Ironman Training Special Article

There are very important considerations when planning for next seasons Ironman triathlon. Ironmate advise on successful and enjoyable Ironman competing. Ironmate’s passion is to educate and help you to avoid errors. A few concentrated minutes of reading below could save you wasted hours and prevent a stressful build up to your Ironman event.

Training any longer than 24 weeks (6 months) will lead to:

  • Over training - Wasted training time and a disappointing race
  • Mental Burn Out - Before or on race day means you will be unable to push through when things get tough
  • Illness - Reduced immune system
  • Injury - Over use or monotony of similar training
  • Plateau performance - Under performing on race day
  • Stress - trying to fit in too much for more than six months and neglecting the rest of your very important life!


By training for more than 6 months for your next Ironman you seriously risk over training. Training in many different ways, adding variety and not continually repeating the same sessions improve endurance. If you keep adding volume for six months without any consideration to fitness gains, you will always lead yourself into a state of being over trained.

You are more likely to have a great Ironman by doing less training than TOO MUCH! Training causes fatigue and only with adequate rest will you improve. If you feel tired you have part succeeded but your body has to adapt to be able to progress forward.

Being fit from other types of training in September, October and November will allow you to have all- round fitness; this will the base to prepare your body for the winter months of Ironman training.


It is very easy to become stale from training for the IronMan. It is not easy to see the signs personally, not easy to see that you have mental burn out. As your mind becomes more tired from the training you end up putting in huge effort only to go slower into that headwind or up that hill as you are unable to dig deep.


Being fresh going into the winter will reduce your chance of becoming sick more than once during the winter. By having consistent uninterrupted training you will develop confidence and improved fitness levels.

If you have been injury free over the summer months then doing alternative training before your Ironman build up will give you much better all round total fitness as you progress through the winter. If you have any reoccurring injuries its needs to be addressed NOW! Resistance training is especially important.

Many Iron man athletes plateau in the last 6 weeks before the Ironman. This is typically due to their build- up starting more than 8 months before Ironman day. The only way you can prepare for longer is by having a break at the end of the season.

A planned reduction in training is necessary. Even if you think you do not need it - you do!!!

To overcome any plateau, you need to consider unstructured training before you start your Ironman build up. Use all different types of cross and alternative training.


Training until December Ironmate suggests some important monthly sessions. Aim for one of each of the following listed to get you ready for the start of your Ironman build up.

Include the following exercises if short of time rotate the list every other time.

Cardio- strength; dynamic fitness - include Lunges, dips, squats, plank, shuttle runs, press ups, quick feet step ups and star jumps.


Start running off-road in September and get accustomed to off- road running before the weather gets colder and the terrain changes. This improves balance, change of pace, different terrain and is more specific to Ironman running.


Fat burning builds up endurance. Get use to being on your feet


Improves bike handling skills, improves cadence and strength.


Improving body awareness, increases flexibility and slow controlled movements.


Strengthens tones and stretches you without the need for equipment; improve the body and mind and learn to relax. Improve breathing and visualization.


Weight training; Riding a mountain bike; Running off road; Swiss ball and core work outs links up muscles together for improved total strength. During the latter hours of your Ironman race you will being using your strength as you fatigue.


Gentle stretching assists as you get to know your body better and its limitations. Better for any endurance events reduces muscle fatigue. The tighter your muscles the sooner they will shorten when dehydrated and or fatigued.

WEAKNESS - Specific Training

Everyone has a weak sport. Consider the following when training in the off- season before you start a structured plan.
Are you?

  • Prone to injury = Reduce the risk
  • Particular sport causes tiredness = Aim for improved efficiency, technique.
  • Lack endurance in one sport = Before you start increasing longer sessions you must first increase frequency
  • In-efficient body control = Weak skills, do drills for every discipline (run drills; single legged cycling)
  • Know that you can improve = be consistent, find a training partner


If you plan on doing 12-14 hours training a week at peak for the Ironman (10-4 weeks pre- Ironman) then consider NO more than 25% of time spent swimming, cycling and running during the ticking over period of training. So only train 3-3.5 hours per week plus other types mentioned in winter training.

No timed swims cycle and runs as Nike say "Just do it"


Easy and medium but NOT hard training as you will only be able to sustain high efforts for up to 12 weeks pre- Ironman. So save the tougher workouts until you have a much better base. There is plenty of time for tough workouts.


It is doubtful that you will gain as much endurance fitness by doing the same number of hours a week. Aim for 3 weeks high volume one week reduction by at least 25%.(I.e. 10 hours a week 1-3 then 7.5 hours week 4).

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