Fitness Instructor And Triathlon Training

by Katie

Hi! I am training for an Ironman that is happening on Dec 1 this year and I teach several group fitness classes per week. So I'm 26 weeks out. I want to be smart about scheduling my triathlon training sessions on days that they will be complemented by my fitness classes.

Do you have any advice?

This is my class schedule (including masters swim that I attend, which is my only option for swim schedule).

• Monday - Masters swim
• Tuesday - 50 minute RPM (cycling) class
• Wednesday - Masters swim, 60 min Body Pump (Weight lifting)
• Thursday - 50 min RPM
• Friday - Masters swim, 60 min Body Flow (yoga-ish)
• Saturday - 60 min Body Combat (MMA-type class)

Intelligent Triathlon Training replies:

Firstly, the advice that follows assumes that you have plenty of time outside of your fitness class schedule to train. In addition, we will assume that you are not always working at as high a relative intensity as your clients are during the classes, therefore hopefully they won’t leave you too fatigued.

The key thing missing from your current schedule is any running, so we must assume that you are relatively inexperienced in this discipline.

Also, we are assuming that because of the amount of exercise you are getting from the classes you teach, you have a good level of basic fitness. You probably also have good basic core body control and strength.

However an Ironman will require quite a different type of fitness – all the classes you teach appear to be high intensity and relatively short, compared to Ironman training.

Ironman training is basically about building up a lot of low-intensity, high volume training, to build fatigue resistance, through cardiovascular and muscular endurance, rather than muscular strength.

With regards how you might go about fitting your Ironman training round your fitness classes, here are some suggestions:

In the early stages of your training programme, you should look to build upon your strengths ie swimming and probably cycling, and build slowly into running.

Swimming: The 3 master swim sessions are ideal (without knowing the specifics), so long as the distances you cover are high enough (aiming for 7 – 12k per week).

You would probably look to add a few open water swim races at weekends to give you experience of open water in a wetsuit, and also the continuity of swimming for 3K+ in one go, and getting used to swimming in large groups.

Cycling: Obviously the distance and volume you do will have to increase. If you have time to tag on bike sessions to your 2 classes on Tuesday and Thursday, look to do some easy/steady riding, gradually building up the distance. The aim is to get comfortable riding long distances. To start with you might want to do these sessions after your classes, but once you get up to 3 hours, you might want to do an hour before your class, then doing another couple of hours after the class.

You should also aim to include another long Extensive Endurance ride at the weekend (see here for an explanation of this type of session).

Running: You should try and do your running when you are feeling fairly fresh, ie the first session of the day, although this is probably not always possible. This would help you to maintain technique and core control and ensure you get the most out of each run session.

Initially, you should try to keep distances/durations down, and build these up gradually. Aim to run shorter distances more often rather than long distances less often.

With 26 weeks to go, if you are patient and maintain consistency, you will be able to build the durations up significantly after 10 to 12 weeks of getting into your running. Keep the initial sessions durations down to 20 minutes or less and don’t add more than 20 minutes in per week to your total volume.

As you are probably fit this will not seem like much however by going slow you will be more likely to succeed in maintaining consistency and this is what will help with the marathon at the end of the Ironman.

Running could fit into your training schedule quite nicely on a Monday, Thursday and Saturday (and/or a Sunday).

Good luck!

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