March 20, 2016

Choosing your Team Z training plan for 2016

Choosing your training plan for the first half of 2016

 *Just b/c you train easier than you are capable of, it does not make it wrong.   Just because you train easier than you are capable of, it does not mean you can’t race your ass off and crush previous personal records*

After this email ”“ if you have questions EMAIL ME (

Over the next several weeks the workouts for M-F are easy by design. But that does not mean off.   Pick your programs and focus on the easy stuff during the week and DO (GET OFF YOUR BUTT) the long stuff on the weekends. The weekend stuff is the single most important thing over the next month and if you wait 4 weeks you WILL BE IN TROUBLE.  

Guidance on choosing your plan for the first half of   this year.   This is for everyone, not just Ironman people. When you see me write “Ironman people” ”“ everyone is included in terms of reading it.   THE LOGIC APPLIES ACROSS THE BOARD!

In this email:

  1. Picking the plan
  2. Why you might have picked the wrong plan


  1. Picking the plan


IF your goal is to race sprint and Olympic Distance programs for the first half of the summer of 2016 (The “Under 70.3 Program”):   Your Goal A race should be the Rev 3 Williamsburg International Distance Triathlon.

Which one of these people are you?


  1. Very important! If you can’t currently do a combination run/walk 2-3 miles, or bike 10-15 miles at an EASY pace – or if this makes you nervous for any reason – Please speak with your coach after the kickoff session so we can tailor a plan for you.     And I really dig doing this so don’t hesitate to ask.
  • I can currently mix up a run and/or walk for 2-3 miles and I like to ride my bike ”“ probably 10-15 is pretty easy for me.   I’m kind of looking to start pretty slow.   Clinics will be my focus and I’m sure the first few month of simply adjusting to structure will be my main priority. And I promise to ask coaches and workout leaders EVERY QUESTION as it pops into my mind so that I will progress and surprise myself weeks, months, and even years from now. Follow Under 70.3 Track 1.
  • I can currently run (not walk) 4 miles and/or bike for 25 miles or so at an easy pace without being sore the next day.     I may or may not have done speed work before, and I would likely not have classified myself as an athlete thus far in my life ”“ Or at least it may have been a long while.   My goal is to finish, and have fun.   FOLLOW (U) under 70.3 TRACK 2.
  • I can currently run 8-9 or more miles and/or bike for 40-50 miles or so at an easy pace, like I just only ate a lollipop.     I’ve likely raced a ton and I’m pretty much a self-described badass.   My goal is to finish, and have fun while I make other’s cry when I catch them right at the finish line.   (THERE SHOULD BE ALMOST NONE IF NOT NONE OF YOU ON THIS PLAN).   FOLLOW (U) under 70.3 TRACK 3.
  • Are you are this experienced and more fit than those descriptions, for real, definitely ”“ see coach Ed please.


IF your goal is to race 1/2 Ironman in the first half of the season (by July), your Goal Race will be Rev 3 Williamsburg ½ Ironman.

Which one of these people are you?

  • Very important! If you can’t currently run 5-6 miles at a pretty easy pace, or bike for 20-30 miles at an EASY pace WIHTOUT being sore the next day- please consider following and Under 70.3 program for the first half of the season (through July) or speak with your coach.
  • I believe that I can currently run 5-6 miles at a pretty easy pace, or bike for 20-30 miles at an easy pace without being sore the next day.   I may or may not have never done speed work before, and I may or may not have classified myself as a competitive athlete thus far in my life.   My goal is to finish, and have fun.   FOLLOW 70.3 TRACK 1.
  • I believe that I can currently run 8 or so strong miles and/or bike for 40 miles or so at an easy pace.   I likely have done speed work before, and probably have done some racing in the past.   My goal is to finish, and have fun ”“ but push myself pretty hard.   FOLLOW 70.3 TRACK 2.
  • I can currently run 14-15 or more miles and/or bike 70-80 miles or so without being very sore the next day.   I have done speed work before and I’m pretty much a racing monster.   My goal is race like I’m escaping from prison and I’m willing to risk exploding on the course. FOLLOW 70.3 TRACK 3. AND THEN PLEASE SEE COACH ED (there should be almost nobody in this start group joining this training plan).
  • If you are stronger than that ”“ also see coach Ed please.


IF your goal is to race an Ironman this year,   (the “140.6 Program”) your A race for the end of the season will be Ironman Lake Placid (closed) or Ironman Maryland (it is still open for entry).  

Ironman USA will NOT race Rev 3 b/c it is too close to your race.   However ”“ swim for life is the same weekend as Rev 3 and it will be a perfect practice swim for you.   Ironman Md people ”“ you follow that plan from day 1 but it WILL have you racing Rev 3 Half with the team.   I will rest you for two weeks and you’ll expect to race well with the entire team.


