A 12-Month Overview of Long-Distance Training

Four to Eight Months Out

If you're a beginning racer and life got busy, completely distracting you from training the last few months, don't panic. You still have time to get ready to race.

Your goal in the next few weeks is to be consistent with your training. Try to get two workouts completed in each sport, each week. You can even include some strength training if it suits your fancy.

More: The 12 Best Strength Training Exercises for Triathletes

Your main goals are to be easily capable of completing the following workouts within a single week:

  • Two 30-minute swims
  • One 30-minute run and a second run of 60 minutes
  • One bike ride 30 to 40 minutes in length and a second ride 90 to 120 minutes in length

Intermediate athletes and the advanced athletes that have been doing general training can move to more sport-specific training and reduce or completely eliminate cross-training activities.

Advanced athletes that are racing shorter distances want to have that racing completed in these months and allow enough time for recovery. I give these athletes a week of recovery between the two racing blocks.

More: Determining Your Race Recovery Time

Three to Four Months Out

This is the pre-competitive and competitive phase of training. For long distance racers, this is the time to build overall race endurance and work at race pace intensities while leaving enough time to taper training volume in the three or so weeks prior to race day.

The biggest training week for beginning racers will be somewhere around the 13-hour mark. Intermediate racers will include more tempo training in your race plans and your biggest training week will be some 13 to 18 hours. Advanced racers that are not elite athletes will have their biggest training week at 15 to 20 hours, or slightly more.

More: Bouncing Back From IRONMAN

Ramp Up and Down

For long-distance racers, peak volume of training for race day occurs within the last month before the race. Once volume has peaked, there are several different strategies for tapering training volume, such as tapering all sport volumes at the same time or beginning by tapering run volume, then bike volume and finally swim volume.

In all cases, be sure you head into race week well rested and eager to toe the line.

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