This is the final email recapping my Ironman. If you missed the second email click here. You can also read the first email by clicking here. The three emails flow together so it is good to read all of them so you understand the big picture of the message.
This email will be valuable if you have a desire to lose fat.
Training for an Ironman
I did my first Ironman last year. The race was the first week of November in 2022. I signed up the last week of August 2022. I had 12 weeks to prepare. I mapped out a training plan that included swimming, biking and running. My plan consisted of 3-4 runs per week, 2-3 bike rides per week and a swim every other week. I also continued doing CrossFit 4-5 times per week.
Prior to the Ironman I would do 5-6 CrossFit workouts per week and run 3-4 times per week. I love running. My runs would be anywhere from 2 miles up to 6 miles. Training for the Ironman I increased my distance. My pace was comfortable. Never pushing to a pace that would be too challenging so I can maintain a pace for a longer distance. Same with the bike. I didn’t push too hard. Just fast enough to move but not tap out. This was the type of pace I would need for the Ironman race.
I wear a Garmin watch so I monitor my heart rate. My average heart rate on most of my runs and bike rides was 135-145 beats per minute. This is a very comfortable pace for me. I can do it forever. When I get up to 160+ is when I get really uncomfortable and need to slow down.
Zone 2 cardio
There’s a lot of buzz talk these days about “zone 2” cardio. I’m not going to unpack the science behind this on todays email but will definitely open this conversation in a later series. What I want to share with you is the benefit I found from all of the additional cardio I was doing training for my Ironman.
My body fat dropped to 3.9% and I added 5 pounds of muscle. I lost 10 pounds. The additional exercise I did in the form of long and slow cardio helped my body oxidize fat. Your body has three options when it comes to fuel: glucose, fat and muscle. Which you use is based on several factors. Nutrition and exercise are two big factors.
Train your body to burn fat
Long slow cardio at a 70% max heart rate performed 180 minutes per week is how to train your body to oxidize fat. Of course this cannot be combined with a terrible diet. If you eat well, strength train 4-5 times per week and add 180 minutes of long slow cardio to your weekly training schedule you will train your body to burn fat as fuel. The 180 minutes train your body to utilize fat. If you don’t do it your body isn’t trained as well to do it. Most people if asked wish to burn fat as fuel but do not train their bodies to do it. This form of cardio is not the end all be all but it helps tremendously. A healthy balanced meal plan helps tremendously as well.
To keep this simple think of it this way. If your goal is to become a morning person but you only wake up early once a week or even worse once every other week will you ever become a morning person? No way! If you want to become a morning person you should wake up early 5-6 days per week. Train yourself to wake up early. The same applies to burning fat. You have to train your body to burn fat. A great way to do this is by adding 180 minutes of long slow cardio to your weekly routine. Don’t neglect the strength work. Keep that up too. And don’t neglect the diet either. Do it all.
Go out for a walk today. Aim to keep your heart rate at 70% of your maximum heart rate. To estimate your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. For example, for a 50-year-old person, the estimated maximum heart rate would be calculated as 220 – 50 years = 170 beats per minute. Then take 70% of that number. It is not hard to maintain that effort for 45 minutes. The hard part is the discipline to do it multiple times per week.
I am sure this email has created some questions in your head. Ask away. I am here to help you learn much faster than it took me.