A 12-Month Overview of Long-Distance Training

Many of the popular IRONMAN or IRONMAN-distance events sell out a year in advance of the race. For many athletes, once the confirmation note comes to inform you that you are officially entered into the event it is also the official beginning of anxiety.

It is the anxious feeling that you should be training right now. You should train every day of the week and you should be training around 20 hours per week. And you should be worried because 140.6 miles is a long way to propel yourself.

Don't let anxiety take hold. Prepare yourself before the letter arrives. The real question you should ask yourself is when should you ramp up training for a long-distance triathlon?

More: Should You Do an IRONMAN Triathlon?

Nine to 12 Months Out

If you have never completed a long-distance triathlon, and are currently not training at all, your training nine to 12 months out from the race needs to be dedicated to building foundation fitness. This is the preparation phase of training. Most of this training is at an aerobic level. (For a description of intensities and a cross-reference table for terms used by other coaches, see this free download file.)

What you're aiming to do is condition tendons, ligaments, muscles, the metabolic system and your mind—among other things—for future training. In all cases, you want to minimize the risk of injury and improve the probability that you'll have a good race.

If you are an intermediate athlete carrying some level of fitness, say currently training some six to 10 hours per week, this time is most likely dedicated to maintaining fitness. In addition to aerobic training, you might be doing some tempo training.

If you are an advanced athlete, you've been training for years, and you've successfully completed some long-distance triathlon events. At this point you might be recovering from a season of racing and primarily focusing on aerobic training. If you are doing a split year, the first half of the year is dedicated to shorter distance, fast racing or racing another sport such as winter triathlon.

More: A Typical IRONMAN Training Week

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