Most of my training for Ironman Chattanooga was of the meandering sort.  I didn’t really have a schedule and more or less did what I was feeling on the day.  But about 6 weeks out, I started getting nervous.  That’s when I sent a random tweet to pro triathlete, Jim Lubinski.

I’d been thinking about doing some pro-interviews for Crushing Iron while at Chattanooga, so I asked Jim if he’d be up for it.  He replied with a “Hell yeah!”

He’s also a coach, and after a couple emails, I decided to ask him if he had any interest in “guiding me into Chattanooga.”  I told him I was loosely eyeing Kona and he was all about it.

He asked a bunch of questions about my current fitness, then put together the first week’s plan. One of the things I mentioned was that I was not a fan of super long bike rides, so he said he’d keep that in mind.

I also told him I didn’t use a power meter or heart rate monitor (which I’m sure was great for a coach to hear) so he was forced to use intuition based on my feedback, and if you read my blog, you know my mind can be a little murky.

He was patient, smart, and crafted a plan that gave a lot of bang in a short period.  The workouts were purposeful and I found myself doing a lot of relatively short (2.5 max) trainer rides with power or intensity. They were almost always followed by a run off the bike.

Slowly, my belief came back and I was feeling confident about Chattanooga.  I wasn’t sure if I could get to Kona, but knew if everything fell right, I could be in the ballpark.

Jim had me on a great plan, and I followed most of it to the letter.

One place I slacked was in the pool.  Jim laid out some pretty intense workouts, but I couldn’t rise to the occasion.  I kind of went through the motions in the water, mainly because I was anticipating an “easy” downstream swim.  What I got was a much slower current and by taking the swim for granted, I burned way too much energy in the water.

My longest bike ride of the year was 67 miles.  Chattanooga was 116.  Probably not the best idea.

I’m sure Jim would have beefed up the bike a little, but I was at a point where I was more interested in being “ready” than burned out.  His trainer workouts all included form, technique and mental training.  I built an astonishing amount of confidence in 4 weeks.

I raced the bike on perceived effort and used his race-day-strategy to turn in a 15 minute PR (5:45) on a course 4-miles longer.  There were several things he told me during training that kept me right in the pocket and while I knew I was out of Kona contention at that point, I was ready to tackle the run.

Jim gave me a detailed, yet simple, run strategy and I was running better than I ever had.  I was anxious to execute.

He had me do a bunch of bricks, so the transition was smooth and for the first six miles or so I stayed patient while trying to find my run legs.  I felt “okay” but unfortunately couldn’t find the next gear.  I laid down a decent run (4:20) but never really found my stride.  It was more weakness than pain, and in retrospect I know it’s because I didn’t put on enough bike miles.

This sport is a never ending search for answers and training under a pro triathlete really opened my eyes.  Jim and I finally got to meet in Chattanooga and he was a waterfall of information.  My buddy Corey and I sat with him in Starbucks for about two hours and soaked it in.

His nutrition advice alone was priceless and I believe it was a huge reason why I actually ran the entire marathon.  Not only that, he had a level, yet intense approach that I really liked.  He started triathlon after playing other sports and has proven himself as a top athlete as a coach.

Like me, he’s also a sponge for information and wanting to get better.  I look forward to seeing how our future unfolds.

You can find Jim at or @jimlubinski




The Story Behind IM Chattanooga Training