Can you race Olympic and Ironman-distance triathlons in the same season?

Can't decide between racing Ironman or Olympic-distance triathlons? And wondering if you can combine the two and still have a successful season at both? Dermott Hayes has this advice

Is it possible to have both a successful short-course and long-course season in the same year?

The short and blunt answer is no! The physiological demands of short- and long-course racing are extremely different, and to achieve optimal performances in both is near impossible in the same season. E.g. a sprint may take 1.5hrs while the iron distance might take 15hrs.


A successful short-course season is full of training that targets the anaerobic thresholds where efforts can be held for minutes and can be very uncomfortable. Whereas the long-course athlete must train in a manner that boosts their aerobic systems and fat utilisation stores, so is moderately intensive.

Not only this, but the nutritional requirements for the two styles of racing are vastly different, the pacing strategies are poles apart, the bike set-up may need to change and while the long-course athlete has that one big target, the short-course season can include between 6-10 races.


If attempting to include both, the advice would be to prioritise the more important race, and use any other events as training. But remember, you can’t turn up and wing it at an Ironman – you’ll quickly get found out!