Triathletes commonly ask how long is required to fully prepare for an IRONMAN race. My answer is simple: Everyone’s unique, so there’s no one answer. But everybody’s plan should ideally include both a developmental phase and race preparation phase.
The developmental phase time will vary widely based on several factors including an athlete’s age, body composition, overall fitness, and time within the sport. It focuses on building speed, power, and efficiency to ensure the athlete has adequate fitness and skill in each discipline to take on the rigors of training for and racing in an IRONMAN.
In addition to fitness, the athlete will need to achieve certain physiological adaptations in the developmental phase. These can include changes such as body composition, muscular and connective tissue strengthening, mitochondrial density, metabolic efficiencies, and other adaptations.
These preparations will be the foundation the athlete builds upon and help the athlete achieve their best possible result as well as reduce the risk of injury and other possible drawbacks. This phase can range anywhere from a few months to several years, based on the athlete.
A traditional triathlon training approach tends to include large amounts of low intensity training in the developmental phase. This approach can be effective, however it will most likely require an excess of 15 hours or more per week which can also increase an athlete’s risk of injury.
Alternatively, TriDot’s approach leverages advanced analytics technology and big data to create highly efficient and personalized training. A typical TriDot athlete will see better results in up to 30% less training time compared to other approaches that do not utilize technology and big data.
Once the athlete has prepared himself through the developmental phase, he is ready for the race preparation phase. In this phase the athlete begins to add measured increases in duration to build the endurance needed to be an IRONMAN finisher. This is followed by a taper to ensure the athlete is rested, recovered, and ready for peak performance on race day.
Similar to the developmental phase, weekly training loads vary by athlete. Traditional methods continue to rely on high volume to build endurance, with some approaches requiring in excess of 20 hours of training a week for several months.
TriDot has a ten-year track record of producing better performance. TriDot athletes improve an average of 9.7% from their first performance assessment to their assessment immediately prior to a race. For a 12 to 13-hour IRONMAN race, that can translate to 1.5 hours. Not only is the reduced training time returned to the athlete, the risk of injury and overtraining are also reduced, ensuring the athlete arrives at the starting line in peak fitness and health.
And “ready” for their IRONMAN.
A clear knowledge and application of the developmental and preparation phases in your triathlon training will ensure stronger and more successful performances.
Which of these phases could you use more improvement on?
JOHN MAYFIELD is a USA Triathlon certified and TriDot coach and has been working with athletes since 2009. He has partnered with numerous athletes to complete their first triathlon, others to win their age group, and others to become IRONMAN finishers. As a husband and father of three, he understands training, racing, and coaching must be balanced between family and other life priorities.