January was a tough month. Over 70 inches of snow and ice here in Central Connecticut (the most ever in a one month period) and the roads are pretty much un-runnable (they were un-bikeable too but that’s expected). Despite the not so fantastic weather, January was a pretty good month for me numbers wise. Here’s how it breaks down:

Bike: 39h 49m 30s – 658.15 Mi
Run: 17h 05m 43s – 109.17 Mi
Swim: 7h 55m 14s – 25700 Yd
Strength: 30m
Massage: 2h 00m

Still about 100 miles off my biggest bike month ever and 15 miles off my biggest run month ever but not bad for January. What’s more interesting than the numbers is the response they got from the inter webs. I posted my monthly totals in the Ironman Lake Placid Forum on Beginner Triathlete and the response was:

“What training plan has one doing 20 hours 6 months prior to IM?” and a general debate on the merits of “high volume” training. I felt the need to respond and wanted to post my response here as well because I think it reflects exactly where I am right now both physically and mentally:

“To say it publicly, I want to KQ (its kind of scary to say it publicly because then people start to have expectations). I don’t think its going to happen at IMLP, mostly because I don’t think my bike will be where it needs to be (watts/kg ratio will be too low to really work the hills and still have what I’ll need to run a 3:50 or so marathon). Based on my current fitness and my planned training, I can’t see myself going faster than 11:30 and that’s not going to get me a slot at Placid. IMLP is going to essentially be a really good dry run for IMFL in November.

Now, with regard to training, I work one-on-one with Doug Maclean at QT2. We’ve been working together since June of 2010. QT2’s general philosophy is to safely reach critical volume at all three disciplines in order to maximize your speed potential at any given race. The reason for this is to build peripheral system durability– essentially when long course racing your legs (and head) give out long before your cardiovascular system and the best way to improve that limiter is through lots of aerobic volume.

If you look at my logs, QT2’s method to safely get an athlete to critical volume is through lots of aerobic base training. After HalfMax last year I took two full weeks off and then went into three four-week base cycles, in which I raced at the end of each rest week (as a side note my annual plan is based off of 900 hours of total annual training). I’m now in the fourth week of a single 4-week build period and will go back for another set of three four-week base cycles before building into IMLP. With my base and build cycles the volume increases slightly every week (I’ve gone from 14 hours/week in October to about 18-19 hours/week now and will max out at 26 hours/week), the real difference between base and build cycles is intensity. During base cycles all of my work (except for Sunday bike intervals and races) is in QT2 Zone 1 (aerobic pace, which is about a Joe Friel Z2). Keeping my intensity to Zone 1 is tough, but really training slower has worked to make me much faster and completely injury-free. During build phases we add in work in QT2 Zone 2 (Friel Zone 3) and some Best Sustainable Efforts. Now I lack base, so I have lots and lots of base this year, going forward (into 2012 and 2013 I will have less base because I’ve will have already built a strong foundation).

The other half of the getting faster equation is working on my body composition. I work with Leslie Reap at QT2 (the nutritionist is part of the coaching package) at trying to get my BF down to about 12%. For me, the training is much easier than the body composition.

Since starting to work with QT2, I’ve PRed every time I’ve raced. I’ve knocked over 30 minutes off my half time to get down to 5:29 (on a long bike course), taken my Olympic down to 2:37 and my half marathon to 1:53. Based on my training, I should see even bigger PRs in 2011.

One final thought — I don’t necessarily think that I do “high volume” training, I think of it more in terms of doing the volume I, personally, need to do to reach my goals.”

The response to this was positive and I’ll end with my favorite response:

“With Kelly, I don’t see someone who has high volume….I see someone who understands what it takes and is willing to remove a lot of things in her life, things she probably enjoys (sacrifices!), for an overall goal, as a result of that understanding, she is able to outwork those around her.”

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Kelly Burns Gallagher

mccarter english employment litigator / oiselle team runner / coeur sports triathlete / sonic endurance coach & race director / witsup.com writer / dartmouth '02 / emorylaw '05

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