How to Plan Your First Ironman Season

This following is an excerpt of the first chapter of Endurance Nation's new eBook, Crossing the Line: Everything You Need to Know About Racing Your First Ironman But Were Afraid To Ask. Sign up to become a subscriber to the free Endurance Nation newsletter and receive a free copy of Crossing the Line. Doors to the team are also open to new members, now through May 30, 2014.

So you've registered for your first Ironman a year in advance of the event, and you're wondering, "what do I do now?"

For now, forget periodization, mesocycles, microcycles and other triathlon training mumbo jumbo. We'd like to share with you the big picture, season-planning perspective that we've learned through nearly 25 years of Ironman coaching experience, and the lessons we've learned and applied to the seasons of over 1,000 Ironman finishers per year since 2010.

More: Q&A With a First-Time Ironman Finisher

The "It's On!" Day

Open up your calendar and go to the date of your first Ironman. Now, count backwards about 12 to 14 weeks and put a big red "X" on that Monday. This is your It's On Day (IOD), the day on which you officially start training for your first Ironman. Until this date, you're NOT training for your Ironman. By this, we mean feet on the floor at 5 a.m, head in a space where you think the workout you are doing. Today is the beginning of preparation for your first Ironman. The trick is, you don't want your head in that space until about 12 to 14 weeks out.

Up until your IOD, you're simply training to train. Or, more specifically, you've placed smaller, intermediary and fun races or training events on your calendar. You're training for these smaller goals, not your Ironman. You're racing Ironman Wisconsin, for example, the first week of September.

So you train for and race a holiday 10K, then a February half marathon, followed by a fun spring century with your friends. From there you transition to focusing on the first local Olympic in May, or that half Ironman in early June. You then wake up on June 16th, 12 weeks out from Ironman Wisconsin, and officially begin training for Madison.

More: Race Day: Have a Plan to Finish Your First Ironman

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About the Author

Endurance Nation

Endurance Nation is the world's only 400-person long-course triathlon team, with 25 to 35 athletes in every U.S. Ironman this season. Find out more at

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