A Typical Ironman Training Week

Credit: Marco Garcia/Getty Images

It can be enlightening to read how a real athlete trains. The following is by Justin Daerr, an age-group triathlete.

Throughout the triathlon season my training schedule is continually changing. During the early part of the year my coach, Joe Friel, and I focus more on strength training and skills. I still spend a fair amount of time on the road, on the trails, and in the pool, but the overall intensity of the sessions is low.

After a solid strength foundation has been established I begin to ramp up the volume of my training along with the intensity. During this base period of training I am swimming, biking and running nearly twice as much as in the previous prep period. Strength training is no longer the primary focus, but is instead put into a maintenance mode. Aerobic volume has now become the number one priority.

The base period of my training ended this year before I headed off to Boulder, Colorado, on Memorial Day weekend. Throughout this summer I have been incorporating more challenging sessions that revolve around race-specific intensity.

No week looks identical to the last, but the following weekly schedule is fairly close to what you might see me doing during the summer in Boulder.

Monday: Today is a longer aerobic day, but the intensity doesn't generally leave me feeling wiped. I start with a four- to five-kilometer session in the 50-meter pool followed by a 45- to 60-minute aerobic run. After eating and possibly napping I head out for a three- or four-hour ride in the Boulder flats.

Tuesday: This day's main goal is some faster running on the track. I do some sessions that involve much faster running than I would ever see in an Ironman, but it helps my overall run economy. I also swim four to five kilometers afterwards, but it usually involves some easier sets. I end this day with strength training.

Wednesday: My favorite day: 5K in the pool with some harder efforts, followed by a five- or six-hour ride in the mountains. Lots of climbing and plenty of beautiful scenery.

Thursday: Lighter day. Normal swimming, easy two-hour ride and an easy 45- to 60-minute run.

Friday: I tend to do my longest swim and run of the week today: five to six kilometers in the pool with harder efforts and a two-hour run in the hills in the afternoon.

Saturday: Very, very little. The main purpose of today is to recover.

Sunday: A two-hour ride with 90 minutes of higher-intensity riding followed by a 30-minute tempo run off the bike. In the afternoon I may do an easy swim before doing it all over again on Monday.

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