Training for an Ironman doesn’t have to be as daunting as it can seem. Everyone can complete an Ironman. This Ironman training plan is designed to help you enjoy the experience!
It is aimed at:
If you want to race it and beat times then read our Ironman Training Plan for Racing (coming soon).
As a rough guide anyone wanting to go faster than about 11-11.5 hours should undertake this more advanced programme.
I know I said everyone can complete an Ironman, but don’t mistake that for meaning it is easy!
Finishing one is 50% mental, 30% nutritional and only 20% training. Our Ironman Training Plan is designed to reflect this requirement, so many sessions are intended to challenge you mentally and get you to practice your nutrition strategy.
Even a Pro who is not ready for the challenge and has poor nutrition is unlikely to be able to finish one, unlike all the other distances in triathlon. This is the challenge and the attraction for so many people.
Your first challenge when training for an Ironman is to ensure you know what is going to be required, and then that you still want to do it.
Some questions to ask yourself:
If you are up for the challenge of training for an Ironman, then keep reading. If the thought of this commitment puts you off, revise your personal challenge!
This Ironman training plan assumes that you have a limited training history. Therefore it will start off steadily, but in order get all the work in, the workload will increase fairly rapidly.
We are also assuming that you can actually swim a bit, ride a bike safely and are not injured at all at the beginning of the programme and that you don’t have any medical conditions that would hamper your training or be negatively affected by training.
Aims of the Ironman Training Plan
If you progress quickly and decide to be more aggressive you will be able to move in into our Ironman Training to Race plan (coming soon).
Also, you can use our triathlon training planner to input your sessions and record your progress.
You can also download an Excel version of this Ironman training plan here.
Below is an overview of the 21 week Ironman Training Plan.
As your aim is to get round and enjoy the event, the majority of the training is about helping you to get the endurance to be able to do this. There are not many short cuts to doing this (whatever other sites/coaches might say). You cannot trick yourself over these kinds of durations.
The key when training for an Ironman is being able to train regularly, as well as rest well when planned, and keep the training intensity down. If you train at high intensities, the time required to recover adequately will compromise the volume of training you need to do to successfully complete an Ironman.
So keep the intensity down!
Everyone likes a little burn up with friends or to push themselves on the hills, but be aware that too much of this will create un-recoverable fatigue and will hamper subsequent sessions and therefore limit your training consistency.
Routine is important to most people, and therefore we provide an idea of what the schedule might look like. However it is not set in stone because you may need to re-work some of it to fit your schedule. As the phases change there might be different sessions but we try to keep the type (i.e. swim, bike etc) on the same days to help with this routine.
We have included two races in the schedule. The times where they are scheduled is the ideal scenario, however you might need to move them slightly to fit your schedule and the race calendar.
Ideally the first race would be an Olympic, and would come at the very beginning of the Prep 1 phase. So you have rested, raced and then got back into your training routine.
The second race comes at the end of Prep 2 and could be a half-Ironman.
We do not normally recommend any running races or cycling events as they are too different to what you will encounter in an Ironman and will inevitably add too much intensity.
However open water swim races are a great way of getting used to being around lots of other swimmers and being in the open water.
Initially the programme focuses upon swim and bike, as being better trained in these will mean less fatigue when starting the run.
Adaptation Phases – Rest Weeks
In these planned weeks off you need to keep a little active but allow yourself to recover.
Everyone is different, and some will take most of the week off completely, others will find that just doing about 25% of what you had been doing will help you to maintain the rhythm of training but allow you to recover.
It is very individual so you need to find the right balance for your training and life. The most important thing is that you recover in this week.
You must start the next block ready to go.
Base/Foundation 1 Phase of Training For An Ironman
Base 2 Phase of Training For An Ironman
Build 1 Phase Of Training For An Ironman
Build 2 Phase of Training For An Ironman
Prep 1 Phase of Ironman Training Plan