Athlete Journal: Andrew Read, Entry 2 – Plan of Attack

I have my place in Ironman Melbourne and it’s time to make a plan. A training schedule, a plan for how fast I’m going to run, how I’m going to sleep and eat. I’ll also share my goals!

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 2 – Plan of Attack

What can you say about a sport that was born off the back of a man who tried to set a PR in every workout, every day, during the length of his career?

It may seem unbelievable in the modern world of pampered sports stars and micro-managed performance, but Dave “the ironman” Scott who won the Kona Ironman six times just walked out the door every day “to see what he could do.” Even racing was no different – just a test to see where he stood against the rest of the world.

And it’s probably this cavalier attitude towards training sanity that most intrigues me about long course anything. How do you know where the line is? How do you REALLY know what you can do, unless you go out and try to beat it? And can you deal with the ramifications, both physically and psychologically, when you find out?

I’m at an interesting point right now. I’ve just started running again after about a four-year break. And while I’d never count myself as a happy runner I can distinctly remember times in the past where I was running well and easily. My steady return to running has been marked so far by no tragedies like shin splints or calf tears (thanks in part to following this simple routine I learned a few years ago).

They say the marathon doesn’t begin until mile 20 (or kilometre 32 if you actually understand the metric system). And they say an Ironman race begins at the run. Well, when I look at both of those statements I just know the last six miles of that marathon are really going to suck!

And being the good little OCD person I am I have started thinking about projected finish times so I can also figure out my run training pace. For anyone who has never contemplated this let me give you an insight into how it should work:

  1. Figure goal finish time. In this case, let’s keep it easy and say 3 hours 30 minutes. While not fast for a stand-alone marathon, this will be my first marathon and a sub four-hour marathon at the end of the Ironman is a good goal.
  2. Figure how fast each kilometre needs to be run to finish in that time. In this case it is five minutes per kilometre (the maths is just as easy when you put it into miles, at eight minutes per mile).
  3. See if you can actually run at five minutes per kilometre.

And now the hard work needs to begin. While five-minute kilometres are not “fast” run in isolation, when you string forty of them back to back they certainly will be! So the goal needs to be to dial this pace, or slightly more, into my running form so that it is my default setting.

You also need to consider that if the goal is to run at this pace, which for me will be a PR, I will need to get to the start of the run in reasonably fresh shape. Triathlon super coach Kristian Manietta says the best way to have a good run is to be able to get through the bike leg easily, and the best way to do that is to be able to get through the swim easily. So what he is really saying is that you need to be a strong swimmer, a good cyclist, and then hang on for the run.

Well, how hard can that be?

My current training plan is all for shorter efforts, but with loads of intensity to teach my body about the pace I want it to perform at and develop efficiency. My Tuesday ride was hard enough that I was asleep by 8:00pm that night and slept for nine hours before having to get up to go run a class. And swims are all brutal, short efforts done at a speed that is my maximum sustainable speed for that distance.

At this point you’re probably wondering how much of this you can fit in a week. Let me tell you, the answer is A LOT, if you plan your day out well. Here’s my typical schedule:

  • Monday – Kettlebells AM, Swim PM
  • Tuesday – Run AM, Ride PM
  • Wednesday – Kettlebells AM, Swim PM
  • Thursday – Run AM, Ride PM
  • Friday – Kettlebells AM, Swim PM
  • Saturday – Long Run AM, Swim PM
  • Sunday – Long Ride AM

It adds up to about three hours a day, seven days per week. How this is accomplished is easy. I go to bed early. I mean EARLY. It’s not unusual for me to be in bed by 8:30pm. This allows me as much sleep as possible before my daily wake up at 5:15am for my first personal training sessions of the day at 6:00am. On top of my near nine hours of sleep at night I may also take a quick nap of up to thirty minutes during the day. Sleep is quite simply the best and cheapest performance booster you can find, and if you want to really make a big impact on your life with a single change just go to bed an hour earlier. Trust me.

Likewise, the food I am putting into my body I am treating like race fuel. I said in this article that I wanted to make sure I did everything as well as possible this year. To really see how far it is possible to go just on training, food, and sleep for a forty-year-old guy. If you are what you eat then I don’t want to be cheap and convenient. I want to be strong and fast, so I am making an effort to eat the foods that best allow me to succeed in these goals.

There’s more to come, much more. But right now it’s time for me to go swim!

(And if you’re looking for a way to calculate running time and training pace please go to