Training Hacks for Ironman: Traditional Vs. Crossfit

I didn’t do this on purpose for any means, but over the last two years I have completed two Ironman 70.3 distances (Boulder both times) with radically different training programs. Today I looked at my times and think there are some pretty interesting conclusions.

2009: I raced the distance for the first time with pretty beginner, but not poor, gear.  My training was a six day a week, at least an hour a day, schedule.  About 14 hours a week if you included the longer bike ride on Saturday.  Three ‘bricks’ or multi sport days (a run then a bike).  It took a great deal of effort and I was very proud of my first 70.3 distance:

57:23 swim
2:44:14 bike
2:30:18 run
6:18.15 finish time

race report

Recovery from the race took a full week of very sore knees and legs.

2010: There were so many weird things about this year, but I never really got my traditional training into gear.  I was training at Crossfit Roots in Boulder and loved about everything they had.  A intense challenge with a focus on a fun community.  I didn’t have to worry about solo runs or workouts, they had quality coaches to keep you in check and push you when you needed it.  When I raced in August, it was my longest swim, bike and run of the year.  I was proud of my effort as well (especially for my three hours of training a week):

45:14 swim
2:44 bike
2:50 run
6:25:06 finish time

After the race I drove myself to town, had drinks and dinner with friends and went for a nice relaxed run the next day with very little soreness and a massive racing suit tan.

race report (and I got this medal that says I swam 13.1 miles)

Ironman Boulder finisher medal. We swam, biked and swam, according to them. 13.1 swim. Arms still tired. #fail

What does the data tell us?  What did other things contribute to the races (such as, in 2010 it was much hotter and as you can see I bonked on the run).  I finished within seven minutes with completely different training styles.  In 2010 I had a nicer bike but also a foot injury.  Offsets.  I wasn’t a rookie and knew what to expect for my swim (the time shows this) and was more relaxed.

If I were to do it again, I would do Crossfit with some longer bike rides to get my cardio up.  Mix in some 400 meter running sprints and a once a week mile swim (400 meter sprints as well).

The final word: you don’t have to train traditionally for longer endurance events.  My longest workout going into the 2010 race was 38 minutes.

That is crazy talk. It worked well though.

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