Coach Faris Al Sultan

The 2005 Ironman World Champion Faris Al Sultan and now coach for the German Federation, past coach for two time Ironman world champion Patrick Lange.

Here are some of Faris’s coaching philosophies with a focus at more Ironman.

How to win an Ironman

Faris’s quick guide on what it takes to win at Ironman, you need to be within the range of what he calls “The Big Four.” If you are able to swim a minute and a 4th of a minute (1:15 per 100m), can cycle 4 watts per kg and run a 4min kilometer, you put yourself in a position to win the Ironman race.

Training Volume & Quality of Movement:

When it comes to Ironman training, there are two key factors that are just as important as each other. Volume and the quality of movement. There is no point increasing training volume unless the athlete has good quality of movement. Even if you cut back the volume to focus on the quality of movement then increase volume.

For the majority of world class athletes Faris coaches, a yearly volume of 1000 to 1200 hours is required.

Training for an Ironman

The athlete maintains a solid amount of volume with no tapers throughout the year. Once the athlete reaches 6-5 weeks out from Ironman, there is a bigger block of training and the athletes starts to taper from two weeks out from their key race.

To get faster at Ironman

With an endurance sport like Ironman, volume is very important, it also needs to be managed correctly. You can’t take an athlete who has an annual training volume of 800 hours and suddenly increase it to 1200 hours because this is where they need to be competitive. It takes time

Speed Training

Throughout the season, there is an effort for the athlete to focus on maintaining their natural speed they use to have at a younger age. This includes a lot of short faster efforts at the track.

Strength Training

Feris is big on athletes lifting weights with squats and deadlifts are two key aspects he gets his athletes to do within their programs. Weight training is done throughout the year.

Mental Focus

While a good training session may help a athlete 1% of 1%, focusing of the athlete’s brain could all of a sudden have a percent improvement within one key session.

Jordan Rapp’s Ironman Nutrition Plan

Optygen HP, Multi Vitamin, Ultragen & Banana smoothie with So Good Coconut Milk. Two Koala Crisp cereal bars with table spoon coconut oil and 1/2 bar of dark chocolate. Two laughing giraffe coconut macaroons. Calories about 1,500.

  • I have pre-determined that I need A LOT of salt. The amount of salt I consume is not recommended for all.

One serving EFS LL or Fruit Punch + 2 salt stick caps + 1 scoop Pre Race

On bike at start of race:

  • 1x 26oz bottle with 3 scoops of EFS fruit punch with 3x salt stick (~300cal)
  • 1x 20oz specialized virtue aero bottle with 2 scoops of EFS lemon lime with 1x EFS liquid shot berry (~600cal)
  • 4x gel pack taped onto frame. I’d prefer EFS LS, but I use GU Roctane until you can make some single serve gels.
    At Special Needs: I don’t always count on this and adjust my plan accordingly.
  • 1x 22oz bottle with 2 scoops of EFS and 2x salt stick at special needs

On Course/Aid Stations

  • 6x salt stick caps (2x/hr starting at hr #2)
  • 4 (maybe one more; maybe one less; I forgot) Powerbar Ironman Perform
  • 4 x 1/3 bottle water (maybe less actually drank. Mostly just to rinse the mouth out and wash off my hands and keep cool)
    Calories about 1,800 to 1,900

I leave the run with one EFS LS flask which I carry in my hand. I plan to sip on this and follow up with water at aid stations. I also carry salt-sticks and use as needed. If the race gets really hot, I tend not to want anything thicker than water. If this is the case, I have the confidence that my on-bike nutrition will help me get through the run with minimal issues. I will consume the on-course drink and on-course coke and water until the finish.

Alistair Brownlee’s 2012 Training Program

Alistair Brownlee who trained approximately 35 hours per week in the lead up to the 2012 London Olympics where he won gold. Below is Alistair’s training program he was completing in February 2012 (5 months out from the Olympics)

Alistair’s Training Week

  • Monday: Run 80min steady + Drills S&C + Swim (easy) + Bike 2hr easy
  • Tuesday: Swim (hard) + Run 40min (easy) + Bike 1hr (easy) + Brick run (15min hard done at the track)
  • Wednesday: Swim (aerobic) + Run 75min (easy) + Bike 3.5hr
  • Thursday: Swim (strength) + Run 1hr + 2hrs with 20min threshold
  • Friday: Swim (mixed pace) + S&C + Run 1hr (easy) + Bike 1hr (easy)
  • Saturday: Run 30min (hard) + Bike 3.5hr (easy) + Brun 30min (easy)
  • Sunday: Bike 4hrs (easy) + Run 1:40hr (easy)

While 35 hours training per weeks for an Olympic Distance athlete seems high, it is around average for a top would class athlete at this level. Other athletes like Javier Gomez who trains approximately 30 hours per week and Jan Frodeno who in 2008 was training 35 hours per week. These athletes do a lot of short sharp sessions with recovery time between each session.

