12 weeks Ironman Triathlon base phase

Average Weekly Training Hours 13:11
Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Training Hours 13:11
Training Load By Week

This base training Ironman triathlon plan will provide you with the foundations of the aerobic training period, which is characterised by increasing volume, performed at relatively low intensities. This phase has a strong emphasis on general conditioning, and physical, mental and technical skills such as working on your swim technique, improving your cycling efficiency, or working on running cadence or technique

Reasons for base aerobic training over the winter months

We're going to be going over the physiological adaptations from training aerobically in zones 1 in this article:

Zone 1 Improvements:

Lung capacity and breathing frequency
Stroke volume of heart increases
Cardiac output increases
Heart size increases
Plasma volume expands
Blood flow distribution (shunting)
Heart rate decreases (average)
Inspiratory muscle oxygen cost reduced
Systolic blood pressure reduced
Capillary density increased
Fuel use (favours fat metabolism)
Mitochondrial size and number
Muscle fibre type shifts to type 1
Increase in muscle fibre cross sectional area. Plasma free fatty acid use increases as duration increases

Are you working on all of these areas in your base training period? If not then you could well do with a coach

What are the benefits of training in zone 2 to build your aerobic engine and base fitness?

Zone 2 heart rate power or pace is the intensity that builds aerobic endurance. Go higher than zone 2 and you start to develop anaerobic endurance systems . Go lower than this and you are not working hard enough to challenge the aerobic systems

By the end of the base period you should swim bike and run faster than you did at the start of the base period.

Mark Allen (6x hawaii ironman world champs winner) used a hr as the upper limit of 155 bpm of his running intensity - that's his zone 2! When he first started he was running an 8:15 per mile pace (5:09/ km).

Within a year he was running 5:20 per min mile (3:20 per km) wow! at the same heart rate. He had become 35 per cent faster without working any harder.

Level 3 British Triathlon Coach
Training Bible Master Endurance Coach
Training Peaks Level 1 Coach
Level 3 Personal Trainer
TRX Instructor

Sample Day 1
0:30:00
Base building

On soft but firm surface, heart rate in zone 1 only. Pretty form and quick cadence.

Sample Day 1
1:00:00
AA, 3-4 sets

After warm up do 3-4 sets of AA. Cool down with 5-10 minutes of spinning in easy gear/resistance at high rpm. For details go to START (above), WORKOUT DESCRIPTIONS or TRAINING, PRINTABLE VIEW OF WORKOUTS or see Joe Friel''s Training Bible book.

Sample Day 2
1:00:00
Trainer or road--Spin-ups

Spin-ups. Slowly spin-up to max rpm over 30 seconds. When you begin to bounce, back off and then hold it for several seconds. Recover completely and repeat several times. Stay RELAXED!

Sample Day 2
1:00:00
100m swim drills

Warm up 400m with every 4th length as back crawl. MS: 100m of each drill below with 30 secs recovery. 100m easy FC in between drills glide sculling under elbows 4x25m 10 rest fists alternating fists O ring reaching over a barrel CD: 200m mixed strokes as 50m each of BC /BR /FC /kick

Sample Day 3
1:10:00
Base building

On soft but firm surface, heart rate in zone 1 only. Pretty form and quick cadence.

Sample Day 3
0:40:00
AA, 3-4 sets

After warm up do 3-4 sets of AA. Cool down with 5-10 minutes of spinning in easy gear/resistance at high rpm. For details go to START (above), WORKOUT DESCRIPTIONS or TRAINING, PRINTABLE VIEW OF WORKOUTS or see Joe Friel's Training Bible book.

Sample Day 4
1:40:00
Moderate effort, seated

Ride on rolling course. Big chain ring. Most of ride time in heart rate zone2-3. Seated on most hills.

Nick de Meyer
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Sound Coaching

Nick has been a Level 3 British Triathlon Coach for 10 years, and has been a master endurance coach with Training Bible Coaching UK in that time. He is also a Training Peaks Level 1 Coach, and was formerly a Regional Development Coach for the South East region for British Triathlon.

Alongside his online coaching business, Nick also runs Speedy Swimming which specialise in 1-2-1 front crawl technique lessons, endless pool swim video analysis, swim clinics and group swim sessions