It's Ironman (training) Time

Now it's time for the real deal. Not just preparing my body to handle training. Not just for shorter races. Not just whatever I feel like. It is now time to do what it takes to go fast at Port Macquarie next April. Time to start Ironman training.

Here's the plan.

I have 18 weeks. These weeks will be broken up into three phases:
  1. IM I (8 weeks)
  2. IM II (6 weeks)
  3. Taper (4 weeks)


The main goal of IM I is pretty simple.

Build up my endurance to cover the distance.

Therefore the key sessions will be the long days. These will generally be performed at heart rate ranges of 60-80% HRmax. Initially most of the work will be at the lower end of the scale. The challenge is just to be out there covering those kilometres (with good form of course). The challenge is not in the intensity.

During these 8 weeks the distances will progress as follows:

Swim: 3000-5600m

Bike: 120-180km

Run: 3-3.5 hours

SBR Combo 6-8 hours

To help ensure appropriate recovery these key sessions will fit into 8-9 day cycles. (No such thing as a seven day week for this shift worker).

What about the rest? I still have to keep my body, powerful and in touch with speed, but just to a level that supports rather than limits the endurance training. In each cycle I will include 2 strength sessions, 1 plyometrics and the rest will be filled with moderate, steady efforts in each of the disciplines. Hopefully the steady efforts will be at around 70-85%HRmax, but will be done on feel, possibly achieving what Lydiard proposed as a steady state pace. However, if my body wants rest, then that will be what it gets.

The second goal of this phase is to develop my cycling. It is clear from my last Half Ironman and sprint distance races that my bike is way down from where I want it to be. My bike splits have put me below the average, while my run is right up towards the sharp end of the field, and my swim is at the top quarter. Therefore, for the run I just need to maintain the level I'm at while making sure the distance isn't a problem. In the water I'm sure I'll find myself at around a 60-62 minute capability by just maintaining consistency. On the bike I have a lot of work to do.

How will I achieve the improvement on the bike? The plan is simple when it's on paper. Make sure I have good days on the long bike rides. Make the bike the main focus of the SBR combos and achieve a high frequency of cycling sessions for the steady efforts. To achieve a high frequency I will cycle to and from work (giving two rides on some days) and limit myself to only one day without cycling each training cycle. The extra swimming and running take a back seat to cycling at this stage.


Things get shuffled around a bit here. The training cycle is reduced to 7-8 days and the intensity is increased. For these six weeks the key sessions are:

Swim: 6000-7000m

Bike: 190-240km

Run: alternate each week between 3.5 hours @ 60-80%HRmax and 2.5-3 hours steady-fast finish.

SBR: 8 hours at around predicted race pace.

VO2max/Anaerobic: 1x run and 1x bike or performed as a brick session.

I will maintain 2 Strength/Power sessions and 1 Plyometrics session. The steady sessions will become easier, likely performed as active recovery to ensure I can absorb the key sessions. This phase is about defining my expected race paces and the ability to sustain these. Hopefully I can replicate much of the demands of the race, both mental and physical, but without inducing undue fatigue.


Four weeks of steadily reducing training volume so that I am fully recovered from the demands training and ready to race to my potential. This is not the time introduce new demands on the body. While it the focus is recovery, it is important not to become inactive and lose the gains of training. How I hope to achieve this will be outlined closer to race day. Much of the taper will depend on how the rest of training progresses.

So that's the plan. The essence is in just getting out there and covering a large number kilometres. It is far from rocket science. The hard part is making sure I keep my life organised enough so that I can maintain consistency in training.

You know you are a triathlete when you clean your bike more often than your car.


  1. Looks like a pretty solid plan. You've obviously read up on training basics like periodization, and the breakouts into different phases are good.

    With respect to: "You know you are a triathlete when you clean your bike more often than your car."

    I wasn't aware I was supposed to clean my bad.

  2. We're not allowed to clean our cars up here - not enough water!

    You have the plan - now to execute it. As you said, being organised (and staying healthy) is the hard part.

    Re the 'experiment of one'. That's why (at the moment) I'm enjoying not being coached, even though most of my PBs were run when I was coached. I'm liking the freedom of trying a method of training to see what happens.

  3. plan in order, now get fired up!!!
    Best training wishes.


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