  1. Ironman Md. If you can run 6-7 or so miles and 40 or so miles without much trouble (this weekend), Ironman Maryland is more than realistic as a goal.   See coach Ed if interested.   And or ENTER NOW before it fills up.  Md people should follow a MD program starting now ”“ we will incorporate Rev 3 Half but that is not your training plan or you’re a race.
    • If you are racing Ironman Maryland    ”“ follow track 1 unless you have been using Vo2Max Testing Data and Heart Rate Training for at least 6 months to 1 year MD Track 1 is at 7 at 6 and 30-40 miles this weekend
    • Track 2 is at
    • Track 3 is at
    • Track 4 is none of your business unless you talk to me.
    • Ironman Md people ”“ we have much more time to prepare you than LP ”“ so your long ride weekends will be a bit more spread a part and look something like this
      • 30,40, 40, R, 50, 60, R, 50, Kinetic or short brick, R, 70, race rock hall, R, 3 hr brick or Race Syracuse 70.3, 80, R, Williamsburg, 90, r, 100, 110, r, Luray, 120, R, Patriots aquabike, 40, race.
    • If you are racing Ironman Lake Placid ”“ follow track 1 unless you have been using Vo2Max Testing Data and Heart Rate Training for at least 6 months to 1 year.   You should be at 11-12 mile runs and 60-70 mile bike rides by this point in your training.   Lake Placid people will NOT race Rev 3.
      1. IMLP Track 1 is at 10 and 60 miles this weekend
      2. Track 2 and 3 (and 4) are currently at the same long run volume. But weekday volume in May varies and the level of intensity picks up.
      3. Track 4 is none of your business unless you talk to me.
      4. Long rides have no room for error for LP ”“ we are too close. Your builds look like this (each number is a weekend in consecutive order, with “R” representing a recovery week.
        • Start from today: 50, 60, 70, R, 80, 90, Race Rumpus or Westfield or Off, 100 (mothers day), Kinetic Half or 3.5 hr ride 1.5 hr run, R, 110, Rock Hall both days or 3.5 hr ride and 1.5 hour run, R, Syracuse or 4.5 hour brick, 120, rest, 40, 30, Ironman.
        • You are going to be tired.
      5. If you are racing an Ironman other than Lake Placid or Maryland ”“ please see coach Ed.  


  1. Why you might have picked the wrong plan

Only around   10-20 of you on TeamZ should be on track 3 or 4.

  • I’m not kidding.
  • If you think you should be on track 3, you better have been on this team for 3 years or more and been Vo2 max tested on both the bike and the run by Coach Mierke at least twice.
  • Most of you will be on Track 1 or 2.   You should be on track 1 or 2.
  • What track you are on has absolutely ZERO bearing on how fast you go when you are new to this sport and a novice with leveraging the science.
  • I am willing to bet that 5 of the top 10 finishers for our team at Lake Placid and Ironman Maryland are on Track 1 or Track 2.
  • I’m also willing to be that maybe 2-3 of them are first time triathletes this year and they followed track1.

Ironman people ”“ Your training is just plain (expletive) hard enough).   Don’t train even harder b/c you think the harder you train and the farther you go that you will be faster. That is archaic and what we used to coach by 20-30 years ago.

  • I’ve seen track 1 deliver 11:30 at least twice (one was me, and my program was actually easier than Track 1 except for the track workouts). And my Vo2Max on the run was in the mid 50’s which is fairly high.
  • Then ”“ I coached a girl with a Vo2max of 28 and she won almost every race she entered.
  • You don’t need track three to go fast.   Track 3 is hard.   Track 4 is a bitch and I should probably not even publish them.
  • How fast you go depends on gift, consistency, and training in a “not over-trained” environment with a sharp mind, fit and uninjured body, new found energy, and 20 x more fun at workouts.

They all look the same right now, don’t they? Track 1 to 4 for this month.   You don’t think it’s a difference?   Track 4 is easy this week ”“ you think it’s the choice for you because of that??   You just look at minutes during the week and don’t think about how that translates into miles? I mean what’s the difference between a Monday run of “off or 20-40 minutes” and a Monday run of “70 minutes”.   For a 10 minute miler, the difference is between 7 and 3 miles.   For Monday only.    Wait until 3 months from now, and then tell me how similar the plans are.

For an example:  

  • I just added Ironman Track 1 program for a week in January where they will run between 22 miles and 26 miles. Track 4 will run 36-38 miles that same week. That’s for a 10 minute mile runner. Multiply that by 3 build weeks in a month ”“ 66 miles vs. 114. That’s MASSIVE.
  • For an under 70.3 person: Track 2 can be 7 miles vs. 17 in one given week.   And ”“ the 17 has Zone 4 in it about 50% where the Track 2 is at Z2.   This is earlier in the season so  expect the variance to grow.   And Track 4 will be vomiting on the track in 100 degree heat every Wednesday and track 1 will be in Zone 4.   Track 1 will ride 30 miles in Zone 2. Track 4 that day will go 40-50 with 2 hrs of race pace in the middle (Z4/Z5a).

You should all be on Track 1 or 2.   Track 3 ”“ 3 years or more of consistent training (and that does not count if you took off a year here or there), with multiple Vo2 Max tests. Track 4 ”“ talk to me.

