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Triathlon Ironman

Triathlon Ironman: Training Strategies

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Triathlon Ironman

Triathlon Ironman

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.

7. Lift

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

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Ironman Triathlon

Ironman Triathlon Beginner Tips

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Ironman Triathlon

Ironman Triathlon

Ever wondered how to train for an Ironman race: a 3.86km swim and 180km cycle, followed by a marathon? UK champion Fraser Cartmell shares his elite regime, while his coach, Gordon Crawford, offers some top tips for novices.

Signing up to your first Ironman is an exhilirating, scary prospect. Whether you’ve just put your name down or are still hovering over the ‘enter now’ button, here are a few points to bear in mind about Ironman racing.

It’s easy to get carried away when your clubmates start planning a trip to a big IM race for next year, especially if they’ve just come back from a 2009 race full of inspiring stories and PBs. But to make a good job of Ironman (and enjoy it) you must want to do it for yourself.

You’ll need a break from hard training after this season, but don’t let it fall off completely over the winter. Your race may be a long way off, but you risk injury if you stop training then suddenly jump back in six months later.

No one’s ironman experience is the same, but you’ll have a better idea what you’re getting into if you speak to as many Ironman friends as possible. They will have learnt lessons during their build-up and can help you avoid little pitfalls that can make a big difference.

You’re already a triathlete, so you know there’s more to training than just totting up a couple of sessions in each discipline every week. You need to plan your training to make sure you’re doing enough of everything and keeping your sessions well balanced.

An ironman race lasts a day, so don’t make excuses when training: if you’ve planned a five-hour bike ride, stick it out. But you’ll also need to learn when to back off: persistent fatigue, sniffles and niggles and low mood are all signs of overtraining. Take a few days off to regroup.

Don’t stop your sprint and Olympicdistance races in the build up to your Ironman; they’re invaluable race practice and will add interest to your training. But don’t expect to be at your fastest after months of slow Ironman training if you haven’t done any intense speedwork. If you’re keen to set new PBs, wait till after your IM and use your endurance base as the foundation for a few weeks’ speedwork.

Not all ironman races are equal. If this is your first race, you’ll probably want to minimise travel and jetlag by doing a UK or European event (these coincide with the UK race season; see p8). You must also decide whether you’re looking for a particularly tough course, just want to get round, or really want to race hard. There are 24 Ironman races in total: visit for a full list. More at 25 Beginner’s Ironman Tips

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Triathlon Training Plan

Triathlon Training Plan: Ironman Speed

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Triathlon Training Plan

Triathlon Training Plan

Less than three years ago, Kendra Goffredo didn’t know how to swim, hadn’t ridden a bike in 15 years, and was coping with a running injury — not the most auspicious circumstances to tackle a triathlon, let alone an Ironman. But after her brother-in-law issued the challenge to race Ironman Arizona to raise money for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF), an organisation that has supported her family (her father has battled the blood cancer for the past 7 years), she found a profound purpose.

A former Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador and Nepal, Goffredo brought her appetite for adventure and intrepid personality to her training. She linked up with tri clubs Team Z and Ignite Endurance near her Arlington home, went to her first Masters workout, and began rehabbing her foot and learning how to bike train. She raced her first Olympic (now almost two years ago) and loved it, but her first taste of success was at the Musselman half where she beat all the guys she’d been trying to chase in training. “I thought, ‘Oh wow, maybe the longer the better,’” says Goffredo. That hunch was spot on, as she finished fourth in her very first Ironman (10:27:58).

Today, the 30-year-old consistently finishes atop the podium in any long-course race she starts.

Here she offers four tips from her own rapid-rise journey in the sport:

Be consistent and structured with pool training
“I’m one of those people who literally could not swim across the pool,” says Goffredo, who now finishes the half-iron swim in about 35 minutes. “I noticed a big difference when I went from swimming twice a week to 3-4 times per week,” she says. “It was just consistency — getting in the pool more frequently. Going longer has also been productive. She’ll average about 3,000 metres per workout, but three times each month she’ll log 5,000-6,000 metres. Another key tactic is starting each swim with a specific set in mind. “I really need to have something written down before I get into the pool, otherwise my breaks are too long and I end up chatting with other people,” she says.

Be like a yogi: Set an intention
An avid yoga practitioner, Goffredo applies the principle of always setting an intention to her triathlon training. “Maybe it’s a recovery ride and it’s just to stretch my legs out, or to breathe and feel lucky that I can cycle, or just being grateful that I’m not still at work. Sometimes my intention is to put in serious work so I can get faster.”

Train with people who are a little faster
Goffredo also credits her dramatic swimming improvement to training with a friend who is a bit faster than her. “It pushes me, and I know that’s made a big difference,” she says. “Also, I’ve found guys to bike with who accept me as one of the crew, and they push me and give me tips. I’ve figured out the days that I should join them and days that I shouldn’t.”

Make it about more than you
Goffredo draws substantial motivation and personal gratification from the fact that she’s swimming, biking and running for a cause that means something to her. “I’ve been able to have success, which has meant that people are interested in what I’m wearing or what I’m writing about on my blog (, and I see that as a unique opportunity to do something for the greater good,” she says. “Through this platform, my family and I and our supporters have been able to raise $65,000 for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. It’s brought meaning to what I do not just on race day, but when the alarm goes off and there’s that decision that I have to make to get out of bed, I remind myself that I’m not just doing it for myself.” More at The Fast Track To Ironman Speed

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