Free 12-week Ironman training plan
Entered an Ironman and feeling ill-equipped with just three months to go? Here's a 12-week Ironman training plan that will help
If you’ve decided that this year is the year you’re going to challenge yourself to an Ironman, the good news is that, with three months to go, we can get you there!
Our only conditions? This isn’t a race distance you can decide to do on a whim – there’s a reason Ironman has a reputation for being tough. We’d strongly advise that you have up to two years’ experience of triathlon racing – or at least be an experienced and capable swimmer, cyclist and runner able to comfortably complete a 2km swim, 40km cycle and a 12-14km run as you start this plan. That will give you the base you need to progress. Ideally, you’ll have raced a triathlon up to a minimum of Olympic distance. Also, there are no strength training sessions included in this plan, but we’d strongly advise that you add basic core strength exercises to your regime. There’s a great set here, written for us by Ironman legend and 220 coach Dave Scott, which are a good place to start.
This is a full-on training plan for 12 weeks and ideally no sessions will be missed. But if you do miss any then don’t attempt to start doubling up on training days, as this may cause excessive fatigue or injury. Just accept that you’ve missed a session and simply carry on with the following day’s training. Where possible it can be a great advantage to have others to train with too, especially on the longer sessions. Just make sure that they’re helping you train, rather than forcing you out of your programme. You must stick to what’s best for you at all times when preparing for Ironman.
Finally, Ironman training is a major time commitment so, before you throw yourself headfirst into this plan, consider your lifestyle – will this fit around your family and work without getting you divorced or sacked?! But it is possible with a busy lifestyle, and the best age-groupers ensure every minute of the day is accounted for. For example the commute is great for squeezing in a bike or run!
FOUR IRONMAN PREP TIPS
Adapt your training to simulate the race. Is it a river, lake or sea swim? Is the bike course hilly, flat and/or windy? Is the run on road or trail? Train for these conditions.
Use the equipment and nutrition that you plan to use on race day, especially on the longest sessions. If you’re going to use tri-bars then make sure you’re comfortable.
PLAN TO WALK
During your longest runs, practise adding periods of walking that simulate you walking through aid stations. Use this time to refuel. It’s okay to walk during Ironman!
RECCE THE COURSE
Aim to get to your race a couple of days before the event and spend time practising on the course. Having course knowledge can help you to structure an effective plan.