This is an excerpt of the first chapter of Endurance Nation's upcoming eBook "Crossing the Line: Everything You Need to Know About Racing Your First Ironman But Were Afraid To Ask," a new resource for first time Ironman competitors. The book is available for free to subscribers of the Endurance Nation Weekly Update Newsletter.
A 112-mile bike ride is certainly daunting, especially after a 2.4-mile swim and before 26.2 mile run. In fact, the bike will occupy almost half of your race day, and probably a larger percentage of your training week. Yep, see that shiny rig in the corner? You're going to be spending a lot of time together over the next several months.
The Bike is Not the Run
Running is an impact sport. One of the keys to train for an Ironman run is to build durability. But the bike is fundamentally different from the run. Here are a few reasons why:
1. Non-impact: Cycling has none of the forceful jarring or impact on the joints that the run does. In fact, cycling on a stationary bike is often prescribed for people returning from heart surgery or other significant injuries.
2. Bio-mechanically less risky: Consider that your feet are connected to the pedals, which are bolted to straight cranks and attached to round chainrings. These send power through a fixed frame that you sit on to move a round wheel. And this is the exact same every time you swing a leg over the bike. There is very little that can go wrong in this system. Assuming that you've had a bike fit and avoid objects in your line of travel (ie, you don't crash), your risk of injury on the bike is much less than on the run.
From this standpoint, bike training is less risky than the run from an injury, overuse or overtraining point of view. Because of this, it warrants an approach that's different from training for the run.
Get Faster Now
Even as a beginner cyclist, you shouldn't wait to become a faster cyclist. Getting faster is a 4-step process:
* Place butt on bicycle.
* Go that way really fast.
Wait for the "It's On Day"
Please review our concept of the "It's On Day (IOD)," discussed in the first chapter of this ebook. Every Endurance Nation athlete, even our first-timers, train according to this Get Fast process until their IOD. This is when they begin to shift gears and build Ironman endurance to go along with the speed training.
Sound crazy or different from your training partners 4 to 6 hour Zone 1 bike rides month after month? In our experience working with over 1000 Ironman finishers per year since 2010, those athletes are getting very good at riding slowly for hours and hours. No amount of riding 17 mph will turn itself into a 19 mph bike split on race day.