Athletes with short course heads

One of the biggest things I see with self coached athletes that are racing 70.3 and Ironman is a nu,ber of them have a short course head.  What I mean by this is athletes who want to race long but keep all their training short.

With these athletes, I find it hard to change the way they think.  They want to race sprint distance races in the twelve week lead up to an Ironman or they want their weekly long rides to be around two to three hours or their long runs to be 60-90 minutes.


These are just some of the examples I see everyday. My thought pattern for an athlete who is racing Ironman is based around this.
  • You need a weekly long swim that is 4km or more.
  • You need a weekly long ride.  I’m old school when it comes to this so more is more with this session.
  • You need a weekly long run.  Depending on a few things, slowly building this between two hours and three hours every week.
  • You need a weekly brick sessions.
These are just the basics of a standard Ironman training program.  It is simple, If you are going to race long, you need to train long.
What you should forget about in the lead up to an Ironman:
  • Sprint triathlons – I see very little value in doing sprint triathlons in the 12 weeks lead up to an Ironman for most triathletes.  There are some exceptions like everything however for nearly everyone, this is a waste of time.  That time is best spent on something that will help you achieve your Ironman goals.
  • Filling each week with  nothing but short training sessions – This is the biggest problem when I see athletes only running 5km runs throughout the week, doing 25-30km rides, 1-2km swim and come a month out of the Ironman panic and then go long.  Yes we do more sessions under an hour than over an hour but that session is there for a reason.  Just clocking up short miles will not help you in the last 20km of the marathon.
  • Wanting to do a lot of their rides in groups.  This is good if you are on your TT bike and you are achieving your goals within the program however more times than not, I see these athletes on their road bikes just clocking up miles.  Yes it may be faster, it may be easier but you are using a different energy system.  Train how you will race.
  • Taking too many days off – A lot of the times, you really don’t need too many rest days.  Give your legs a rest often is good but you can still be in the pool doing some pull and paddle work or some core strength or an easy spin on the bike can be far better for you than a full day off (especially for male athletes with the easy spin on the bike).
Below is a generic example.  There are many ways to construct this method but this should give you a starting point.
Keep these three things in mind.
  1. Get the volume in
  2. Through the volume, you get your recovery in
  3. When you have the first two right, you can add intensity
Swim – 4km
aerobic (more is more with this session)
Core –
Bike –
60-90min with some TT efforts & a 20-40min brick run off the bike
Swim – strength
set using pull and paddles (under an hour)
Bike –
1-2 hours ride
Run –
Hill repeats
Core –
Bike –
1-2 hours ride
Swim –
Speed set (under an hour)
Swim – strength
set using pull and paddles (under an hour)
Run –
Core –
Bike – 4-6
hours (more is more with this session)
Long Run –
2-3 hours but cap it around 20 miles
swim/open water swim
Tim Egge

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