Athlete Journal: Andrew Read, Entry 1 – The Road to Ironman Melbourne

The journey for Ironman Melbourne 2013 begins. Find out why I plan to do a lot of kettlebell swings and get ups in preparation…and also WHY this race is so important to me.

Click here to read other journal entries and articles by Andrew Read, and look for his new journal every Monday as he trains for Ironman Melbourne.

Journal Entry 1 – The Road to Ironman Melbourne

10:59am on Friday the 30th of March and I’m sitting in front of my computer and watching the second-hand of my watch edge closer to 11:00am. At 11:00am I’ll have less than five minutes to sign up for Ironman Melbourne 2013. This year’s race sold out in less than eight minutes and with the course proving fast I knew it would sell out even faster for the coming year.


I’ve got a nervous ball stuck in my stomach. Stupidly, all I’m concerned about is getting onto the sign up screen quickly, with no thought of what it is I’m about to do.


My watch shows 10:59.59 and I hit refresh and am straight onto the sign up screen. Feverishly I start putting all my details in as fast as possible and in a minute or so I am done. Near panic strikes midway through screen three of five when I realize I have missed some information and can’t get onto the next screen.

By 11:04am I am done. Money paid, confirmation received and printed out to make doubly sure. Immediately the phone calls start from friends who either did or didn’t get in. Strangely again I’m yet to experience any kind of concern for exactly what I’ve signed up for.

But let’s be realistic here. I’m nothing special. I can swim a bit and ride just fine, but I’ve now signed up for a marathon preceded by a 180km ride, which itself has a 3.8km swim for a warm up! This is going to be a huge challenge.

And to make it even more exciting I’m going to be writing all about the impending car crash of my adventures here on Breaking Muscle! You’ll be able to tune in weekly as I tell you what I’ve been up to with training and preparing, what I’ve learned along the way to do my FIRST triathlon as a full Ironman.

The full project goes like this:

  • I aim to take everything I’m writing about for Breaking Muscle – the cold water therapy, strength training for endurance athletes, supplementation, mobility and flexibility essentials, all of it – and field test it on myself.
  • At the same time I will again be working with the Jodi Lee Foundation to raise awareness to help nullify this silent killer. Please, if you like the articles feel free to donate to the cause. Every little bit really does help.

Since I finished my 1000km ride with the Jodi Lee Foundation only about a month ago it’s not like I’ve been sitting still. I was back on my bike about three days after averaging just over 200km/week and slowly ramping up my swim volume to about 2500m per session, three to four times per week. On top of that I had to go to the United States for a week to teach at the April RKC in St. Paul, Minnesota.

While there I had a great talk with the RKC Mastermind Pavel Tsatsouline regarding my strength training and this project. The best part about this talk was that his ideas were exactly what I had in mind. It may surprise people to hear this next part, but my strength training for the next year or so is largely going to be kettlebell swings and get ups.

What makes this funny is that many think of these exercises as basic or beginner exercises. As I wrote about in my kettlebell swing article there are more benefits to the swing than first meet the eye. My choice for a primary posterior chain exercise was either swing or deadlift. But what I found was deadlifts just made me tight the next day, which was affecting my running. But heavy swings are just fine. Not only that, but given I’ll be doing more repetitions they blend nicely towards the strength endurance spectrum, which is exactly what I’ll need for this race.

And the get up is just such a perfect exercise, and I have been in love with them ever since my first shaky, ungainly reps in my front yard with a 16kg years ago.

My basic workout plan goes like this:

  • 3 days per week.
  • Pavel’s 5RM fighter pull up plan (I’ll be reviewing this in an article soon).
  • 20 minutes heavy get up singles. At Pavel’s suggestion these are using the Beast or 48kg, so in twenty minutes I get about ten or twelve.
  • 20 minutes of swings. Again, the suggestion is to use the Beast and I split up these sessions in a few different rep schemes, which again will be the focus of a single article coming soon.
  • My warm up consists of some extra sneaky secret things I can’t discuss just yet, but I promise as soon as I am able I will share this too.

While it may not seem like a lot, remember that for get ups, for example, it means I am performing multiple reps with almost sixty percent of my body weight. The goal is here is not to be bone crushingly strong, rather as strong as I can be while keeping my legs fresh to bike and run.

The only other bit of news to share is that 2XU has come along and sponsored me with gear for this event. I’m a big fan of 2XU – they’re Australian, make fantastic quality gear and lead the way in compression and wetsuit design. (You can also read a review of 2XU here on Breaking Muscle.)

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