If you dream of going longer, Brighton head coach and ZigZag Alive founder Mike Porteous is here to pass on his expert advice.

pep talk

Many of our members who did their first ever triathlon last year moved up a distance this year, so it has
been a big topic of conversation at Brighton. Many of my clients also come looking to reach new distances, including Ironman.

Using my guiding principles of rhythm, regularity and recovery, here are my tips to help you step up.

1) Ensure it excites you

Stepping up certainly involves special challenges, but so does getting faster at your current distance, working on improving your weaker discipline or trying new variants such as off road triathlons or adventure races.

Firstly, it’s worth asking yourself if these other challenges would excite and motivate you more than going longer.

2) Check with your support team

An obvious but easily neglected step is to talk through your plans to go longer with those closest to you. Even a step up from sprint to Olympic distance will involve an increase in time out training.

For example, you may be going from two swims, bikes and runs a week up to three, leaving you more tired and more absorbed, so it’s common sense to check with those likely to be affected.

3) Single out your mountain tops

Taking on longer distances than you’ve done before requires a more focused, prioritised approach. If you did several sprint distances in your first year, for this coming year select just one or two Olympic distance events and plan out your training to peak for them.

I like to have an early summer peak around June or July, come down off the mountain top (your peak) and then build up for another peak toward the end of the season in September.

4 Regularity rules

Many people stepping up to Ironman mistakenly think they must replicate that distance somewhere in their training schedule. For example, running a marathon race to prove to themselves that they can go that far.

This risks taking a lot out of your body at a time when all the focus needs to be on gradually building up for the big event. At the high point of a phased iron distance training programme, I recommend making your longest bikes or runs no more than 80 percent of the time you are likely to be doing that discipline on race day.

5) Coming back down

Once the event is behind you, I recommend continuing a few weeks of very light training, keeping things mobile and enjoying the post-race glow.

It’s after this that you should take several weeks complete break. Before long you’ll be getting hungry for your next challenge.

Guiding principles


Aim for the new level of training to become part of the natural rhythm of each day and week, in tune with your other commitments.

Be realistic about a level of training you can sustain.


It’s the cumulative effect of consistent, regular training that gets you to the start line in the best condition of your life.


Lots of athletes get injured or demotivated either in the build up or, even more common, after their big challenge. Planning your rests is vital to reduce the chance of injury or getting demotivated.

Get more tips from out Training Section.