Still beaming that you've signed up for an Ironman? Well old coach Vic is here to smack some reality back into you cause its September and its time to train. "But!", you're thinking, "Every training plan I've looked at is a 26 week or so plan and we're more than that out right now!" First, you're not going to do a 70.3 let alone a 140.6 training for just 26 weeks. Second, the fine print in your plans is that it assumes you have the base of someone who can do an Olympic distance race falling out of bed. Third, you may be coming off a full season of triathlon and need to de-train or you have no base and need to build it. Whichever way training starts now and here's more why's:
Habit Development: It'll take about 6 weeks before your training schedule becomes habit let alone integrated into your life. But the important part is establishing the habit as you'll have your hands full with performance/injury/etc later on. You've identified the training times and logistics and now is the time to create the habit of waking up at 5:00 AM or taking the kids to school in your running gear and then running to the office or practicing staying awake watching your honey's favorite movie after a long bike ride or etc., etc, etc... Establish the habit now before the distances get stupid.
Life Integration: Dude you have a new full time job! Rarely if ever does that first go with a training plan actually work. You'll realize it takes you longer to get to the pool than you thought and you'll never make it to work on time. Ditto on strength training, bike, and run. Conversely your life around you will need time to push back: i.e. the boyfriend says WTF when you are constantly packing workout bags. You miss Yoga so much you cry on the bike. You cannot go into your brand new 26 week plan and have it collapse by week 2 because the Mrs. now has you sleeping in the car. Start now so you can get cozy with that corrinthian leather before panic sets in.
Now if these two additional reasons aren't an impetus to get going now then you have quite a bit to think about. But let's take it a step further for you late fall 70.3 and marathon runners: the two things above still matter to you cause training for either is not training for a 140.6. Sure you're fit, dumb, and happy knowing you'll be in quite some nice shape for your upcoming race but you'll still need to establish habits and life integration NOW for a 140.6. Plus you have to allow for de-training after your event so you're not injured by week 2 of your 140.6 plan.
Let's get going:
You are now in Pre-BASE Phase in which you'll be establishing your foundation and infrastructure base as well as the habitual and life integration period required:
Take your plan (and/or have coach do it) and scale it to the entry level base requirements which are usually that you can run 6 miles, bike 25 to 30, and swim the mile. If you look at the Dreamfar Triathlon 52 week 140.6 training plan you'll see what I mean. Actually you can use that plan as sort of your pre-training plan and modify it to your training blocks of time..
At this stage make the time blocks "soft" in other words allow for life to interfere with them as needed. But learn if they'll be permanent or temporary as that will modify your schedule.
Go see a doctor. Take a physical. Ask them if it is OK that you're going to do this. After he/she laughs at you make sure you get a full blood work-up so you know what kind of limits you're starting off with. This may be the most important advice.
Pick a day which you will start your training! Pick a day in which you feel you have good probability that you'll get more than 50% of the workouts in. If you're doing a fall marathon or 70.3 congratulations: you're so far into the injury curve that your start day becomes doubly important as that is the end of your de-training period.
Focus on strength building. The adage that running pays the rent actually doesn't apply right now. If you can build a strong core and leg/shoulder/back muscle there is less likelihood that the increasing endurance strain will damage your connective tissue. (when you get injured in week 16 it'll because of connective tissue unless you go over your handle bars. Then it'll be that.)
Although its not time to get sport specific you may want to consider enjoying your other sports right now before 140.6 overtakes even your sports regimen. In February Old Coach Vic will be telling you now is the time to level off your other sports loves (as if you have time for them) and focus on swim-bike-run. So enjoy now!
Let's look at a week on the Dt 140.6 plan which you can find here.
Let's just look at Monday's swim 40 weeks from the race to 26 weeks from the race. You've gone from a 30 minute swim which is really a 1 hour endeavor and slot of your day to what is a two hour chunk of your day. You can't induce that kind of shock all at once: begin now, acclimate, integrate. Starting next week I'll post that week's IM training here along with the topic at hand.