Welcome to the Endurance Specific Iron Distance Blueprint.
Note: If you purchased the advanced Ironman Ironman Blueprint, there is an assumption that you are not starting from zero. If you are, we highly recommend you use our 8 week ‘Triathlon Training Prep Plan’ first as that will get you ready to undertake this plan.
Firstly we want to say a big Thank You for purchasing this Iron Distance Blueprint training program. We’re truly grateful for your belief in our coaching philosophy and we intend to do whatever we can to strengthen that. Because when we wholeheartedly believe in what we’re doing, great things happen.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. To be remarkable in anything, simply ACT with the intention of being remarkable. This ‘little’ mind shift will help you be successful in your Ironman® adventures.
You’re about to begin a journey, a journey that many a blueprint athlete has already begun and succeeded greatly at. Your journey will ultimately lead you to a great race finish from following the plan and advice within, but it’s so much more than that. What you have done is made an awesome investment into yourself.
You see we believe that we need to invest in ourselves daily to live a great life. So this is not just an Iron distance training plan. It’s more than that. It’s a blueprint to being a successful athlete and to us that means that you can get extraordinary performances while building extraordinary health, having fun and still having a life. Being a triathlete should be a part of who you are, it should not define who you are.
You have invested in yourself by creating better health via training for an Iron distance race. Health is actually one of the two most important resources in our life. Exceptional health gives us the physical energy we need to do all of our daily tasks to the best level that we can. The other resource is mental focus. With mental focus (and strength) on the task at hand we get so much more done in life. Over the weeks, you’ll be developing your mental focus (and strength) in training, so you’ll have this important skill set when it comes to game day.
By keeping focused on the task, in the moment means we get better performances. As soon as our minds drift off task, we slow down, the task gets harder and we don’t achieve what it was that we set out to achieve. FOCUS.
Before we dive in, we want to thank you again and would like to take the opportunity to ask that, if you find value in this Iron Distance Blueprint that you could help spread the word by recommending Endurance Specific Coaching & Training Plans.
Below are all the additional resources that will help you get the most out the Endurance Specific Iron Distance Blueprint.
Below you’ll find all the supporting documents and resources to help you on your journey towards your races.
If you have any questions regarding the plans please email me at kristian (at) endurancespecific.com.
The strength and core sessions should be done. They are there to help not only develop a strong core (shoulders to hips), but to provide a stable platform that you can leverage power from. They also help create resilient muscles and provide an anabolic response to help with recovery.
Yes they’re important.
Can you get away with not doing them? Sure, but your results may not be as good.
Older athletes should be doing this session. If you have the time, then completing the strength/core workouts is a great investment into your health and performance goals.
Working with many athletes and also testing many different paddles, We have found a few paddles that we believe work the best in developing your catch. These are the TYR Catalyst 2 and they also keep shoulders pretty happy too. I recommend the XS (green) for swimmers that swim 55min + Ironman swim times. Those swimming under that may go for the small (yellow) ones. Muscular guys should also use the XS. These provide enough resistance that will help develop strength, a good catch and also keep our heart rates down when going hard (please don’t worry about the advice on the packaging regarding size).
We also like the Finis Agility paddles. At the end of the day. If you cannot afford another set of paddles, use the ones you have got, UNLESS you have dinner plates! Those will be hurting your shoulders and performance.
I have assigned lots of pull buoy or wetsuit short use and for good reason. It allows you, especially if you’re a less experienced swimmer to feel the correct position without having to ‘overthink it’ while swimming and from that more correct position, focus on developing a strong and better stroke.
The pull buoy also makes your body position similar to swimming with a wetsuit on. If you’re racing a race where it will be a non-wetsuit swim you can start reducing the amount you use the PB from week 15. The strength and core work will help with your body position, but do expect that it will take a number of sessions without using the PB or shorts to feel better in the water without them.
You’re doing nothing wrong. It takes time and a huge amount of focus to develop your stride rate into the 90+ steps per foot per minute range. This is the optimal running cadence and more so for running off the bike. Actually developing a naturally high stride rate is key to fast triathlon running performances.
