First Rest Day Book Review

Jan. 5, 2014

Friday Sunday Rest Day Book Review

Fridays are typically a rest day for me. But as you saw, Friday this week was a bit special and I worked out a lot. So this week, Sunday is my rest day. Each rest day, I’ll post a book review of a book that relates directly (or sometimes more indirectly) to triathlon. I had to start out my weekly book reviews with this book, since this is the book I will be using to base my training off, as it includes a training plan for 24 weeks prior to the race.

Start to Finish – 24 weeks to triathlon, by Paul Huddle, Roch Fey, and Tj Murphy. 192 pages.

The book starts out with giving some basic tips in Ironman, and how to get ready to train for one. It gives a basic intro to terminology, techniques, and weight training. At the end of the book, it talks bit about nutrition as well. It’s a good primer on all these topics, but not too detailed, I would read other books on all of them if you can. To be clear, I really think that a primer is all it’s meant to be, so I’m not really criticizing it. It has a whole chapter on heart rate testing, since the training is based on heart rate training, and so obviously that is an important thing for you to figure out. The training plan is really the golden part of this book, and it gets into that right away. It gives a little explanation for each phase, and then lists the workouts. There are “question and answer” sections at the end of the chapters.

As far as I can tell, the plan is fairly standard, which is great. I would so much rather have tried and true than something “revolutionary,” especially for my first one. They talk about what kind of fitness you should have to start, and then the plan slowly builds you up to longer distances, and then tapers before the race. Every 3rd week is a recovery week where you do a little less. The training plan is broken down into Adaptation (weeks 1-6), Aerobic (weeks 7-12), Ironman Specific Base (weeks 13-18), and then Race Phase (weeks 19-24). You start your taper at week 22. They give good explanations about how to adjust the plan, and what workouts are optional, other that are sorta optional, and what ones really are not if you want to finish.

A little on why I chose this book/training plan:

I found that how to choose a training plan for an Ironman, especially your first one, is a very difficult thing. I did a lot research, looking into everything from one-on-one coaching, the more online/group coaching format of Endurance Nation (who I really, really like), plans for sale through Training Peaks, and the many free plans available on the Internet.  Of course, I also asked several of my fellow Fox Cities Triathlon Club members, and I was comforted to hear that many of them used free or very cheap options. I quickly came to the realization there is no “best” plan. This sentiment is also echoed by Endurance Nation in their Four Keys of Ironman Execution post: “All you’ve done for 9 months is build a vehicle. Ironman racing is about how you DRIVE that vehicle, it is NOT about the vehicle…creating and sticking to the right plan for you is the only thing that will lead to the best possible day.”

I needed to find one that fit my life and didn’t scare me to death just reading it. I was also trying to balance my anxiety and desire to get a “good” or “great” plan I could be confident in and my need to not end up in bankruptcy court. This book was recommended to me by a friend who used it to train for (and finish!) Ironman Wisconsin a few years ago, so I knew it was a good plan. And it didn’t scare me just reading it. And the training plan, at least the base, was very close to what I am already doing, so it fit my life nicely. Yay! DONE!

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