Lance Armstrong’s 2008 Strength Program

In 2008 when Lance announced he was making a comeback to professional cycling, Lance hired strength and conditioning coach Peter Park to help prep his body for the demands of training for the 2009 Tour de France. The goal was to focus on core strength, build leg power and work on a few imbalances Lance had developed since he retired in 2005.

“If you’re a cyclist, you need to have the upper body of a 12 year old girl and the lower body of a power lifter” coach Park said

Lance’s strength program looked like:

Warm up:
Perform one set of each exercise without resting

Lateral Band Walk
20x 20sec Plank
6x per side Iliotibial Band Roll
8x per side Groiner
3x Hand Crossover
10x each side Lunges
5x Lunge with Side Bend
10x each side Elbow-to-Foot Lunge
2x Sumo Squat to Stand
3x Kettlebell Goblet Squat
1x Doorway Stretch

Core Circuit
Perform one set of each exercise without resting
Side Planks (30 seconds per side)
3x Back Extensions
30x per side Swiss-Ball Roll
20x per side Swiss-Ball Pike
30x Mountain Climber with Feet on Valslides
25x Wrist-to-Knee Crunches
6x Plank

Strength Circuit One
Perform one set of each exercise without resting
5x each leg Pistol Squat
8x each side Single-Leg Deadlift

Strength Circuit Two
Perform one set of each exercise without resting.
12x Single-Leg Squat
10x each side Lunge

Metabolic Circuit
If Lance is exhausted, he stopped here. But if he still had energy, he performed this final circuit up to three times, depending on how good he felt. Perform one set of each exercise without resting.

25x Single Arm Dumbbell Swing
15x High Box Jump
25x Single Arm Dumbbell Swing
12x each side Split Jacks
25x Single Arm Dumbbell Swing

Pete Jacob’s 2012 Ironman Program

“I didn’t do anything special to win Kona, I just did what I needed to”

In 2008, Pete Jacobs created with his than coach Allan Pitman a plan to win the Ironman World Champions within five years.

Pete’s results at Kona looked like:

  • 2008 – Finished 60th
  • 2009 – Finished 8th
  • 2010 – Finished 9th
  • 2011 – Finished 2nd
  • 2012 – Finished 1st

While Pete isn’t a high volume athlete, he is very much focused on good technique and staying in tune with his body and isn’t afraid to take a rest day or turn a hard session into an easy session. After the 2011 Ironman World Championships, Chris McCormack asked Pete what he will change for the coming year. Pete replied he doesn’t need to change anything, he simply needs to improve by 1%”.

For the lead up to the 2012 Ironman World Championship, Pete’s weekly training didn’t really change that much, he would add more run volume if he was feeling good. Each week looked like:

  • Monday: Run 20km + Swim 4km with 1k warm up, 7x 400 leaving on 5:30
  • Tuesday: Swim 2.5km easy + Plates
  • Wednesday: Bike 4hrs + Swim 3km with 1km TT + Run 45min easy
  • Thursday: Run with 4x 1km intervals + Run 1:15hr
  • Friday: Bike 5hrs
  • Saturday: Run with 2x 3km intervals
  • Sunday: Bike 5hrs + Swim with 5x 400 leaving 5min

What does Pete’s training look like now?

Pete’s training is very much aerobic base training with all his bike and runs done at MAF heart rate. His average training week looked like:

  • Monday: Light gym session
  • Tuesday: Run 15-20km + Swim or recovery ride + Strength session
  • Wednesday: Bike 2-3hrs + Swim 4km
  • Thursday: Run 15-20km + Bike 2hrs
  • Friday: Easy ride/swim/run/gym
  • Saturday: Bike 3hrs + Swim 2km
  • Sunday: Run 25-30km + Ocean swim 2km

Peter Reid’s Ironman Training & Diet

The evolution of the greatest Ironman athletes to have ever raced looks something like Dave Scott then Mark Allen then Peter Reid before we move to Craig Alexander and now Jan Frodeno. Whenever the topic on who is the GOAT of Ironman, Peter Reid’s name is in the conversation. Here is some information on the three time Ironman World Champion / Ten time Ironman champion.