By running in the 90’s and aiming for 96 (after riding at a lower cadence) we effectively break the work up into small pieces that our muscles have to do. This teaches you a more efficient, triathlon adapted stride, which reduces the impact of each stride, helping prevent injury. This skill also breaks down the built up leg viscosity from our bike sessions.
Work out where you’re at across the intensity levels (easy, mod, mod-hard, hard and fast) and then start chipping away at increasing your stride rate at each intensity level. Maybe one or two extra steps per foot per minute and then holding that.
At true easy (keeping your heart rate lower) don’t worry about your stride rate so much. But from moderate and above. Know where you are at and work slowly and surely towards the stride rate goal.
Use tools like a treadmill, a Finis Tempo Trainer or a slight downhill road, to assist in your development of this important skill set. The treadmill will assist your stride when you set it at 0% grade- you’ll also notice you can run slightly faster for less aerobic cost.
As I said it takes time and a helluva lot of focus. But have patience, chip away at it and soon enough you’ll have learnt to run with a naturally faster stride rate and it will be second nature late into races when it counts. It is a key to running fast and maintaining form under duress.
The truth is that ‘lower’ cadence and pushing a big does not ruin your run or trash your legs. In fact it is the spin to win or spin like Lance phenomenon that has ruined most athletes’ runs. The quick and simple reason is that if you are riding at a 90+ cadence over an Ironman® and even a 70.3® duration you’re hammering (over-taxing) that neuromuscular pattern.
Above I talk about why getting your stride rate in the 90’s on the run is important. The problem is if you have ridden at that cadence and then try to run at that optimal high stride rate you’ll be neuromuscularly fried.
And that is one major reason we see athletes on the marathon plodding, aka going nowhere fast!
That neuromuscular system is done. It’s kaput and so is your race.
The further issue with the high cadence phenomenon is that it causes higher aerobic stress and thus greater consumption of stored glycogen. This is ok when there is no run off the bike. But this is triathlon and Ironman® at that means, in case you forgot, you have a marathon to run.
So in essence the lower cadence of 70-80 rpm for the race saves your run muscles and allows you to arrive at the start of the run in control without massive amounts of accumulated aerobic fatigue.
We need to save that aerobic capacity to run fast.
You might say, well such-n-such Pro rides with higher cadences and run-off super fast. Yes they do and they have trained that. They have an immense athletic age and the time to develop that skill, and for those at the tippy top – genetics! Time as a busy age grouper is a resource you don’t have. But I can point to many a successful pro with a bike cadence in the 70-80 rpm range and have still dominated the day with a fast run off.
First up it depends on how bad the weather is. Sometimes you just have to gear up and get out there. It could happen on race day! (Maybe a reason the Brownlee brothers are so good?!) But, I get it, sometimes it is just too dangerous to go outdoors.
Then it’s time to get on the indoor trainer. And I do not recommend changing or reducing the session. There are many benefits and using a trainer for your long session or any for that matter is underrated.
Unfortunately there is this myth out there that since you have to be on the ‘boring’ trainer and there are no stops (sigh… resting) that there is some ‘magic’ formula that should reduce the time on the trainer compared to what would be planned on the road.
Here is where an attitude shift is needed (not saying yours, but collectively).
Indoor trainers are massively underrated because athletes find them boring. Hmm swimming down a black lane lap after lap is also boring, in fact Ironman® racing isn’t that exciting for the most part and that includes Kona, no matter how inviting the NBC coverage tries to make it.
So by changing the attitude from ‘boring’ to this is hugely beneficial in a number of ways.
Here’s what’s in it for you, and why, when the heavens open up. The time on the trainer is CONSTANT work, which is potent for developing race specific fitness and making it time super efficient.
It’s SAFE. You can put your head down and get it done without the worry of cars etc.
If you’re finding that it’s mentally challenging to knock out a long ride on the trainer – then this is one of your limiters that you get an OPPORTUNITY to work on. This is an additional bonus benefit that you’ll be able to draw upon come race day. A trainer teaches you about patience. It teaches you to turn off the ‘noise’ in your head and get the job done. This will be super beneficial to you come race day.
