in bike heaven. I went with the Flo 90 Aluminum/Carbon on the rear and the Flo 60 up front. I encourage you to read this article they posted back in the fall. It’s titled “How slower wheels can make you faster.” Spoiler alert, the moral of the story is to get wheels you feel comfortable on so you stay in aero longer. It makes no sense to put two deep wheels on your bike that you can’t control and wind up sitting up on the bull horns because you aren’t in control. YOU are the largest cause of drag on your bike. Not your wheels, not your frame, not your helmet.

Still Figuring Out Nutrition

During 2017 I messed around with nutrition a bit. I learned that Infinit and I do not agree with each other. While I really wanted to like the product as it was a team sponsor, I have nothing against the product or company. It’s just that I’ve learned I have a relatively weak GI system when it comes to racing. I need real food. Some things that I tried this year included eliminating Clif bars and replacing them with Honey Stinger waffles and Nature’s Bakery Fig bars. They worked great. I still have the Feedzone Portables book which I never really picked up again last year to try out recipes. We’ll try to get to that this year.

Real Food Should Be Better than bars and gels

The Training Plan

Last year I felt like I had excellent success with the TrainerRoad triathlon training plans. I bumped up to the Mid-volume plan this year and was measurably better than the low volume plan I did last year. The mid volume plan added much more stress which my body reacted pretty well too in the weeks leading up to my A races. That said, my training volume is still quite low compared to many of my peers. I think this is a testament to the TrainerRoad philosophy and how shorter high intensity workouts can be a good substitute for long and slow.

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. 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 for higher performance output
  • Build – Allow the engine to run longer at the higher performance output
  • Specialty – Tune the engine to meet the specific needs of your event

The point here is to NOT skip, miss, or otherwise fail at the base and build phases. I plan on using the exact same plan this year. Unlike last year, I plan on striving to get something…anything in even if it means I have to perform half the scheduled time for the day. As I previously mentioned, I didn’t hit all my mid-season workouts which had an effect on my first race of the year. The one thing TrainerRoad (and it’s podcast) has taught me is that any time you reduce duration, you need to increase intensity. Fortunately, there are many TrainerRoad workouts in their libraries and many have a “minus” version. The minus versions shorten the duration which might help with consistency this year. I’ll need to balance a new job and more events for my kids with training. Others have done it so I’ll figure it out too.

Training Plans

I should mention that my TrainerRoad training plans post is by far my most popular with thousands of views this year. While these plans work well for me and my goals, I sometimes get asked by friends or total strangers for coach recommendations. I have two recommendations.

I’ve watched many of my friends and teammates complete their first Half Ironman, Full Ironman, marathon, half marathon, etc. due to the coaching they received from Peak Triathlon Coaching. They have some great coaches and can help you meet your goals. If athletic performance is the name of your game, they can help you. Peak has resources to make you a better athlete in each discipline including the fourth…nutrition. They have coached some of the world’s best athletes and many who are competitive age groupers. I assure you they have the experience and knowledge to get your triathlon game to the next level.

My second recommendation is for people who may be intimidated by all the talk of power meters, FTP, % of threshold, etc. See, triathlon can be an incredibly technical sport fraught with many questions and few resources to answer them. Triathlon can also be an intensely private sport. By this I mean we are often slaving on trainers, running by ourselves, and sharing swim lanes with complete strangers. But Granite Performance understands that some people need not just the training plan on what to do each day, but also motivation, cheerleading, and laughing at ourselves for the craziness of this sport. Sometimes a person’s goal in an event is just to finish that first Sprint Triathlon while another’s might be to place in their age group.

So yes…my coach recommendations are Peak Triathlon and Granite Performance.

How I’m Tracking Improvement

It is no surprise that I like technology and gadgets. I updated and wrote a new a post about the metrics I look at and track. Interestingly, this post has received several hundred views this year and was shared by HRV4Training to its users.

2018 will see me continue to use Golden Cheetah as the corner stone of my training tracking. It has many of the features that can be found in TrainingPeaks but it is significantly more customizable. The things that I know I need to work on and the metrics I care to track can be instantly created and put into the software. As with other posts I wrote this year, this one has received almost 1,000 page views this year despite it being posted in August. I’ll be using this software to track improvements in FTP, running pacing, weight and body fat trends, and ensuring my fatigue and training stress are on target for my races.

2018 Half Ironman Goal

I have several events on the calendar for 2018. Two of these are Half Ironman distance. I’m setting a stretch goal for one of these events to come in around 5 hours 10 minutes.

SplitsTime
Swim0:35:00
(1:39/100 yds)
T10:03:00
Bike2:40:00
(21 mph)
T20:02:00
Run1:50:00
(8:23/mile)
Total5:10:00

As a comparison, my 2017 Half Ironman time breakdown was:

SplitsTime
Swim0:35:34
(1:41/100 yds)
T10:06:35
Bike2:53:18
2:42:35 - without flat tire
(20.6 mph)
T20:02:12
Run1:55:09
(8:47/mile)
Total5:32:48
5:21:30 - without flat tire

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 2018 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
  • Shed some pounds
  • Triumph over a poor race. I didn’t have a great last race and made it tough to find motivation to train.

Maverick Multisport Team…Discontinued

I was both surprised and humbled to be selected on the Maverick Multisport team last year. We had some great perks as members of the team. Unfortunately, for 2018 the team has been disbanded and shut down. It’s unfortunate as I was looking to not only race again in the kit I purchased last year, but I did make some new friends, shared some PRs, and had some help with bike positioning. Despite the team being shut down, it was worth the year racing in Maverick colors. For 2018, I’ll be back racing for Northeast Multisport.