Well firstly, this is about to look veeeery different very soon thanks to me deciding to sign up to a full Ironman..!
It also varies depending on the time of year i.e. if it’s off season, leading up to a race or recovering.
An Ironman is a long distance triathlon consisting of a 2.4 mile/1.9km swim, 112 mile/180km bike and a 13.1 mile/ 21.1km run (half marathon!). In other words, a long ass tough day. There is another discipline which, if not practised in training, can make you or break you, and that is nutrition. If you don’t eat or drink the right stuff or the right amount of that stuff you can say hello to a world of pain/stomach issues and/or goodbye to even finishing the race. Further to that, it is why so many people will tell you it is not just about physical fitness but also your mental state and strength of mind.
Aaaaanyway, yup, that’s what I am doing in July 2020. Hopefully.
I have done two “half” distances aka Ironman 70.3 and I really enjoyed those. I did well enough in the first to qualify for the World Championships in 2019. I will draw from this training period to give you an idea of what my week can look like. Some weeks can be more intense than the others, as I said before, depending on the time of year, but also it will depend on my priorities be it holiday, family, friends, illness etc. Let’s face it, as much as it would appeal, I am not a professional triathlete and triathlon isn’t my entire life. Sometimes I just want to have a big drunken night out with my friends - which, unsurprisingly, isn’t conducive to Ironman training….
At the peak of my training between the two Ironman 70.3’s I was doing almost 4 sessions of each swim, bike and run.
Monday was 3km swim (1km easy, 1km moderate, 1km hard) and a 10-12km run of 1km and 500m intervals. One of my genuinely favourite sessions :)
Tuesday was a Brick. A brick just means two disciplines back to back and that usually consists of a bike then a run. I would normally do a 90 minute mixed interval bike session and a 20 minute easy run. Often I would pick this day to do some upper body and core strength training too.
Wednesday was my loooong run day which could be anywhere from a minimum of 90 minutes to my longest run which was 2 hours. An easy conversational pace (haha easy..!). Here I would practice my nutrition which would normally be gels. Still not 100% sure gels sit right with me so I am still coming up with an alternative.
Thursday was a swim and bike day. Swim would be about 3.3km and a mix of sprints, 100m efforts and pull buoy work (keeping a float between your upper thighs, no kicking, just arms). Bike was usually big gear low cadence work.
Friday was my long endurance swim of 4km. I really enjoyed this session as it would be just me and my pull buoy for 7 lots of 500m steady pace. My form of meditation :). This would be a good day for me to do some general strength and conditioning too.
Saturday was also a favourite - big old bike day outside. At the start of the season it would always be a cake stop (or patisserie) ride. Towards the middle of the season it would be non-stop 90km as it would be in a race (you’d hope!) and another chance to practice my nutrition strategy. I ended up using Clif Bars. In my Ironman I am dreaming of having peanut butter and jam sandwiches. There is only so long I can handle sweet sweet sweet stuff aaaall the time.
I would often also do a 30-45 minute run off this too with some faster cadence intervals.
Sunday - another brick but longer. In Paris we have Longchamp Racecourse not far from us with a hippodrome for just cyclists. It’s a 3.5km loop and perfect for practicing your uber aero fast TT position and good for consistent intervals without being stuck inside on your turbo (indoor trainer where you can hook up your own bike to - in very simple terms). We would drive there so we could pack away our bikes (1hr to 90 minute set) and go running. We would run anywhere from 5km to a 10-12km.
So there you have it. Pretty full on and hard to do either side and in-between work commitments and having a hint of a social life. You get into the routine and, as I tell all my clients, consistency is key. You will see there are no “rest days” but there would often be weeks where you couldn’t fit in all the training and things would taper before and after a race. Plus, as I said, illness, travel, holidays, family etc do often force rest periods anyway.
It certainly isn’t for everyone. I LOVE any and all activity and swim, bike and run in one sport is one of the best. I also built into this. I didn’t just wake up one day and start with that high a volume. There will be plenty of fellow triathletes who don’t do half as much and will do much better too. Mindset, previous experiences (for example rowers make pretty fantastic triathletes!) and genetics play a big part. Quality always beats quantity too.
Maybe I will do another post for a compare and contrast when my Ironman training is in full swing…give me strength…literallly!