Weekly training volume in the lead up to Kona:

Peter was a high volume athlete. In the lead up to Ironman Hawaii, he would average between 5-10 hours per day, six days per week. Peter truly believed that dedication combined with sacrifice can trump superior talent. Peter’s life when racing at the top level became so unbalanced because everything was based around performing on race day.

Psycho Weekends:

From nine weeks out through to three weeks out of Kona, Peter would overload his weekends with what he called “psycho weekends” His weekends looked like this for the six weeks in a row.

Saturday: Swim 1hr, Bike 7hrs, Brick Run 1hr, late afternoon Gym Session for 45-50 minutes.

Sunday: Early morning, wake up, have a cup of coffee and go for long run (20+ miles), midday a recovery ride and late afternoon a second run.


Peter becomes very strict with his diet from 8 weeks out from key races. He would go to the shop everyday and only purchase enough food for that day. Peter would say “When I was preparing for Kona I would not keep any food in the house. It was too easy to put on weight, and you have to be lean for the marathon. I’d be so hungry. I’d go to sleep with a headache.” He knew if he raced under 165 pounds (74.8kg) he could run under 2:40 for the marathon (2:48 for Kona), if he was over 170 ponds, he couldn’t run under 2:50. It is worth noting that Peter’s fastest marathon was during Ironman Australia with a time of 2:35.

How much do pro triathletes earn

Ever wonder what top level pro triathletes earn from sponsorship?

Former pro triathlete Dirk Bockel who retired in 2017 was one of the worlds best ITU and Ironman triathletes with a personal best Iron distance time of 7:52 in 2013 at Challenge Roth.

Dirk had a number of sponsorship packages, Here are Dirk’s two main packages he would offer in 2015. It is also worth noting that a pro triathlete’s sponsorship commitments have changed in current times. Also these packages offered do no cover performance bonus.


Cost: $35,000 – $45,000 annually

  • Prominent logo on Dirk’s race kit, training gear and podium shirt
  • Logo on Dirk’s website
  • Regular Facebook and Twitter post promoting your product (weekly)
  • Photo shoot or commercial at location of partner choice Image rights for the duration of the contract
  • Appearance at event (full day) – working around Dirk’s racing schedule
  • Motivational speaking opportunity (sales)
  • Where applicable: Regular product development feedback from Dirk
  • Additional Partner Activation based on specific initiatives and discussed on individual basis


Price: $15,000 – $30,000 annually

  • Logo on Dirk’s website
  • Regular Facebook and Twitter post promoting your product (minimum of III. twice per month)
  • Photo shoot or commercial to be arranged at a location where Dirk is training or racing
  • Image rights for the duration of the contract
  • Appearance at event (4 hours) – working around Dirk’s racing schedule
  • Motivational speaking opportunity (sales)
  • Where applicable: Regular product development feedback from Dirk
  • Tattoo of your logo on Dirk’s arm for races (one sponsor)
  • Additional Partner Activation based on specific initiatives and discussed on individual basis

Other Services Offered

  • Product endorsements
  • Marketing & PR Campaigns
  • Motivational speaking
  • VIP appearances and hospitality Consulting:
  • Race Organization & Planning
  • Sports Marketing
  • Athlete Management & season planning
  • Athlete Coaching

Ian Thorpe Development

At 14 years old, Ian Thorpe became the youngest male eve to represent Australia. Ian won the 400 meter freestyle race at the 1998 World Championships making him the youngest individual world champion.

Ian went on to win five gold medals, three silvers and one bronze at the Olympics.

