For many triathletes the off season means getting back into the weight room and base building. This is a time to work on weaknesses and limiters. It has been a tough couple of months of fitting in 3 swims, 3 bikes and 3 runs. For me the off season means running – and lots of it. Ask the experts and they will tell you that an off season marathon does nothing for ironman – not to mention for sprint or Olympic distance triathlon. However, it is the premier running distance.
Last year I decided to put together a solid effort at the marathon. I had never run a marathon but I was determined to Boston Qualify. I went from a half marathon time of 1:37 and dropped it too 1:29:30 – A solid 7 minute gain. I got my BQ in my first and only marathon at Mardi gras with a time of 3:08:44 – evenly split mind you (1:34:00 / 1:34:44).
My dilemma is how much cycling can you do when you want to put up the best possible time in a marathon? I have been riding the trainer two mornings each week and then hitting the group ride on the weekend. The trainer sessions have been purposeful. I have been attempting to ride 2 x 20 minutes at FTP (functional threshold power). FTP is the maximal power that can be maintained for 1 hour. The 2 x 20 minutes sessions are based on a percentage of this FTP.
Being in Australia for the month of November I was not able to keep up with my bike fitness. In addition I also increased my run volume. I have been unsuccessful in my trainer sessions and seen little to no progress.
So back to the question at hand – How many times can you ride each week and still put together a PR marathon. Unfortunately the answer is zero.