Triathlon Ironman: Training Strategies
“Listing down tips for your Triathlon Ironman training. Read it now!”
1. Complete Short Swims
Swimming requires much more efficiency, economy, and technique than it requires pure fitness. With this in mind, frequency and consistency in swimming is more important than marathon swim workouts of 60-90 minutes, which is typically how long a Master’s swim class goes for.
So for your Ironman swim training, you only need to swim “long” once per week, and that swim shouldn’t be any longer than 60 minutes. Rather than a steady, slow swim, structure this workout to include hard, race pace intervals with short rests.
2. Bike Indoors
Cycling can involve dressing, checking tire pressure, getting gloves or toe warmers, filling water bottles, meeting with a group and other activities that can take 15-20 minutes before you’re even on the road training. And once you’re finally out there, traffic lights and stop signs can significantly distract from the efficacy of your workout. This is not to discourage you from biking outdoors, but in order to build fitness, first train indoors.
So if you want to maximize your cycling fitness, find a room in the house to be your pain center, set up an indoor trainer, and do 1-2 short, intense indoor bike trainer sessions per week. You’ll stay focused and structured with this approach. For these, I like indoor workouts like 40-60 minute bike fests in the gym.
3. Stay Away From Early Season Long Bikes
With a simple approach, you only need to ride long (or ride outdoors) a maximum of once per week. This one ride can take anywhere from 2-5 hours, depending on how close you are to your destination race. In stark contrast to their peers, who are biking during the winter for 3 hour indoor trainer sessions, and heading outside on 4-5 hour bike rides several months before the actual Ironman, most athletes do just two or three such long rides, and only in the final 8 weeks before Ironman. This serves them just fine.
4. Bike On Your Own
For both your indoor training session and your outdoor rides, you should attempt to ride alone as much as possible, and here’s why: group rides not only require lots of time investment to get a group together and head out for the session, but these rides also include lots of drafting, socializing and pace fluctuations. All of which won’t be taking place during your actual Ironman. So ride alone and avoid groups during your cycling workouts and you’ll get ahead faster.
5. Avoid Long Runs
You read that right. No long runs. While a long bike ride is a session from which you can recover relatively quickly, a long run (2+ hours) can significantly impact your joints and literally keep you inflamed and beat up for up to 2 weeks.
In the same way that anaerobic high intensity interval sessions have been shown to considerably enhance aerobic fitness, short and intense runs of 80-90 minutes are all you need to get you ready for the Ironman marathon – and some of the best Ironman performances have come from running only once per week for 90 minutes (with cross training). The trick is that you need to make these 80-90 minute runs high-quality, not long slow death slogs like most Ironman athletes treat their long run. Do this session on fresh legs, after a good day’s rest, and you’ll maximize the intensity and efficiency of your one key run training session.
6. Run On Short Courses
If you do opt to run more than once per week, you should refrain from long courses, like 3 mile loops or long trails, because the longer the course, the more likely it is that you’ll take your time and run it slow. Instead, choose to run on tracks, neighborhood blocks, or short loops, which are far more conducive to brief, high-quality and intense intervals.
Strength training can improve endurance performance by increasing neuromuscular recruitment, efficiency and economy – especially for cyclists and runners. Evidence, particularly from many older endurance athletes, suggests that strength training also plays a significant role in injury prevention.
Compared to short distance (Olympic and sprint) triathletes, you’ll notice that the best Ironman triathletes tend to be slightly bulkier and more tones (just do a Google image search for Ironman World Champion Craig Alexander and compare it to Olympic distance World Champion Alistair Brownlee). This added strength and muscle, which you can realistically achieve with 1-2 full body weight training sessions each week, can significantly enhance joint stability, cushioning, and impact during the relatively long and rigorous Ironman event. More at Top 10 Minimal Ironman Triathlon Training Tips