There's a point in every build-up to an Ironman where you realise that you have a certain number of weeks left, and you have some long workouts in your schedule, and they mean something. That's the point in the cycle when, like any other point in the cycle, no one workout will make or break your training, but the psychological lift of a good5 hour, 100 mile bike or 2 hour run really can carry all the way through to your race, can in fact remind you when you slip into a painful, unhappy place, that what you are trying to accomplish has been done- by you- before.
This is where I've been lately. I ran 2:15 a week ago Saturday (with a 4 mile race in the middle), rode 4.5 hours on Sunday then came back and ran 90 minutes Tuesday.
This weekend I rode 5 hours on Saturday, rode another 2:45 Sunday with a half hour run, ran 70 minutes Monday, then 2 hours on Tuesday. I added Spinervals Mental Toughness tonight- a great 90 tempo effort that delivers a red-zone punchline in the last ten minutes.
i can tell there's an edge here. On one side is the real danger- not that you'll be undertrained, but the opposite. Push too hard and instead of peaking you'll be so spent that you end up flat- Eric, my coach, talks about that in this post about swim training for Kona. I think among athletes who have a serious expectation for an ironman, the ones that don't plan to walk the marathon, overtraining is probably a bigger issue than under-training.
Nevertheless, the other side of the edge is that. That the training will be intense enough but not long enough or long enough, but not intense enough. I tend to think you can replace duration with intensity more easily than intensity with duration. Train long and slow and you will be...
Still, some of the long training needs to be moderated, which is why I've been mixing easy and hard runs.
I've been running 2 hours all year, starting in January. I'm not concerned about whether I've worked the run hard enough. And I've worked the bike hard, and now I'm getting in my long rides (or maybe long spin this Saturday...)
I feel like this could all work out really well. Of course, there are no guarantees...