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An Iron Man Fitness Routine

written by: CatNorth • edited by: Cheryl Gabbert • updated: 3/21/2011

Learn what it takes to train for an Ironman competition. Review training methods for running, cycling and swimming and understand the importance of keeping healthy during training.

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    Training for Ironman competitions demands devoted triathlon preparation and fitness work. It requires intense cross-training and daily workouts to build up the necessary speeds and distances needed for cycling, swimming, and running during races. Every event in the Ironman competition is challenging on its own. The World Triathlon Corporation Ironman competition events include equally punishing distances for running, cycling and swimming phases.1 You also must take special care of your health during training, including eating the right foods to support your daily training routine, and it’s important to avoid over-training, especially early in your training program. Follow an Ironman fitness routine that will lead you to successful completion of an Ironman challenge.

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    Running

    If you’re training for triathlons for the first time, it’s a good idea to gradually increase training time and intensity. Start out walking and running for 45 minutes to an hour, five days a week. Avoid counting miles at first and just focus on completing your time challenge. Gradually increase your mileage during the same amount of time. The running portion of Ironman competitions is a grueling marathon event, so you’ll eventually want to push yourself toward a competitive running pace and endurance level.

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    Swimming

    Practice swimming laps for about 30 minutes a day three times a week. Start with shorter distances and eventually shoot for 600 yards during practices2. Perform the crawl and the breaststroke during laps. Depending on weather and water conditions, you may end up using different swimming styles during Ironman competitions. Consider taking swimming lessons if you want to work more on swimming technique. Increasingly build your swimming speed during your 30-minute swim sessions.

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    Cycling

    Start with cycling for 30 minutes a day three to four times a week. Practice on a road bike or stationary bike. Don’t worry about speed at first, but gradually build up your speed, as well as your cycling distance. Work toward a 20-mile cycling goal on your road bike and use interval training to build up speed and stamina, suggests coach for Ironman athletes, Troy Jacobson3.

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    Trial Races

    Get ready for Ironman competition by competing in shorter triathlons and races. This is the most efficient way to prepare for Ironman competition after you’ve completed your initial training. You’ll naturally perform interval training during shorter events that will better prepare you for Ironman competitions. Coach Jacobson recommends preparing for triathlons and races with interval and time trial training. With interval or high intensity training (HIT), you alternate between a steady or slower pace and an intense pace that pushes you toward to top end of your target heart rate training zone, or 85% of your maximum heart rate4.

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    Health

    Check with your doctor or other health care provider before beginning an Ironman training program. During training, it’s especially important to follow a balanced and wholesome diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains and lean proteins. Adequate rest is essential, especially since your body goes through tremendous trials and changes during training. Muscles must rest to develop, and you’ll need to be well-rested to tackle each day’s Ironman fitness routine.

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    References

    1. Ironman: Training
      http://ironman.com/training#axzz0z02YVlrE
    2. Tri-newbies Online: Training Programs
      http://www.trinewbies.com/tno_trainingprograms.asp
    3. YouTube: Coach Troy Jacobson Sports & Fitness Training Videos: Time Saving Upper Body/Core Strength Training Routine for Triathleteshttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pAuZEQQ6zH8
    4. American Heart Association: Target Heart Rates
      http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4736
    5. Coach Troy Jacobson Sports & Fitness Training Videos: Threshold Training Ideas By Coach Troyhttp://www.coachtroy.com/