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mads's picture
Joined: Apr 4 2011
Posts: 3
Stuck in a flat place, training for a race with plenty of climbing


I'm planning my race calender for 2012, and so far my main event will be to race the Ironman UK in july. i want to aim for a sub 5:30 bike split, and get of the bike with good legs for the run, possibly a sub 3:30 marathon.

Now, meanwhile the problem is, IMUK has 7300ft climbing on the bike course and 1600ft climbing on the run course.
And i live in Denmark, there is nothing higher than 200ft here!!! the place is flat as a pancake!
Previously i would i've been doing 5:55 bike splits on a flat course and come of the bike feeling too good, and i'm a strong runner, running 3 hour single marathons.

I would very much appreciate any input or advice from you guys.

TriathleteTalk's picture
Joined: Dec 28 2011
Posts: 28
Well I feel your pain, as I

Well I feel your pain, as I live in Florida! But one way to get around the fact that you have no hills to train on, is to do some indoor trainer rides. Focus on doing interval training when on the trainer, for instance you can do the following workout:

1.5 Hour Cycling Workout
- 10 min warmup
- 10 x 2 min Hard Gear @ 90-100rpm with 1 min rest in between (30 min total for set)
- 10 min easy
- 5 x 4 min Hard Gear @ 85-95rpm with 2 min rest in between (30 min total for set)
- 10 min cool down

There are also some great spinerval dvds that can help you gain strength while riding on a trainer. The key here is to trick your legs into thinking they are on a hill!

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me through my website: www.triathletetalk.com

warrenp's picture
Joined: Aug 9 2008
Posts: 210
same here. i live in

same here.
i live in edmonton, canada........flat, flat and flatter.
however; IMC is very hilly.

about 4 times a year i do my weekend trips to the mountains which is a 4 hour drive and train hard on the hills. I also do lots of climbing workouts like the one listed above. I do find the 4 trips are great for my confidence.

I consider myself a good climber in races so it must be going ok.

hamlet_cat's picture
Joined: Aug 4 2010
Posts: 1068
I don't think you have any

I don't think you have any choice but to mimic hill rides and runs, by using the trainer and a treadmill that has an incline function. If you can get the elevation map of the course and use it to plan a couple of good training workouts and use them once a week you should be ok. It will be a bit difficult because you have to have a sense of the PRE that it takes to climb hills.

Do you have the opportunity to drive the course beforehand? Sometimes I will do that and make notes, as to how far in the hills are, how steep they are, and get a rough idea of how long it will take me to climb it. Sometimes I will get out and actually walk the hill, if I can't get a sense from just driving it. If you can't drive it, you can estimate using the elevation map. I have done that before. You also have to factor in whether your climbs will be seated or standing. That of course depends on the grade of the hill. Elevation maps can be useful for that but only if you have experience reading them and relating to your ride.

jarhead's picture
Joined: Jun 23 2009
Posts: 1113
your biggest problem is

your biggest problem is going to be mental and not physical (assuming you push hard on the trainer). Physically you'll be prepared for the hills, but mentally when you see that steep climb and shift to the small chainring your gonna say "oh crap".

Just be confident in your abilities and keep your head down to the pavement and not up to the top of the hill.

vjohnson's picture
Joined: Sep 2 2007
Posts: 563
All courses are flat. You

All courses are flat. You have your potential wattage on race day. A wattage you can churn out, and still run fast. So you stick to this wattage goal going up hill, downhill and on the flats. What this wattage is, is all based on your training.

Power spikes KILL run splits. This is the mistake people make on hilly courses, they seem to think they need to grind up a hill, then it comes back to haunt them on mile 22 of the run, or even worse mile 3 of the run.

Depending on your weight, you are going to need to hold 210-230 watts on that course to break 5.5. If you rode 5:50 on a flat course, you probably were in the 180 range, maybe a bit lower. (All things being equal, wind, temp, etc) Working on functional strength and power, and hitting some high volume numbers on the weekends will help.

vjohnson's picture
Joined: Sep 2 2007
Posts: 563
Just another thought, don't

Just another thought, don't take this the wrong way, I was in your shoes at one point, and I'm just providing my experience. The NUMBER 1 to focus on during an IM prep is the aerobic system. If you said you just did a 5:05 split, and wanted to go under 5 for the bike, we would focus on another system. But you have going 5:55, and want to go 5:30, you need to ride more, bottom line. Intervals will work a different system then what you need for an IM.

What was the average of your two biggest weeks last year, in terms of bike volume?

There is no easy way around seat time. Others may have different experiences, but the single biggest improvement in my bike spilts came from more seat time. Nothing fancy, just volume.

mads's picture
Joined: Apr 4 2011
Posts: 3
Thanks for the advice so

Thanks for the advice so far. Its very helpfull, mainly i think it is a mental reasurance that it is possible and a goal worth working towards. It helps to now that there are constructive tips for this goal, instead of an 'can't be done' oppinion, mostly because i wasn't shure myself.
But for now i'm still believing!

@vjohnson, last year my training coming in to my race wasn't optimal, mainly due to the fact that i spend the last 5 weeks before the race at sea... But the 2 biggest weeks i averaged just about 100miles a week.

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