Colleen Conners-Pace is back with continued tips for Ironman Lake Tahoe! In this post, she breaks down the second step of Ironman training: moving from the Prep Time to Base Training Period.
As you move into the Base Training Period, you will begin to focus more on aerobic endurance. Without endurance you will never finish the Ironman Lake Tahoe. To train for aerobic endurance you need to keep the intensity low so the body can make physiological adaptations required to be more efficient at delivering oxygen to the working muscles. Thus, the muscles become more efficient at using the oxygen to break down fuels, primarily fat for energy. Work too hard and you train more of your anaerobic energy system, hence, you will not create the desired adaptations of increased aerobic fitness.
You will not actually rely much on your anaerobic energy system in an Ironman. Ironman requires aerobic endurance. Training at an aerobic level teaches your body to be more efficient at using fat as your main source of fuel. We store up to 40,000 calories of fat in our body (even if you are 7% body fat at 150 pounds) and only 2000 at most carbohydrates (glycogen). Rely on the carbohydrates and you will definitely “bonk,” hit “the wall,” and at the end of the day you won’t be called an “Ironman.” (More on nutrition in future blogs.)
So how hard or easy should one go to achieve the benefits of these physiological adaptations? The best way to know is to do a Lactate Threshold Test. This will help identify your aerobic zones so you train at the right intensity and get the biggest bang for your training time. This test can be done on a treadmill or bicycle, or both, as heart rate training zones are different for each sport. Zones from one sport can be estimated from the other, but it is simply an estimate. If you have a power meter, power zones can be calculated from the Lactate Test along with the heart rate zones. For more information on Lactate Threshold testing go to Tahoe Peak Endurance, LLC.
Stay tuned for a minimalist approach on Ironman training: a much healthier, saner training plan than most out there!