Then I started reading. According to Joe Friel, author of "The Triathlete's Training Bible" and co-author (with Gordon Byrn) of "Going Long: Training for IM-Distance Triathlons," it's not my running that needs to be fixed. It's my overall biking fitness. Reading this made me think back to what I was doing all those years ago. When I entered the triathlon realm in 2001, my fitness was firmly rooted in running. I was a sub-3:00 marathoner. As a former collegiate swimmer, the swimming would be the easy part -- I just had to find a pool. The missing piece was cycling. I didn't even have a road bike.
I approached cycling as I do everything: all out. I wasn't sure I'd "love" triathlon, so I bought an inexpensive (i.e., under $1000) road bike, fitted it with aero bars, and started riding. I rode as fast as I could, as far as I could (or until it got dark), whenever I could. It basically amounted to three or four times a week. And I rode hills because I live in a hilly area. Thinking back, I rode a LOT more on my non-long-ride days than I do now -- sometimes 2.5 to 3 hours. These days, per week during hard training, I usually do one really long ride (5.5-6.5 hours), one 1.5-2 hour speed/tempo ride, and one (or two) shorter rides (1 hour). Based on everything I've read as of late, this is not enough biking to excel in the bike leg of Ironman (or even half-Ironman). But until now, I always thought I could make up the difference by having a stellar run.
According to those in the know, stellar running abilities carry no weight in the Ironman distance. After a year of less-than-admirable performances, I'm ready to test this theory. Heck, I've already started getting used to four cycling sessions per week during my prep phase. I think I'm even learning to like it.