Triathlete Magazine 16-Week Advanced Ironman Plan

Average Weekly Training Hours 19:35
Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Training Hours 19:35
Training Load By Week

This training plan is designed for an experienced athlete looking to race a full distance triathlon consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run.

Before starting, you should have at least 12 weeks of consistent training with volume no less than 12 hours a week.

The plan will begin moderately for the first 4 weeks and progress in volume and then intensity. The final 4 weeks will include a large three-week block maxing weekly volume at 25 hours before going into taper week.

Upon completion of the 16 weeks, you will have improved your efficiency, focus and feel for perceived effort, especially around your Ironman race pace.

You can continue to use power meters, gps and HR to monitor efforts but this plan encourages you to learn yourself without needing the equipment.

We've all heard, "You're stronger than you think," but most don’t find that strength. Most think they're strong but remain in their comfort zone. You don’t find strength in comfort.

At some point, training can get uncomfortable. Discomfort is not a number, it’s something we feel. Training for an Ironman using feel allows you to control your level of discomfort and find your strength.

To keep you safe while you're uncomfortable, this plan will work off five zones. You will spend most of your time during this plan in the middle three zones.

Five Training Zones
Easy: Embarrassingly easy. If your friends don’t comment on how slow you're're not going easy enough.

Mod: Moderate effort. RPE 3-4. Swim max effort for 40–70 min, bike max effort for 3–5 hours, run max effort for 2.5–3 hours.

Med: Medium effort. RPE 5-6. Swim max effort for 20–40 min, bike max effort for 90–140 min, run max effort for 75–120 min.

Mad: Mad effort. RPE 7-8. Swim max effort for 15–20 min, bike max effort for 45–70 min, run max effort for 20–60 min.

ALL OUT: Always max effort for whatever the duration is. If your friends don’t comment on how ugly you’re're not going hard enough.

The guidelines above will allow you to work off of feel without burying yourself or holding yourself back. When you have the energy, push yourself towards the harder limits of the zone. When you're not feeling it, pull back and work the easier side of the zone.

If you are unable to match pace or volume and are sick, tired, stressed or dealing with GI issues, still do what you can and go 100% by how you feel. If you’re injured, go easy and with caution. So long as you're working the feel. the feel is real.

If you can’t do a workout, don’t try to make it up. Work out how to avoid missing another one and move on.

Sample Day 1
30 min easy

This should be done in the afternoon.

30 min easy

Preferably on trail or asphalt. Avoid concrete

Sample Day 1
2 hours fat burn

This is intended to be done immediately after the swim.

No calories on ride, water only.

Keep effort easy for first hour then build to a moderate effort but working a bigger gear to keep heart rate low.

After the swim and ride refuel adequately, recognizing both sessions have likely put you at a caloric deficit.

Sample Day 1
3.6k aerobic

This is a standard Monday morning aerobic session intended to improve efficiency of your motor skills as well as your metabolism.

This should be done first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Coffee or tea OK but no sugar or milk.

200 as you feel

Main set:
4x400 pull Mod with 10 seconds rest
4x400 pull paddles Mod effort with 15 seconds rest.

200 as you feel

Aim to keep HR low throughout and focus on your stroke.

If time allows go straight from swim to bike and begin ride without calories otherwise it's OK to eat after swim and do ride in afternoon.

Sample Day 2
3k speed and endurance

First session of day.

5x50 on 1:00 building each 50 easy to Med

Main set with paddles and buoy:
30x50 4 Mod effort 5th is All Out, 5 sec rest between each 50

1k easy with Mod efforts as you feel

5x50 on 1:00 all easy

Sample Day 2
40 min hill repeats big gear 1:1

Best performed on an indoor trainer. Do first thing in the morning. Lite snack OK before starting.

Warm-up: 20 min very easy, keep cadence between 70-85 RPM

20x(1 min high resistance Mad, 1 min low resistance easy)

Warm-down: 20 min very easy, cadence at 95 RPM 1st 10 min then natural cadence final 10 min

Cadence on high resistance should be between 45-55 RPM. Natural cadence on low resistance. Work in aero position on all Mad efforts.

Aim is strength and neuromuscular activation. Work the glutes, hamstrings and core on each rep. This is bike-specific weight training.

Sample Day 3
30 min pre-run warm-up

Do just before the run.
Keep effort easy and let legs and body warm up without creating fatigue.

Sample Day 3
3k endurance

Do first thing in the day. Lite snack OK before.

Warm-up: 250 as you feel

Main Set:
10x100 mod on 10 sec rest
10x100 med on 15 sec rest
5x100 mad on 20 sec rest

Warm-down: 250 as you feel