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Full Distance Triathlon Specific Prep - 12 wks (11-14 hrs per wk)


Gordo Byrn

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12 Weeks

Plan Specs

triathlon ironman beginner intermediate advanced

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Plan Description

This plan assumes that you have completed one of my Base modules and have established your endurance.

The best way to incorporate this plan into your season is to complete one of my 15 week base modules that ends with a Half Distance race. Then... take 2-3 weeks of lighter training to recover from the race and prepare for the Specific Preparation block.

If you are racing a late season event then I recommend you phase your year as either: Base/Base/Fulld Distance Specific Prep; or Base/Half Distance Specific Prep/Full Distance Specific Prep.

Remember it is a LONG day for everyone. You will see that the key workouts of this block are designed to build your endurance and help teach you what it takes to run well and finish strong.

The core load varies between 11 and 14 hours per week. Rather than dropping weekly volume way down in recovery weeks, I have built in mini-recovery-blocks of 3-5 days duration.

Strength training is not emphasized but I have placed one strength session per week into the plan. This session falls on Wednesday. Within my own training I would use two session per week until the until the final two weeks of the plan. If you want to place a second strength session then the combo that fits best is Wednesday/Sunday.

The swimming program is focused on distance freestyle improvement with main set distance capped around 3200 meters (3500 yards). Where appropriate, I have explained how to dial the program up, or down.

I hope you enjoy,



Average Weekly Breakdown

Workouts Weekly Average Longest Workout
2:33 hrs 1:30 hrs
2:43 hrs 2:15 hrs
6:07 hrs 6:00 hrs
0:27 hrs 0:30 hrs
0:10 hrs 1:00 hrs
Workouts Per Week Weekly Average Longest Workout
2:33 hrs 1:30 hrs
2:43 hrs 2:15 hrs
6:07 hrs 6:00 hrs
0:27 hrs 0:30 hrs
0:10 hrs 1:00 hrs

Training Load By Week

Sample Day 1

PC 500s

400 Easy on 15s rest
4x100 Descend on 15s rest
4x50 Descend on 10s rest
4x500 on 15s rest
Goal is to Descend to Max Effort (most get there too quickly!)
Start at an Easy relaxed pace
Each 500 should be quicker than the one before it. Even for the last one... your best result will come from not starting at max -- most people can't swim "max" for a full 500 at the end of the set. So you should probably think about 2000 worth of swimming that is gradually getting quicker with 15 seconds of rest at each 500.
If you are successful with swimming each one quicker then #2 is a good estimate of your Steady pace (i.e. 2nd gear = steady)
Optional Additional Main Set
200 Easy; 4x200 Steady on 15s rest
Cool Down

Sample Day 2

Poker Pacing Run

Based on duration, split the run into thirds:
***Easy effort for first third
***Steady effort second third
***Hold your Steady pace in final third, effort may increase a bit
Always start at an effort that leaves you room to finish strong.
This is an endurance session, keep the effort comfortably aerobic at all times.
Practicing Run:Walk Technique is highly recommended.
Early season, and if you find that you have to raise HR by more than 5% to hold Steady pace, it is best to dial down the middle pace so you don't have to "race" at the end of the workout. In ALL cases never enter your Threshold zone.
Most runners are tempted to crank the speed up at the back end. FAR more effective is to lift your pace earlier in the workout and test your ability to hold Steady pace without material decoupling. Learn to control yourself emotionally as it will serve you well on race day.

Sample Day 3

Strength Training, Maintenance

Please refer to Strength Training for Triathlon in the Strength section of the Endurance Corner Libarary ( and periodize your season according to the guidelines. You are now in the final phase of your Specific Preparation block. You don't want to generate any material fatgigue in the gym. However, by using the maintenance tips that you'll find on my site, you will be able to hold on to much of your strength.

Sample Day 4

Big Gear Bike (5x8min)

Warm Up with 10 minutes Easy cycling
(10x) Alternate 30s Fast with 30s Easy
10 minutes Steady
5 minutes Easy
(5x) 8 min Big Gear (65 to 75 rpm), Mod-hard effort on 2 min Recovery
5 min Easy

Sample Day 4

Steady Transition Run

Run off the bike for 30 minutes with Steady effort– insert 1 minute walking into each 10 minute block, end with 6x75 meter Strides on 30s walking recovery

Sample Day 5

PC 400s

This is a very challenging swim. Make sure that your “Easy” is easy.
200 Easy on 20s rest
3x100 Descend on 15s rest
4x50 Descend on 10s rest
8x400, repeat the following pattern twice
• #1 Easy on 10s rest
• #2 Steady on 10s rest
• #3 Mod-hard effort on 15s rest
• #4 Fast on 5s rest
Compare 1-4 with 5-8. Aim to have 5-8 slightly faster than 1-4.
Take more time if you need it. Goal is to complete the set. This main set gives a very clear view on your capacity to control effort as well as your true early swim pacing.
Cool Down

Sample Day 6

Aerobic Threshold (AeT) Benchmarking

One of the most important data points to know is your pace/power at the bottom of your Steady zone (HR/Power/Pace). Whether you choose the benchmark HR, or Power, the goal of this workout is to do the majority of the ride sitting at the bottom of your Steady zone.

If you have a powermeter then I recommend that you choose a flat ride and average the bottom of your Steady power zone. Watch your heart rate, review in 20 minute intervals. What you want to see is how stable your HR is over time. This is a good benchmark of the depth of your fitness.

In my own training, I will build this workout up to four hours total duration. However, the four hour main set is a bit of a special occasion! More typical is 40-120 minutes of benchmarking.

As you gain fitness you can make this main set progressive, moving through the bottom/middle/top of your Steady zone to see how you tolerate increases in training load.

If you don't have access to power then you will need to focus primarily on the breath markers discussed in our training zone summary.

All athletes, if you make a mistake then start too easy!

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