Training with mixed ability Ironman and Triathlon athletes



There will always be occasions when you train with others of different ability.
If swimming side-by-side then the faster swimmer should use right arm for half a length then change arms. Alternatively the quicker swimmer to swim either breaststroke butterfly or back stroke. Time each stroke you could even have a handicap race. If the faster swimmer takes 2 minutes to swim a set distance with various swim strokes and the slower swimmer takes 2 minutes front crawl handicap training can be done.
You may find the quicker swimmer has times similar to their training buddy on their weaker strokes. Aim to get the slower athlete to choose the faster stroke front crawl. Swimming is not as noticeable when training indoors as you always are close together.
In swimming athletes of all abilities can complete an interval session taking the same rest i.e. 20 seconds after each interval or all starting the next interval every 2 minutes. However the slower swimmers will be getting less recovery.
Another option is the faster swimmer completes more reps than the slower athlete. All aim to finish after 20 minutes or the agreed set.

CYCLING.
If you are training with someone on the road who is weaker then ride a mountain bike or a heavier bike to try and even out the differences? The stronger athlete should carry all the spares and drinks to make the bike heavier.
When you reach a hill the stronger rider goes on ahead after about 25% turns around safely and descends to the bottom turns again and then rides back up the hill steady to catch their training friend.
A stronger cyclist could ride with a weaker rider by staying in a much easier gear than normal, after 15 minutes of this type of riding it can soon cause fatigue but will improve faster cadence in the future. Weaker cyclist can also learn to ride close behind, as this will save up to 25% of their energy as the front rider is forced to cut thru the wind.
This type of energy saving is more noticeable on windy days. Train before meeting up with a buddy who trains easier to lose some of the zip in your legs. Option one could be hills reps prior to meeting up. Option two could be completing a private time trial against the clock. Any distance from 5-30 miles.
Use the ride with your buddy as a long warm down. Option three competes in a cycle road race or time trial competition then train later with your buddy.

RUNNING
Off road running- Quicker runner to carry a camel back, speed may not be noticeable until you start running up hills then the extra weight soon makes it hard work. If running along a footpath quicker runner to run thru taller grass at the edge or softer muddy sections. Quicker runner stays just behind, but instead of following in a straight line takes a zigzag route to cover extra distance.
Another option is to walk behind slower runner giving them 50 meters then run hard to catch them up. Jog by their side and repeat this every 2-5 minutes for a fartlek style run.

Hilly running- The faster runner turns around at about 25% of hill then run back down to bottom before chasing up the slower runner. This is not a hill rep session but designed to keep both runners close together. The result is a social run where all athletes eventually get use to how much extra to do to keep together at certain points throughout the run. All runners run for the same time the fitter runners just run further.
Run intervals- Complete this in a straight line across a field. All runners set their watches for the alarm to go off at the agreed time or just set off watches simultaneously or a coach blows his whistle.
This could be one minute intervals (12x 1 minute hard with 12x 1 minute recoveries) Runners of all abilities all run fast for one minute, then stop and recover for the next minute then run back in the opposite direction.
The aim is for all runners to run their own individual distance for the whole session. All run hard for the same time, one way the faster athletes cover further ground. As you all have to back track the idea is you all finish at the same starting point together for the second fourth sixth etc.
WEIGHT TRAINING.
Training easy after weight resistance workout is a way to build up endurance. Doing hard training on the same day can be counter productive so training with easy with a buddy who is slower helps both athletes. This theory can be used for swimming cycling and running.

Group training
Training with a group can increase the level of intensity. Sometimes this can make you try much harder than you need to. Very sociable and you can monitor your fitness levels over many months with athletes of similar ability.
If you train with an athlete that is not as fit this can be a maintenance session.
Group running.
If running you can do the American dollar session- the faster athlete runs in a figure of S while the slower athlete runs in a straight line. The faster athlete always passes by behind the slower runner making sure you do not collide.
Intervals- The faster runner can run in the outside lane or give the athlete a head start, another session is both runners run in a straight line for an agreed time say 60 seconds then stop. You place a marker (Coin-Drinks bottle-T-shirt) after adequate rest you both run back to the start and repeat.
The winner is the runner who can cross both imaginary marks every time. This is good for pace judgment.