Ironman Training Plan: Getting Ready for the Big Day!

“You’re signed up for your first race and have six months to go. This plan will get you to the line, ready to complete 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles on the bike and a 26.2-mile marathon run. Read on!”

Ironman Training Plan

Ironman Training Plan

If you’ve committed to completing your first IRONMAN race, first of all: congratulations. Now it’s time to get going, take stock of your fitness and schedule and focus on your goal.

With six months stretching before you, it’s key to start forming good training habits, building base miles and working on identifying strengths and weaknesses. However, it’s important to avoid burn out—since six months of IRONMAN training can take its toll. It’s also smart to give employers and family a heads-up about the incredible achievement you’re aiming for, and how it might require a few changes.

You can train yourself, but having an experienced coach who understands your specific needs will be money well-spent. And before you start training, there are two simple things you can do that will help get you off to a good start:
1. Get your swim technique checked. A good swim coach will pick up any weaknesses you can work on before the big weeks of training kick in.
2. Get a professional bike fit. This will make cycling comfortable and ensure you are as efficient as possible with your technique.
Every athlete is different. Some will find this kind of schedule easy, others will struggle. And everyone will need to adapt it to his/her life and needs. But if you pick five key sessions to focus on, and don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do more, a six-month plan based on the below schedule will get you to the start line.

Six months out
Aim for five key sessions each week.
Monday – 1 hour swim
Tuesday – 1 hour cycle
Wednesday – DAY OFF
Thursday – 45 to 60 min. run
Friday – 1 hour swim
Saturday – 60 min. run
Sunday – 2 to 3 hour cycle

Five months out
Gradually increase the time spent on each discipline in the schedule above by roughly 10 percent each week.
At the end of the first two months, I suggest taking a week’s break before ramping up your training with a 16-week IRONMAN-specific schedule. You can also use this time to address any technical issues.

Four months out
Monday – DAY OFF
Tuesday – 1.5 hour cycle/1 hour run
Wednesday – 1 hour swim
Thursday – 1.5 hour cycle/1 hour run
Friday – 1 hour swim
Saturday – 3 to 4 hour cycle/15 min. run off the bike
Sunday – 40 min. ocean swim/ 1.5 hour run
You should increase the cycle and run times by 10 percent (on average) each week throughout the month, allowing one week to be slightly less as a recovery week.

Three months out
Monday – DAY OFF
Tuesday – 1.5 hour cycle/70 min. run
Wednesday – 1 hour swim increasing distance at session
Thursday – 2 hour cycle
Friday – 1 hour swim
Saturday – 4 to 5 hour cycle/20 min run off the bike
Sunday – 45 min ocean swim/1.45 run

More at IRONMAN 101: A Six-Month Training Plan

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