Ironman Training/Racing Plan

Ironman Training

Austria 2011

Goal 1 – Completion (first IM race)

Goal 2 – Sub 12hrs (realistic)

Goal 3 – Sub 11hrs (ideal)

Goal 4 – Sub 10hrs (dream season)

Some keys to performing are:

  • Consistency in training every week, month,
  • Frequency of sessions weekly,
  • Specificity to the distance and time goals,
  • Recovery. 8hrs a night.  Quality nutrition.  Soft tissue work.
  • Trying to raise one’s LT / FTP,

Monday- am-  Swim day- S+C  pm- Run
Tuesday- am- Swim  pm- Bike
Wednesday – am- Run day- S+C  pm- Bike
Thursday – REST
Friday- am- Swim day- S+C pm- Bike
Saturday- Long run with spin on bike after. (Maximum recovery required)
Sunday- Long bike with short run off.

Try not to do 2 long, or hard, or long and hard days in a row as this could lead to a culmination of chronic fatigue. Very difficult to recover from running hard intervals when your running long the very next day.
Think about how long it takes to recover from such sessions.
Recovery is the key here.
In between such sessions work on technique, drills, efficiency, form, economy training.


Swim and transitions in under 1.15. Under 1.10 preferably


5.20 – got to stay areo, and have your nutrition strategy nailed on the bike.

Bike setup – Things that can make a considerable difference in efficiency include an aero helmet a rear disc and a deep front. Also paying attention to the little things all add up. Idea’s include: cleaning up the excess gear and brake cabling, not carrying excess bottles (you only need two max), keeping your flat kit out of the wind (e.g. under the saddle), having a new(ish) chain, keeping your brakes from rubbing against the rim.

Always Aero on the Bike – Assuming you are correctly fit on your time trial bike, you should be spending 97% of you time in the aero position. That leaves around 10 minutes (for a 5:20 split) where you are not in the aero position. This 10 minutes could mean: stretching, standing on more difficult hills, and going through aid stations etc.

Bike pacing – too hard on the bike and you’ll suffer at some point in the run. A lot of people state they went easy on the bike, but then seem to suffer on the run – this always raises the question of if they really went easy enough. Ironman bike pace is really not that hard an effort I think many over estimate their pacing.

Bike nutrition – not eating enough or eating too much on the bike is going to lead to nutritional problems on the run. Whether it’s energy lows and poorer performance or stomach cramps. It’s always hard to judge on the first race, but worth really examining what you need. If you’re going sub 10 forget comfort foods eat for racing and be focussed on eating what you need to keep going at race pace – no more or less.


3.30 for the run, which is 8 min miles and pretty straight forward as long as you dont go off like a mad man or run into any problems

Run pacing – I always feel great in the first few Ks off the bike and do tend to go out too fast. Reign that in and look to start conservatively. As mentioned get it right and potentially you can pick things up in the last 10km or so. Your pace may not improve, but your perceived exertion will, sometimes that just means you maintain speed.

Run nutrition – stomach issues on the run can again come down to mixing nutritions, taking on board things you wouldn’t normally or not enough fluids. Keep things simple, go for what you know works and opt for frequent, light fuelling (e.g. a gel every 20 minutes rather than stuffing yourself every 40). In part let the need for energy override some of the stomach discomfort. If you’re running low on energy later in the run, you need to take on more during the bike/earlier in the run.

Cramping on the run – can be an electrolyte issue certainly, but also can simply be a muscle fatigue issue. Both have been known to cause cramps. It’s worth ensuring you take something in with electrolytes during the race (how much depends on how you sweat – I need very little) I just sip energy drink at some aid stations on the run. Muscle fatigue issues will come from insufficient fitness to support your pacing strategy – i.e. you’ve been going too fast at some point at least.


You can bleed time in transitions if you are not prepared. Keep your bag contents to a minimum. I had one energy bar in my T1 bag, the rest was on the bike, although thinking about it now I could have put on my helmet while running to the bike. For your T2 change you only need to stop to put your shoes and socks on, the rest can be put on while running (hat, sunscreen, fuel belt, garmin). Consider putting your race number belt and arm warmers on under your wetsuit – you won’t feel them.


This amount of planning can make the lead up to race day stress-free and straightforward. Even planning your meals etc can prevent making poor decisions in race week. Having a race day equipment list as a minimum can make setting your bike and transition bags very simple (and you can use it again and again and refine your approach). Less stress = less wasted energy.  Lists for the supporters too, so they know what you’re doing and when, where to see you on the course, etc.