Photo credit: BrakeThrough Media
Whether you’re a seasoned triathlete or an aspiring bucket lister, deciding to pursue the ultimate swim-bike-run – the Ironman – is as inspiring and exciting as it is intimidating and daunting. Completing 140.6 miles over the course of a single day is a major feat, and while nailing everything on race day is the goal, the key to success lies in your Ironman training plan. Overwhelmed by the options, the distances, and the time commitment?
Here are three important factors three-time Ironman and coach Christopher Baker says to consider before going the distance.
1. Find A training plan that FITS your lifestyle – and be ready to make some sacrifices
There’s no lazy man’s guide to completing an Ironman. If you want to be able to complete all 140.6 miles, you need to get yourself in the zone and put in ample work to make that happen.
Sure, you may miss a few workouts along the way, but prioritizing your training schedule will pay off on race day. “Not following through with your training could result in any number of injuries,” Baker says. “Then, you’re likely to bonk somewhere along the bike, or most certainly into the run, and you risk not finishing the event.”
You may have to turn down social activities, travel opportunities, and work happy hours during your training season, but your sacrifices will feel worth it when you cross that finish line.
2. A longer training plan isn’t necessarily better
While some athletes choose to devote six months to training for an Ironman, others opt for a training cycle that lasts up to a full calendar year. There are benefits – and drawbacks – to both Ironman training plans.
“For seasoned triathletes, 12–16 weeks is a solid time frame to build up to and complete the race,” Baker says. But consider your current base. If you’re coming off an extended off-season or an injury, you’ll want to find a plan that allows a longer build up before adding intense workouts.”
For athletes who are prone to injury, longer season plans allow more time for setbacks and to recover and rebuild from them. But if you’re already in peak training condition, a shorter plan may be your best bet to avoid burnout.
3. Don’t expect it to be easy
Completing an Ironman is a popular bucket list item among athletes today. And while that’s a great thing, if that’s your goal, don’t go in with the mentality of wanting to just get it over with.
The more you immerse yourself in your training, your nutrition, and your recovery, the more likely you are to enjoy those six-hour training rides and brick workouts. “If you do the work, you’ll feel the results on race day,” Baker says.