CFE Ironman Plan 2.0

Road map and training strategy for Ironman Arizona 2017

Sideline Reporter: You just finished your masters and spent the last two years killing yourself in business school – what’ll you do now?

Me: I dunno, work out?


[Confetti falls amidst laser light show, fireworks and white people dabbing]

In 2016 I aimed to get back into endurance sports – hard – and committed to complete my first ultramarathon in December of that year.

I laid out my Ultimate Ultra Plan and felt good to go for 50 miles. Then, after a routine 20-mile training trail run, my left foot developed a disturbing bruise on the inside arch.

With my history of Posterior Tibial Tendonitis (PTT), I decided to act like a grown-up and avoid escalating a mild bruise into another major injury.

I backed out of the 50-miler and prioritized starting 2017 as healthy as possible to gear up for the next big race:

This year’s big goal: Finish IMAZ strong, and faster than 13:30:18

In 2013 I crossed my first Ironman finish line in 13:30:18.

Now I’m back, chasing the dragon, with essentially the same goal: to complete the race feeling strong and healthy.

I don’t care about qualifying for Kona or standing on the podium.

But I do want to grow from my first race and set an Ironman PR.

With that context in mind, and many lessons learned from my 2013 effort, I’m opting again for a Crossfit Endurance (CFE) training plan, similar to the Ironman CFE program I followed four years ago.

NB: Many people argue the Long Slow Distance (LSD) strategy is better than CFE. I believe strategy needs to align with goals. If you’re looking to win races and become an elite endurance athlete, LSD would probably work best. On the other hand, if you value strength and fitness over super speedy times, CFE can get you across that finish line, feeling all cool and swole, with chiseled abs and stunning features.

General training schedule: Six days on, one day off

Photo: Karate Kid

I used three main sources to build the workouts for this year’s training program: 1) my workout logs from 2013, 2) Unbreakable Runner, and 3) Power Speed Endurance.

Here’s a rough outline of how the plan is comprised:

  • Two sports workouts per week: one interval and one stamina
  • Four CFE strength and conditioning workouts per week
  • One rest day
  • Mobility work every day

For the first few months I’m also incorporating gymnastics (i.e. weekly parkour and tumbling classes) to improve mobility, and help me accomplish another goal: land a standing backflip. Depending on how those first few months go, I may try and continue this gymnastics work throughout the plan, but it could be too much to try and fit in the schedule.

A sample week would go as follows:

  • Monday: Off or Tumbling
  • Tuesday: Run Intervals (AM) + CFE Workout (PM)
  • Wednesday: Swim Intervals (AM) + CFE Workout (PM)
  • Thursday: Bike Intervals (AM) + CFE Workout (PM)
  • Friday: Run Long Intervals (AM) + CFE Workout (PM)
  • Saturday: Parkour (AM) + Swim Time Trial (PM)
  • Sunday: Bike Tempo

NB: The sports workouts Friday – Sunday rotate Long Intervals, Time Trial and Tempo for each sport.

Roadmap to IMAZ 2017: Key checkpoints and races

Photo: Canned Muffins flickr

Now that we have a general overview of the training program, let’s take a look at the races I’ve placed on the calendar to serve as key checkpoints over the next eight months.

    • June: Deuces Wild (half-ish distance)
    • August: Mountain Man (olympic distance)
    • October: IMAZ 70.3 (half distance)
    • November: IMAZ 2017 (full distance)
    • December: McDowell Mountain Frenzy (50-mile ultramarathon)

I’m breaking up the training plan more or less into three-month training sections, adjusting accordingly after each checkpoint. I’ll also incorporate trail running into the mix, perhaps with a few longer 20-mile trail runs in September or October, in hopes of conquering that 50-miler in December (assuming a successful IMAZ).

Pitfalls: My foot (PTT) and my back (sciatica, overextension)

After years of injuries in my left foot (see Foot Fight 1 and 2) I’ve grown to accept that it will be a never-ending battle. As long as I want to keep doing endurance sports, I’ll need to make foot strengthening, ankle flexibility and mobility work part of every workout.

In addition, I’ve also developed some fun back issues from 1) sitting in a cubicle 40 hours a week, 2) slumping on the couch to relax after a long day of sitting in a cubicle, and 3) overextended form during back squats and deadlifts.

Both issues are relatively dormant now. Here’s how I plan to keep them that way:

To strengthen my foot, restore my arch and loosen up my calves

Every morning

  • Lacrosse ball roll bottoms of feet with intention to break up tight spots (one minute each foot)
  • Draw out the alphabet in the air with each foot
  • Towel scrunches (30 with each foot)

A few times a week

  • Lacrosse ball roll calves (two minutes each leg)
  • Foam roll smash front of shins side-to-side (two minutes each leg)
  • Banded ankle distraction (two minutes each ankle)
  • Bonesaw back of calves (two minutes each leg)

All day errday: arch activation and consciously correcting my foot into neutral position

To relieve my back, correct overextension and loosen up my hips

Every morning

  • Yoga progression: butterfly seated fold-ahsana, pigeon warm-up lying on back-shavasamsahna, tearful-pigeon (two minutes in each position; NB: these are likely not the correct yoga names for these poses)
  • Banded distraction samson stretch (two minutes each leg)

A few times a week

  • Lacrosse ball roll glutes (two minutes each side)
  • Lacrosse ball roll TFL, front hip flexors and abs (two minutes each side)
  • Quad, hip stretch: knee on the ground, foot against wall, crying (two minutes each side)
  • Banded distraction lunging hip stretch (two minutes each side)

All day errday: correct my posture by squeezing glutes, tightening abs and walking around like a weirdo

Useful resources:

Next steps

Ironman training officially starts Feb. 27, and I’m looking forward to getting obsessively into triathlon again.

I hope these tips, resources and plans help you prep for your races too, and I’m aiming to post updates at least once a month as we cruise down the road to IMAZ.

Thanks for following, and please post any suggestions, feedback or questions in the comments.

– Live Every Day –