The development system Ian went through with his coach Doug Frost looked like:

Swim volume per week / per year

  • 9 Years old: one session per week with a total of 2-3km per week
  • 10 Years old: 3 sessions per week with a total of 6-8km per week
  • 11 Years old: 3 sessions per week with a total of 7-9km per week
  • 12 Years old: 5 sessions per week with a total of 20-25km per week
  • 13 Years old: 6 sessions per week with a total of 40-50km per week
  • 14 Years old: 8 sessions per week with a total of 40-70km per week
  • 15 Years old: 10 sessions per week with a total of 50-80km per week
  • 16 years old: 10 sessions per week with a total of 50-90km per week

Ian’s swim times per age

  • 9 years old: 50m on 0:33:11 – 100m on 1:12:45
  • 10 years old: 50m on 0:31:59 – 100m on 1:09:92 – 200m on 2:48:00
  • 11 years old: 50m on 0:29:69 – 100m on 1:06:22 – 200m on 2:22:75
  • 12 years old: 50m on 0:27:46 – 100m on 0:58:81 – 200m on 2:04:60
  • 13 years old: 50m on 0:25:75 – 100m on 0:55:83 – 200m on 1:58:50
  • 14 years old: 50m on 0:24:78 – 100m on 0:52:49 – 200m on 1:50:07 – 400m on 3:49:60
  • 15 years old: 100m on 0:52:49 – 200mon 1:46:70 – 400m on 3:44:35
  • 16 years old: 100m on 0:49:71 – 200m on 1:46 – 400m on 3:41:83

Dryland Training

While Ian did do dry land training throughout these years, it really wasn’t till he switched coached in 2002 to coach Tracey Menzies that there was more of a focus on dryland strength training.

Faris Al-Sultan Kona Program

The 2005 Ironman World Champion Faris Al-Sultan shared with us how he prepared for the Ironman in Kona.

“I usually did a three week training block in the US to prepare for Kona ( before a two week taper the first being at the location I did the block at, the second obviously in Kona) and it followed the “San Diego” scheme introduced to me by Jürgen Zäck.

The key elements were a long ride Wednesday, a long and hard ride Saturday and a long run Sunday.
The other sessions varied a bit throughout the years also dependant on availability of training partners and swimming times and facilities.

I didn’t do any tests in that period besides a 5000m swim test, my PB in a 25m pool was a 1:01:27 and I knew if I’m below 1:02:30 I’d be fine.

Of course different types of tests were conducted throughout the year, ranging from classic labtests to field tests.

I was and still am a big believer in classic gym work, I do it differently now with my athletes than I did back in the day though.”

Faris’s Training Week in the lead up to Kona

Monday: Rest


AM: Ride 1 hour + track run session + 2hour ride
PM: Gym + 4km swim


long ride 6 hrs + 30min run


Swim 4,5km


AM: Ride 3hrs with Intervals + 45-60min run
PM: Gym + Swim 3.5km


AM: 5-6h ride + 30-50min run

PM: Swim 3.5km


AM: Swim 5km
PM: long run 30-35km

To visit Faris Al-Sultan’s website – Click Here

Coach Darren Smith

Darren Smith is one of the world best Olympic Distance triathlon coaches. In 2012 he made history having six triathletes from six different countries make the London Olympics.

Training Cycle

Darren often runs a eight day training cycle. Developing a good routine the athlete knows works is developed three or four years prior to the athlete peaking for the Olympics.

  • Day one: Speed Day
  • Day Two: Strength Day
  • Day Three: Aerobic Day
  • Day Four: Active Recovery
  • Day Five: Speed Day
  • Day Six: Aerobic Day
  • Day Seven: Speed Day
  • Day Eight: Active Recovery

Strength Training

Darren uses a combination of gym, body weight exercises, over gearing on the bike, pool paddles and hills for strength work on athletes.

When in the gym, a focus on multi muscles and multi joint exercises with some sports specific exercises. He notes that many of his athletes don’t need the gym to go fast, they simply need to go fast however he questions their long jeopardy in the sport without gym work.

Two examples of strength sessions from Darren:

Strength Session One:

  • Kneeling push up on keiser
  • Mini ban walks
  • TRX row
  • TRX plank series with lower body drives
  • Wall angels
  • Shoulder stability planks series
  • Battling rope conditioning

Strength Session Two:

  • Running man
  • Clams with band
  • Single leg bridge
  • Side plank with rotation
  • Swiss ball
  • Side plank runner
  • Feet up clam

Balance & Proprioception

One thing Darren gets his athletes to do is before and after a hard run, stand on one foot for 60sec each leg to help improve balance.

He also has a focus on balance and movements with both eyes open and eyes shut.

Darren also likes his athletes doing their long runs on trails so the athlete’s foot/body movements changes often within the trails.

Key Performance Inhibitor

Not the normal KPIs the rest of the world is familiar with, Darren believes that most programs have inhibitors within them. Finding and working on removing any inhibitors that is holding the athlete back from performing at their potential is critical within his program. If it isn’t helping, it is gone.

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