Free 6-month Ironman training plan that’s simple to use

With bricks, race-pace efforts, open-water swims and the tapering period, this 6-month, easy-to-follow Ironman training plan will take you up to your big Ironman race day in optimum condition

Competitors at Ironman South Africa swimming at sunrise

Training for an Ironman is not something that should ever be taken lightly, but it is, ultimately, achievable. Here’s all the advice you need to complete an Ironman in six months, plus a free training plan to follow to help you achieve the ultimate racing goal in triathlon. Enjoy the journey! 


What distance is an Ironman triathlon?

An Ironman race is a 3.8km swim, 180km bike and 42.2km run. It’s also known as a full Iron or a long-distance triathlon.

Who is an Ironman triathlon suitable for and what level of fitness/ability will you need?

This race distance can take the fastest athletes around 7.5 hours, but most races have a cut-off of 17 hours. The biggest limiting factor is how much time you can dedicate to training.

You must be cautious stepping up to this distance if you have previously struggled with injuries.

What kit will you need and how much will it cost?

You will need a wetsuit, as all iron events are open water, goggles, a road bike, helmet and trainers. Unlike other distances, you may not choose to use a tri-suit, favouring comfort over speed.

Many people ride in cycling kit and change into running gear in the second transition.

Nutrition is critical. Many races will have aid stations with course nutrition, but you can plan to use your own fuel and work out how to carry it or rely on the aid stations.

Top Ironman triathlon tip

You don’t need to do a marathon before your long-course race, as it will usually take a lot of time out of your training. A 70.3/middle-distance event a few weeks before your race is better preparation.

Free 6-month Ironman training plan

This plan is designed to begin after a solid winter of base-training efforts, time trials and bricks. Monday is a rest day but obviously adapt these to your own training schedule.

If you miss a session, don’t panic. My approach is that you can’t get that time back, so don’t go searching for opportunities to claw it back.

If someone is ill or injured and they miss a few days or a week of training then I ask my athletes to simply pick up back in the plan where they should be.

I’ve seen a lot of cases where athletes attempt to include additional sessions into their plan when they’ve recovered to make up for lost time and the risk of actually getting ill again or injured is far greater.

The athlete needs to appreciate that missed sessions are exactly that and move on. This is a difficult thing to come to terms with when their motivation is so great.


Top image credit: Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images/Getty Images