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Ironman training – some plan considerations

I recently started working with a triathlete helping him to prepare for the Ironman UK event in Bolton in August. He’s not a full time athlete, so is limited to 5 and sometimes 6 training sessions per week, most of which have to happen during weekday evenings and so generally need to be shorter than 1 hour. He has a history of calf injury and has previously completed a half Ironman event so has a decent training background. He has a target time of 11hrs 30mins.

The traditional training approach taken by those training for Ironman events is very distance focused with miles per week being a common currency. While I will obviously keep an eye on the volumes, training load will more important for me and I’m keen to track the monotony and strain closely to see what value is attached to these numbers.

I have seen a fairly large number of injured and non injured triathletes in my gait analysis work and so I am very much aware of the common issues associated with the sport. As such, this adds to my considerations in the planning and suffice to say, flexibility is playing a big part in the plan.

When I sat down to start designing the training plan, my first thought was that a week is too short, it was going to be tough to cover all the areas I wanted the athlete to cover, and that they wanted to cover, in 5 sessions. So I chose to look at 2 week microcycles instead, all of a sudden, 10 training session looked much more friendly to me in my planning. The athlete is able to complete sessions covering all 3 disciplines like they wanted and I am able to get some of the perceived ‘extras’ in like the strength and flexibility  to, hopefully, keep him training injury free in the 8 months to the event.

Neil Welch

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