Let's look at the plan in general (click on the workouts shown for details). Saturday and Sunday workouts are long ones, with training hours building throughout the 13 weeks. If your work or life schedule does not allow for long weekend workouts, the system allows you to easily shift the workouts to a different day.
The initial weekend cycling workout lasts for 1 hour, 30 minutes and builds to five hours two weeks prior to the race. The long run begins at 1:30, building to three hours in week 11. Swimming begins at 1:00 and builds to 1:30—not as much growth as cycling and running.
More: A Typical Ironman Training Week
In the first four weeks of training, workout time increases to build overall endurance. Intensity stays fairly low. If you are swimming with a masters group, try to have the coach include at least one 1,000-yard steady swim. Your long, weekend swim should have a main set in the 1,000 to 1,500 yard range.
The fourth week is a rest week. Then, in the second four weeks, the weekend-training volume continues to grow. For swimming, include at least one 1,650-yard steady swim, rest two to three minutes, then immediately swim another 500 to 800 yards. On Saturdays, make the main set of the swim workout in the 1,500 to 2,500 yard range.
Because weekend workouts are the main focus, there are more days of rest during weeks five, six and seven to allow for recovery. By the end of week seven, you'll train a total of eight hours over the two weekend days.
The weekend total training hours continue to build to about 9:30, by the end of week 11. Include at least one steady swim—with minimal rest—around 45 minutes to 60 minutes. On Saturdays, make the main set of the swim workout in the 2,000- to 3,000-yard range. Include some open water swims if a safe situation for practice sessions is available.
The long run on Sunday of week 11 will be the last long workout before reducing training volume. Weeks 12 and 13 are designed for recovery and to fill your muscles full of glycogen. Short workouts with quick accelerations are designed to keep your arms and legs feeling fresh. WARNING: Do not be tempted to increase training volume during weeks 12 and 13.
More: 10 Things to Ask Yourself Before Tackling an Ironman
While Training for an Ironman...
If you're getting tired, it is OK to:
- Totally skip one low-intensity workout and rest instead.
- Reduce the Saturday bike by up to 30 minutes or the Sunday run by 15 minutes.
- Do an entire medium-intensity workout within a lower heart rate zone.