12-week Ironman peak-phase training plan

Smash out this final three-month block of training to ensure Ironman race-day success with this Ironman peak-phase training plan

Credit: BMC-Vifit-TriTeam / JamesMitchell

Ironman race day is getting closer, the accommodation is booked, you’ve chosen your race kit, now all you need to do is complete the peak phase of training and you’re ready. Easy right? 

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At this stage of your iron-distance prep, you’ll have covered off the Ironman Base  and the Build phase and should have already banked heaps of miles. You should also be able to estimate your race-day targets, which will help when it comes to pacing the vital, ‘big’ training sessions.

As a rough guide, you should already be swimming 3km in a session, have completed a couple of 120km rides and run a half marathon. The last phase of iron-distance race prep is about ticking boxes, covering key distances for confidence and using them to discover race pace, and the inclusion of sessions to stress your lactate threshold so that you don’t become a one-pace plodder.

A key ‘session’ is to actually go out and train at race pace, so we’ve included a half-iron-distance race in week six. This is a great time to test yourself, and allow time for recovery before building up to the final major sessions. If possible, try to choose a test race that simulates the kind of course you’ll tackle on full-iron-distance race day.

We’ve included open-water swim practice, so as long as the water temperatures are okay get the wetsuit on and go for it.

Looking to just complete? It’s important that you still aim to cover the distances in the big long workouts – you must have that confidence to go into race day. Consider taking an occasional rest day if the training volume is causing major fatigue – you don’t have to include as much of the interval training, where you’re working faster than your estimated race pace.

Aiming to compete? The long-distance sessions in this 3-month Ironman peak phase training plan are enough to ensure you’ve got miles in your legs. But you can increase the duration of the interval workouts, in particular the bikes by adding further reps in the main set. You can also increase the suggested speeds in the intervals, working in excess of race pace.

Ironman racing is not a sport where you can cut corners, so a well-executed plan is a must. Commit to this last phase of the build-up and race well!

Dermott’s top 3 Ironman training tips

1. Practise the run/walk for the marathon. Expect to walk at some stage in the race so build it into training and it won’t be a shock.

2. Use your race equipment in the peak phase so you know how everything feels and works. No surprises on race day.

3. Learn how to fix a puncture. Don’t let a flat ruin your day.

4. Know your numbers. Be very clear as to what pace/power/heart rate you’re aiming for in each stage.

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Top image: BMC-Vifit-TriTeam/JamesMitchell