Uberman Training Update

NOTE: This post, nor any of my posts, are to be considered medical or training advice. This is only my reports of what I’m doing and what’s working and not working. Use it for informational and educational purposes only. If you’re thinking about endurance training, get some help from a certified coach…

As some of you know, and the rest of you now do, I’m training for Uberman. It’s a multi-day endurance event in October comprised of:

  • 21-mile swim across the Catalina Channel
  • 400-mile bike ride from the coast to Death Valley
  • 135-mile run from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney (the Badwater course)

The race is now three months away, which gives me less than three months of training to go…

I spent April, May, and June ramping up my general baseline fitness – getting myself into general Ironman shape and focusing heaving on ramping up swim mileage each week.

Last week was a bit of a personal test to see how much volume my body could take in a single week, while still working, sleeping, and otherwise functioning as a husband and father. I think I passed the test. Now the hard stuff ahead…


  • Swim: 32,000 yards (18.35 miles)
  • Bike: 151.5 miles
  • Run: 20 miles
  • Weightlifting: Two (2) short sessions focused on posterior chain and stability


Sunday: 5000 yard swim, Weightlifting


  • I planned to go longer – as much as 7500 or 10k yards, but just didn’t have the energy. At least I got in the pool after two weeks away from regular training.
  • We spent two weeks in Portland where I worked in frequent open water swimming, but my total mileage dropped way down and I paid the price on this first day back in the pool.
  • Deadlifts and kettle bell swings after the swim to work on posterior chain and stability.

Monday: 35 mile bike, 6 mile run


  • I planned to do 50 miles on my Tri-Bike (aka “George”) but had some mechanical issues and instead did a shorter ride on my road bike (“Pedro”), using the wind as a workout.
  • I had a pretty solid crosswind and headwind the entire ride, so I put Pedro in a heavy gear and focused on heart rate. The ride felt like a long incline most of the way, giving my legs a very solid workout.
  • With temperatures in the low 90s, the run was a chance to see how I’d do in the heat with pace and heart rate. Overall, I’m pleased.
  • My baseline running heart rate is 135 bpm for long runs, and I started there, with it slowly climbing throughout the run.
  • By the last couple of miles, I was into the 145 range, and I practiced a run-walk strategy to make sure my HR would drop when I walked, and it did quickly, which is a positive sign that I have it under control in the heat.
  • I purposely didn’t take any water or cold packs with me to reduce variables contributing to my heart rate test.

Tuesday: 7500-yard swim, 2.75 mile run


  • Back in the pool for real yardage by doing 7 x 1000, then a 500-yard cool down. It felt forced and lacked rhythm which I further attribute to my lack of pool swimming the last couple of weeks.
  • By 4000, it got a little better when my arms fatigued and I was forced into a longer, slower stroke more representative of what I’ll need to do in the race swim.
  • I was able to keep a 15:30 to 15:45 per 1000-yard pace, which is a good indicator for me. That’s roughly a 2.0 mph pace, and about what I’ve swam in my Ironman races.
  • The run was a simple jaunt around the neighborhood in the evening to get my legs moving and find a few extra miles for the week.

Wednesday: 2000-yard swim, Light weightlifting, 51.5 mile-bike


  • The swim was a bonus – I found an extra 45 minutes in the day so I hopped in the pool and did 500 yards to warm up, then 10 x 100 intervals at an 7-8 RPE, then 500 cool down. I mostly just wanted to get in a little intensity for the swim and force myself to sharpen my stroke with the faster pace. Mission accomplished.
  • Weightlifting – overhead squats with dumbbells and kettle bell swings. Focusing on posterior chain to strengthen my cycling and climbing, and the kettle bells for core strengthen and overall stability.
  • Cycling was very, very hard. It was 99 degrees and no joke. The first hour was generally okay and smooth, though I was feeling Monday’s ride in my quads.
  • Hour two included some basic climbs that I’ve done a hundred times, and I knew I was fatigued based on the gears I needed and the amount of time I spent out of the saddle trying to work up the Steiger and Cantelow climbs. These are pretty modest climbs that I usually do in the saddle and at a controlled heart rate. Today? Not so much… I thought about turning around and going home a couple of times, and kept going, and was glad I did.
  • For the final stretch on Putah Creek Road, my butt was burning in the saddle and I turned to meditating while riding and simply facing the sensation until it was over. Good practice for Uberman.

Thursday: 7500-yard swim, 3.25 mile run


  • Swim Ladder workout in the pool: 500-1000-1500-2000-1500-500-500
  • The second 1500 was the toughest. I was VERY drained after this, and at home laid on the floor staring at the ceiling while Lena made dinner. This never happens. I felt much, much better after eating, and concluding that I’m just not eating enough during the day. More fats please…
  • The run was another quick evening jog to work in some miles and otherwise reset myself to recover from the swim. Then a good stretch at night and felt much better the next morning.

Friday: 10,000-yard swim, 5.35 mile run


  • 10 x 1000 yards midday in 99 degree heat. I learned about a new hazard while pool swimming – sunburn. Ugh. Sunscreen next time…
  • The first 3000 yards were smooth, then I dipped a bit until 6000-7000 where I found a nice glide for the first time on my left side. This has long been a struggle for me. It only lasted about 2000 yards, then I was fatigued.
  • 9000 was a bit more tolerable because I knew then I had only one set left. The last 1000 went really well and I pushed hard for a 15:30 pace – a solid indicator.
  • I brought nutrition to drink during the swim to begin thinking about my “feeds” in the open water. I drank my drink mix every 2000 yards (roughly every 30 minutes0 to get some calories and I felt a huge difference between yesterday’s and today’s post-workout. I was far less hungry and drained afterwards, so a positive development there.
  • With the heat as it was, I thought an outside run would be good so I plodded along the miles at a 8:50 pace to feel the heat and see how I’d feel. Wasn’t too bad and I was glad to get in a solid run and a few miles, and to know I had only a bike ride left in the week.

Saturday: 65-mile bike, 2.75 mile run


  • Early ride in the cool morning air. Wow – what a difference 30 degrees makes. I felt great the entire ride and did some decent climbing and repeats.
  • But… I had a hard time getting my heart rate UP… I’m usually at a 118-122 HR in my zone 2, and was about 10-12 bpm slower. This is a sign of general fatigue. Even climbing, I couldn’t get above 130-135 bpm.
  • I was glad to experience this for a few reasons. First, I knew that I hit a physical limit for the week, which was kind of the plan anyway. Secondly. despite the signal of physical fatigue, I was able to maintain speed and power throughout the ride, and even the last 10-15 miles home, I felt good and strong and felt I could have gone another 35 miles if needed.
  • Most of all, I used ZERO nutrition on this ride. 3:35 in the saddle and 65 miles while fatigued with nothing but water. Of course I brought drink mix and an energy bar, and was able to go without. Before the ride, I ate an avocado and a banana, and drank black coffee. A good indication that my body can turn to fat for sustained energy.

Sunday: Rest


  • I thought about a run, and mostly felt mentally tired from the week and wanted to just spend time doing nothing.
  • I cracked open my new book – “Power Speed Endurance” by Brian MacKenzie. (Thank you, Lena!)
  • The next focus area is mobility and flexibility.
  • Stay tuned…

One response to “Uberman Training Update

  1. Scott,
    Training looks very solid! Don’t overlook running Badwater course..
    Dan Bercu

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