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Reach the start line in peak condition, with this six-week Ironman training plan from coaching editor Phil Mosley

Ironman Triathlon Training: The Final Countdown

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Back in December (issue 62) we published an Ironman Winter Foundation training plan – and the six-week plan below follows on from it. Don’t worry if you didn’t catch it though. Providing you’ve spent the last 12 weeks gradually building up your Ironman training, this six-week plan will take you all the way through to race day. Well, almost. Let me explain.

This plan should be started seven weeks before your Ironman, because it doesn’t include the final week of training. The last week involves so many variables, such as travel and the facilities at your destination, that it’s best to be flexible. You may have your own ideas on what to do in the final week anyway.

If not, between Monday and Thursday you could do half of the training you did the previous week. Then in the final days before the race take a couple of days off or just do 15-30mins of light training each day – whatever feels best for you. Forget about what anyone else is doing. You won’t lose fitness – your training is done and banked.

With seven weeks to go, the aim is to cement your confidence and ability to cover long distances at your approximate Ironman pace. If you can’t do it in training, chances are you won’t do it on race day. So set realistic expectations based on what you do in these key sessions. You should also use them as an opportunity to practise race-day nutrition and kit.

Aside from these key long sessions, the remainder of the training is designed to maintain your speed and fitness without leaving you too fatigued. If you need to take more rest, swap the days around. However, the long brick and run sessions will take 48 hours to recover from. It’s important you allow yourself adequate time to recover. If you feel excessively tired, take it easy for a few days.

For simplicity’s sake the swims are given as Main Set only. In addition you should incorporate a warm up of around 1,000m and a warm down of 500m. This should include front crawl, drills, backstroke and kicking. Attending a coached group is nearly always more effective than swimming alone. Please check out the Key and Training Zones sections, so you know what the abbreviations mean and what intensities to train at.

Is this triathlon training plan for you?

Goal: To reach the Ironman start line in peak condition
Timescale: Six weeks
Start Point: Cycle 80 miles / Run 18 miles / Swim 3km
Level: Intermediate to advanced

Training Zones Guide

Zone Description Heart Rate (% max) RPE 1-10 Accumulated Intensity
Z1 Recovery 55-70 less than 2 1-6 hours Easy
Z2 Endurance 70-75 2-3 1-3 hours Steady
Z3 Tempo 75-80 3-4 50-90 mins Comfortable
Z4 Threshold 80-88 4-6 10-60 mins Uncomfortable
Z5 VO2 Max 80-88 more than 7 12-30 mins Hard to very hard

WU Warm up, MAIN Main set, WD Warm down, FC Front crawl, PULL Front crawl with a pull-buoy float between your thighs, KICK Kick with a float held out in front, SECS seconds, Z1 Training Zone 1, Z2 Training Zone 2 Z3 Training Zone 3, Z4 Training Zone 4, Z5 Training Zone 5, DRILL Your preference of swim technique drill, BUILD Do each rep slightly faster than the previous, BACK Backstroke, BREAST Breaststroke

Download the Ironman Final Countdown Training Plan