About a month ago, we started following Sugarland guitarist Thad Beaty on his training journey towards the IRONMAN World Championship in Kona this October. Since mid-May, Thad has provided weekly updates on his progress via his video blog on our YouTube channel.
As many athletes know, the first month of beginning structured training towards a goal are key - building base fitness, gathering key data, and ramping up the training load to a sustainable and effective amount. We asked Thad’s coach Keith Watson of No DNF Coaching to paint us a picture of their first month after Thad got a coach and got serious about his Kona goals.
From Coach Keith:
It’s been four weeks since Thad and I started working together. These last four weeks have been all about laying down some foundation and building the volume (safely) in preparation for the real training to start. The focus has been on maintaining his swim (3-4 sessions per week), building some bike specific strength (3 sessions per week) and building his run volume aerobically (3 sessions per week).
We’ve introduced a few tools and techniques into his training that are already resulting in some overall gains. Cadence on the bike being the first one (Thad’s cadence was much higher than it should be) and walking on the run being the second. But more on those in a later post.
Thad’s training has been structured so that he takes very limited time off while still allowing him to recover well after each session. We’ve seen his overall fitness increase as a result of his ability to train day in and day out, consistently.
We’re tracking some key metrics like resting HR and recording power and pace data for all his sessions as we go. These will all be used as benchmarks and indicators as his training progresses. Right now we have been focused on less of the specific training numbers and targets (like power and pace) and more on building the consistent weekly volume, sprinkling in the right amount of intensity.
We are going to do some threshold testing over the next few weeks that will allow us to determine with more accuracy his current swim, bike and run thresholds and compare them against our initial assessments of where he was four weeks ago. From there we will start to dial in the training to be more targeted and specific to these numbers while still balancing stress and rest to see him continue to train consistently every day.
Here’s a screenshot of Thad’s Performance Management Chart as of June 19.
The vertical line indicates where we started working together right before 70.3 St. George. Thad did the swim and bike (but not the run due to a nagging IT band injury) to get an indicator to where his swim and bike fitness currently is. We then determined his bike threshold using the data from that day combined with a few other data points in the past and started to progress his training from there.
As you can see by the blue line, his long-term Chronic Training Load (CTL), his fitness has consistently increased week over week. His CTL was around 62 prior to St. George and is currently sitting around 82. My goal is to see his CTL get north of 130 (safely) by the time Kona rolls around.
I have been trying to maintain Thad with a consistent Training Stress Balance (TSB) of around -20, periodically giving him some harder sessions that take him below that number but then giving him some easier sessions allowing him to recover back up to it or slightly above. This in my opinion gets him used to dealing with an appropriate amount of daily fatigue that will allow him to truly “feel” what his body is telling him both in his specific sessions as well as overall. In conjunction with resting HR and qualitative feedback I’ll be able to determine where that TSB “sweet spot” is to keep him progressing safely.
We’ll be performing some testing this week, while still maintaining consistent load across all three sports. We’ll then adjust his threshold based on that data and work through another 4-5 week block getting to that manageable volume that we can then maintain and carve up over the next three months.
...and now enjoy Thad’s perspective on the same process, in his latest video diary “What I Have Learned”. If the terms TSS, VI, or threshold have ever confounded you too as a newbie triathlete, or if you’ve ever found yourself wondering what the heck the numbers on that new bike computer of yours even mean, you’ll enjoy Thad’s most recent revelations.