What Makes A Good Ironman Training Plan?

There are a lot of triathlon and Ironman training plans available on the web.

Some are 8 weeks, others 2 years. Some are free, others cost $500. Some have coaches, some do not.

But which training plan is right for you?

Well, it depends!

It depends on your current fitness & experience, your goals and desires, and a few other things.

With all that in consideration, however, here are 4 critical elements of every good Ironman training plan.

  1. It’s Realistic
  2. Flexible Schedule
  3. It Has Long Days
  4. It Encourages Rest Weeks

It’s Realistic

First and foremost,d an Ironman training plan has to be realistic for you, and where you are in life.

If you can’t currently run 15 miles, bike 70, and swim a mile straight – you probably shouldn’t start with an 8-12 week plan!

If your current fitness is such that you can run a mile or two, enjoy casually biking, and maybe haven’t swam in a long time – you need to find an Ironman training plan around 1 year long that starts with short runs, bikes, and easy swims.

The key is to set yourself up for success, and choosing a plan that you think you can actually ‘do’ the workouts – is a key step in that.

Flexible Training Schedule

Unless you’re a professional triathlete, you’ve probably got some ‘life’ going on.

Maybe you’ve got a 9-5 job, a spouse, some kids and a dog (or any combination of those things).

That usually means that stuff happens and plans change!

The reality of training for an Ironman, is that there’s a lot of work involved. Most training plans will have 8-10 workouts per week, some twice in one day.

That takes a lot of time, but it also puts a stress on “life’s” schedule.

Work event pops, up, family emergency happens, you get sick, you get injured, etc.

Any quality Ironman training plan is going to have flexibility. That usually looks like a plan that doesn’t totally fall apart if you:

  • Miss one day
  • Shuffle sessions around
  • Combine a session here and there

Yes, there are hardo’s out there who will tell you that if you miss any training you’ve failed – but that’s just ridiculous.

If you maintain consistency, and only miss a day or two here and there for legitimate reasons, you’ll be totally fine! And your plan should allow for that.

It Has A Few Long Days

A major piece to any good triathlon training plan, and even any good marathon training plan, is the long workout.

For marathons, these are usually 1 day on the weekend where you run closer and closer to race distance (18, 20, even 22 miles).

For triathletes, you actually need 2 of these days (at least), one for a long bike, and one for a long run.

As you approach the peak phase of any good triathlon training plan, your weekend long day mileage should, well, be long. Bikes that reach 4-5 hours long, runs that reach 2.5-3 hours in length, are all necessary parts of peaking for race day.

It Has Rest Weeks

These types of weeks have many names.

  • Rest weeks
  • Taper weeks
  • Recover weeks
  • etc.

But they all mean the same thing.

An Ironman training plan that takes you from couch to Ironman, is going to have to increase your overall volume and distance over time.

A good training plan, increases your volume for 2-3 weeks straight, and then has a week where your volume is slightly less than the previous.

Then the cycle begins again.

This type of ‘wave pattern’ is key in reducing the possibility for injury, giving your body and mind a break, and simply making progress feel a bit more approachable.

Choose The right Ironman Training Plan For You

There are thousands of available plans on the internet.

Some are right and appropriate for you, and it’s ok that some aren’t!

Do your homework, ask the right questions, and make sure that the training plan you choose:

  1. Has a flexible schedule
  2. Is realistic based on where you are in life and fitness
  3. Offers the key ‘long workout’
  4. Encourages rest/recovery weeks

And while you’re here, I know of a plan that meets all of the above criteria, AND has support from a community of hundreds of athletes who have completed it themselves – check it out 👇🏻👇🏻👇🏻