How to Make the Most of Your Ironman Training

Written by

One of the challenges of any endurance sport is finding the time to train. The issue is even more pronounced for triathletes, especially those training for an Ironman, who train three different sports simultaneously.

More: 10 Steps to Designing a Training Plan

But Terry Nugent, a former NFL quarterback and current age-grouper triathlete, might just have the secret to maximizing triathlon training.

In a recent interview, Nugent revealed how he squeezes in over twenty hours a week for training—even with a full-time job and a gig coaching his son's baseball team—and how he ensures those long hours of training carry over onto race day, including the Ford Ironman World Championships.

Tip No.1: Every Training Session Must Have a Focus

So how does Nugent get the most out of his training time? Well, one thing he's learned from his coach, Dave Scott (six-time Ironman champion), is to make sure each training session has a goal.

"It is very rare for me to ever do a workout that doesn't have a defined objective in it," said Nugent.

"There's always sets to do. There's always markers to hit. There's always a certain cadence level to push."

The key, according to Nugent, is to make sure that every workout has a purpose so that training time is never wasted. And not just at the macro level. Whether it's speed work or transition time, Nugent makes sure his training has clear objectives.

"If I don't know what I'm trying to accomplish, then how will I know when I've succeeded?"

More: Identify Great Goals

Tip No.2: Find Balance

With the large amount of time spent training, it's important for triathletes to maintain balance in their lives. If workouts become all-encompassing, the risk of burning out and neglecting important relationships becomes high.

"There's three things that I do. I train, I work, and I coach youth sports.," said Nugent. "That includes my eleven-year-old's baseball team, football team, and basketball team."

But as any triathlete knows, there aren't enough hours in the day to do everything. "I have a very limited social calendar, but that's by choice."

Nugent also helps balance his full-time job as a private wealth advisor, and his commitment to coaching, by training early in the morning before work, and then training again after work before going to his son's practices.

"If you don't design it the way you want it, it just doesn't happen."

More: How to Be Consistent With Your Training

Tip No.3: Race On Race Day

In order to make sure all of the time he's spent training is worthwhile on race day, Nugent says it's critical to remember that "on race day, it's a race; not a training day."

He reminds his fellow triathletes to really push themselves when the miles actually count. "It's a race and there's a reason for it." Although Nugent trains hard during every workout, he says, "on race days, I try to really get engaged."

And with a sub-ten hour time at Kona in his pocket, it's hard to argue with the results.

More: 10 Easy Ways to Ruin Your Race

Active logoFind your next triathlon.