While a trainer is not as fun or inspiring as being out on the wide open road it provides immense benefits. So the next time you find yourself ‘stuck’ inside due to the elements, smile and revel in the fact that you have just been given a huge opportunity.
Charlotte and I have both grinded through 6h trainer sessions in the lead up to Ironman® races due to torrential rain coming down. Funnily enough, the times we did them also led to our best results.
A caveat is… we now see athletes not want to ride outside. We get that from a safety standpoint but you lose out on development of skills, and the fitness that comes from different road surfaces, the ups and downs, dealing with wind, and other environmental conditions.
Ideally it is best to follow the weekly order as they are designed very specifically. If a session needs to be swapped i.e. AM to PM and visa versa then that is fine if you can only access facilities at certain times. Take swim pools for example. If your only option is PM then you’ll have to swim second.
Weaker neophyte swimmers should always try to do the swim sessions first (except weekend recovery swim) as you want to be more fresh for this hard-won skill.
The sessions are placed strategically so different systems can rest and recover while you’re taxing another. This allows you to train consistently hard and thus get exceptional results.
You can swap the weekend days around if need be. I personally prefer the long run to be on a Sunday when you have a week’s worth of fatigue and especially Saturdays biking in the legs. This makes it much more ‘race realistic’ as you need to run with good form on tired legs.
If you are finding it difficult to do the structure as intended then it is probably best to upgrade to our customized blueprint. We adapt the plans to fit your life circumstances and you also get once weekly email access for the length of the plan. Upgrade here.
Consider this session lost and continue on with the plan as normal. Playing catch up will play havoc with your hormonal system and you’ll end up aerobically fried. Muscles recover relatively quickly. Your aerobic system takes much longer. Also consider that you just got a recovery day.
I love it when a 70.3® or Olympic distance race is between 4-6 weeks out from your Ironman® Iron distance race. Especially 70.3® as it gives you some good race and pacing practice while also giving you the ability to refine your race fuelling strategy.
Slotting it in depends on your goals and how close the race is. 6 weeks out you can afford a short taper 4-5 days (using sessions in race) and then having 3-4 days easy (in lieu of the prescribed sessions) before easing back into the full plan.
When the race is only 4 weeks out, I think it is better to essentially train through. Go very light 2 days out from the race. This allows us to still have some fatigue on the system so you can push hard in the race without overly stressing your aerobic system. It will be stressed but not so much as to require extended recovery. Spend a couple of days easy and then do more big gear and paddle work to stimulate your strength system. This promotes an anabolic response, which accelerates your recovery.
If you’re sick, it is much more important to take a day off and take it day-by-day and always ease back into training gradually over a couple of days.
If you have been checking your resting heart rate over time and notice it’s still elevated then you can use that to judge your return to training.
It’s best to only lose one or two days then creating full-blown sickness because you pushed through and now have lost weeks. I also believe there is a high correlation with health problems when motivated athletes coming off sickness go and push a session very hard because they fear loss of fitness. This is a surefire way to lose big chunks of time and jeopardize your long-term health.Here is a must read (and implement when sick) article I wrote “Don’t Train Through Sickness”
Success is dependent on repetition and by that I mean constantly dripping in a training stimulus into the body that is going to give the desired training effect.
The more consistent you are long term the better an athlete you become. Period.
Many athletes take time off or miss sessions purely based on how they subjectively feel. We all know that at times we wake up tired and it is tempting to stay under the covers. However this is not always true fatigue… maybe you stayed up too late, maybe it’s just un-metabolized waste products from the previous training sessions that need to be flushed.
Make sure you read this “Test Driving the Body” article as it will help you make informed objective decisions whether or not you should train on a particular day and how to implement your sessions when you do feel tired or sore.
Now go and read through the other documents. Some like the race week essentials you don’t need right now and you’ll be prompted within Training Peaks to read that or re-read at the right time. There is no downside to read through all the documents that are listed here right now either.