Try it, vets.   Try it.   See how fast your workouts are and how good you feel when you step back one program, one time.  Once “it’s” happened once, and you’ve gotten that “high” ”“ you’ll never go back. Heartrate is king.


Another antidote:   Skip it if you just want to pick a plan and move forwards.

I wrote this to a new Zr this weekend that is being mentored by our very own Kona Chris.   Holder of Lake Placid Course Records, the title of Grand Master (GMC- Grand Master Chris), and of Course an Ironman Champion who holds a world record which he broke by around 30 minutes.   Chris’ background is important b/c people just don’t come with a better “gift” than Chris.   This is something your parents give you. Then you develop it.   Very few people have this gift.   But he did, and I recognized it very early on and tried to fire him for years before he finally left for a big time coach after his first course record set at Ironman.

This is the conversation I had with Chris’ Team Z Mentee, who also has a gifted engine.   I don’t think it’s quite what Chris has, but we have yet to see b/c he is RAW and untrained.


The conversation follows ”“ Ed speaking to Team Z new Athlete (Jan start group).

[Wait. Wait a minute.  If you are doing IMMD you should follow that plan and not Rev 3 ½.   And – definitely IM MD Traing Plan track 1.   NO question about it.   Trust me, just trust me.   DO NOT do Track 2.   This is what you pay me for.   Track 2 may look easy now, yes ”“ but it is LONG LONG Season and I’ll be kicking your ass by the end of May.   June and July get worse.   August will *expletive* you up.      I only use that language b/c I know you and that’s what will sink in.   J

In August ”“ here’s three weeks in a row for Track 1.  

  • Weekend 1 – 12 mile run, 110 mile ride.
  • Weekend 2 – ace (Luray). Maybe/likely both days
  • Weekend 3 – 120 mile ride and 20 mile run.

That’s Track 1.   If you don’t think that is hard enough let me see you at track in a few weeks and I’ll punch you in the gut.   Or the mouth.   Or the”¦between your legs.   J   Kidding.   Trust me ”“ track 1 track 1 track 1.   Stick with your Vo2Max test numbers ”“ even if you think they are too easy.   If you have not tested both, do so now.   Then in mid-July lets test them again.   You’ll crush IMMD.

(Now I’m talking to this athlete’s mentor, Chris ”“who is easily the most gifted Team Zr ever and possibly in the world.  

Chris ”“ Just an FYI – we did not even have a track 3  until your third Ironman ”“ you were 1or 2 the first year, 2or 3 the second ”“ and I wrote Track 3 SPECIFICALY for YOU after 2-3 solid years of training.   We had nobody else on our team who belonged there.   Then, when you still did not break ”“ I wrote a track 4 for your and you always told me you “felt fine” while the rest of our team was dragging ass on Track 2.

And, “since then” and you’ve moved on to help from Mierke ”“ I’ve tailored our 3 and 4 back a bit b/c I’ve not found more than a handful of people in 10 years on this team who can recover the way you do ”“ as fast as you do.   Most people think after being here for 2 years that Track 3 or 4 is right for them b/c of their volume and training history, no matter what I say.   So I’ve paired them back.   What made Chris special is that he recovers from a hard workout almost instantly. Most of us take a longer time ”“ which does not allow us to go as hard the next day, or next week, or next month. Not unless we are on the plan for us.

But ”“ even with the pairing back of tracks 3 and 4 it does not mean you belong there, athlete x

Athlete X ”“ I personally never trained on anything as hard/harder than Track 1 for Ironman. EVER.  And I went 11:30 at Ironman.   I’m sure you’d take 11:30, right?   You don’t need track 3 to go fast.   You need track 3 after you’ve been training on 1 and 2 for 24-36 months and have the baseline to support the increased volume/intensity (which occurs primarily during the week).   So M-F, T 4 people do about 10-15 miles more running than Track 1.   You’ll be running 26 miles per week in August on Track 1.   Think about that.   That’s maybe up to 75 miles a month.   That’s nuts right?  Track 4 will be running 38-40 miles per week.   And, at higher intensity.

What makes you fast is not the training plan you are on (track 1 or 4). What makes you fast is the gift your parents gave you (from what I saw at the track, I think you have it but at what level only time will tell), training smart, and getting to the starting line healthy and feeling so pumped you are like 17 years old on your first date instead of limping with a bad knee and dragging ass like you have a cold and didn’t sleep for 3 weeks.

Athlete X –  from what I’ve seen you do on the track, and where you are starting at the pool (which you think sucks, and I’m telling you will be mid pack or better by the time MD gets here)”¦you’ll fly at MD.   You’ll be one of the fastest people on our team.   But you have to get there healthy and not over-trained.   Do track 1, and yes it accounts for Rev 3 Williamsburg Half.   Though ”“ you will race it as a B race (the half). We’ll rest you for 2 weeks, but not full taper.   Do track 1 for IMMD.

You paid me for this, let me do my job.