Reply To: Half complete

Chris Jackson

A note from our head coach and intrepid traveler AJ, who is out of the country and blocked from accessing the forum…


Congratulations, Cindy, on your first Half Ironman! White Lakes HIM is definitely known to be a very challenging race. While I haven’t done this race personally, I have done Timberman more times than I can count and I can attest to both the challenging yet rewarding terrain on New Hampshire! We are pleased to hear that the training program was helpful and helped you get to the finish line of your race. Of course, this is also a good testament to your hard work and dedication to the training program! So nice work!

That said, Cindy, did you have any of the same fatigue/second guessing yourself feelings going into your Half Ironman? Just curious before I share my feedback!

However I don’t want to waste anymore time responding to the feedback shared on the forum. First off, thank you for sharing your feelings and feedback. All of you are correct! The way we get you ready for your Half Ironman is to make you fatigue resistant to take on this new distance. And yes, that means that we need to fatigue you first and then rest (taper). You will be surprised how great you then feel for race day.

A couple of caveats…this should be the case if you have followed the training plan and your corresponding HR zones. If not, you could be in an overtraining situation or just flirting with this fine line. If you have done all of your longer workouts truly in zone 2 and then took your rest week leading into race specific workouts, you should be fatigued but not spent. Long workouts are meant to be done at an easy pace for this reason, which is why training for this distance is not meant for speed. I know everyone keeps talking about getting faster. You have been training for endurance NOT speed. Let’s just be pleased, like Cindy, for completing the distance. Then with the experience, you can start working on completing this distance at a faster speed.

I digress…Then with your rest week between your peak (endurance) longer but easier workouts, you then head into race specific workouts. They are a zone higher (zone 3, race specific) but shorter. Therefore you should be fatigued but not depleted. When you are fatigued, there is mental fatigue, as well as physical fatigue. Thus this is why many of you are feeling the way you are. Just do what you can with your race specific workouts. If you can’t manage the full workout, get in some of the race specific efforts (to minimize cramping) but scale back on the overall volume of the workout. You don’t want to drop all race specific efforts if possible since this is what primes your body to race at this paced. Otherwise, in a race setting, this is typically what causes cramping.

Finally, due to the mental and physical fatigue, it is not unusual that you are not getting a higher LT result with your baseline test. In fact, I am surprised that some of you have received fitness progress, as a result of your baseline tests, at this point. This is a true testament of your overall fitness progress, which is why we retest right before your race. This way you have your most current HR zones to work with for your race plan (!!) and your race. However if you did not see improvements, this is not unusual. You are under a heavy volume and mental and physical fatigue. That does not mean that you have not gained fitness. Obviously you have but it’s more in the form of endurance, not as much in speed. Remember LT is your threshold of zone 4. This is not what we are training with half Ironman training. Yes, an increase LT is often a by product of this training but this is not what we are exclusively training. If you want to keep increasing your LT, you need to focus on sprint and Olympic distance (ie speed).

Finally, the best way to minimize the second guessing of yourself is to start working on your race plan! This is the whole purpose of the race plan. The more prepared you are the less you can second guess yourself. Now that you have your HR baseline tests complete (again), you have all that you need to start working on your race plan. So in an effort to calm those nerves and start getting you into race mode, you have homework. Get that race plan in place and you minimize the room for second guessing.

In the end, everything you are feeling is normal unless you have pushed too hard on your longer, easier (zone 2) workouts throughout the season or have not gotten adequate rest. I am traveling for continuing education learning right now and one of the coaches state that overtraining should really be called ‘under-sleeping’ or ‘under-recovery.’ All of life stresses add into this equation not just training itself. They are not mutually exclusive. So rest up, get that race plan in place and you should be good and ready for Williamsburg HIM! Trust in the process!’

Thank you!