I'm not sure if anyone here does triathlons or ironman races but heres a little thing on it.
The 29th running of the Ford Ironman World Championship on the Big Island
of Hawaii is the culmination of 26 qualifying events across the globe. Itís also the most well-known triathlon in the world. Itís broadcast to millions of TV viewers in the months that follow the event and is instantly available worldwide through the Web site www.ironmanlive.com
, the official site of the Ironman.
Often referred to as ďthat crazy thing in Hawaii,Ē the race is revered by many as the most grueling one-day endurance event anywhere.
But not all triathlons (there are nearly 2,000 held in the United States each year) are as unforgiving. Many, in fact, can be trained for with a reasonable commitment of time. A sprint-distance triathlon, generally the choice of new triathletes, features a modest 750-meter swim, a 12-mile bike leg and a 5-kilometer run. Typically, the next step up is the Olympic-distance triathlon, which has been adopted as the International Triathlon Unionís standardized race length for international competition and the Olympic Games. Its 1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike and 10-kilometer run are manageable distances for those with an adequate level of base fitness.
The remaining two distances are the Ironman -- 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a full 26.2-mile marathon -- and the half-Ironman, exactly half the respective distances of its big brother. While there are many half- and full-Ironman events, there are far more triathlons at the easily trained-for Olympic and sprint distances.
Do a triathlon? Heck, yeah. But which distance to choose?
Starting from scratch
If youíre starting from scratch, with little or no base fitness, sign up for a sprint-distance race. Although it is possible for some people to jump in cold and finish a sprint distance on a dare, you can properly train for the event in just 12 weeks and give appropriate time to each discipline. A general rule of thumb for shorter races is this: In a given training week, your training should include three to four times the distance of your intended race. For example, if youíre racing a sprint triathlon, within a given week, you should swim 1.5 miles, bike 45 and run 15 -- total. Of course, this shouldnít be attempted at the beginning of your 12-week training, instead you should aim for these totals after a month to six weeks of gradual increases in your workouts.
Recovery, or rest weeks, should be built within your program every four weeks to give your body adequate time for your growing muscles to recover.
In general, you should allot 10-12 hours of training per week over a three- to four-month span. A good sample program would look like this:
Monday: Swim 45 minutes, bike 30 minutes
Tuesday: Swim 50 minutes, run 30 minutes
Wednesday: Bike 1 hour
Thursday: Swim 45 minutes, run 30 minutes
Friday: Bike 1 hour
Saturday: Run 45 minutes, swim 20 minutes
Olympic-distance races take more time to prepare for. They are longer and harder and should be attempted only by those who have adequate base-fitness levels. If you are currently able to bike for an hour and a half at a moderate pace or run 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) somewhat easily, this would be a distance for you. Although the Olympic distances arenít drastically more than a sprint, the differences are enough to make endurance key here.
A good rule of thumb for Olympic-distance training is 12-15 hours weekly for four to five months. A sample program might look like this:
Monday: Swim 45 minutes, bike 30 minutes
Tuesday: Swim 1 hour, run 40 minutes
Wednesday: Bike 90 minutes, run 35 minutes
Thursday: Swim 45 minutes
Friday: Bike 1 hour, swim 20 minutes
Saturday: Run 50 minutes
Full and half Ironmans
Ironman training is a different beast altogether. Not only is training for one time-intensive, but the distance can be hard on your body -- and on your family and job. Ironmans, either the half or the full shebang, should not be attempted without a much greater base of distance training (preferably administered by a coach), experience in each discipline, a balanced nutrition plan and proper form and technique. An average week of Ironman training could very well hit the 20-hour mark or higher for building weeks.
Here's good sample program that figures 18-22 hours of training weekly for six to eight months:
Tuesday: Swim 1 hour, run 30 minutes
Wednesday: Bike 2 hours, swim 45 minutes
Thursday: Swim 1 hour, run 45 minutes
Saturday: Run 1.5 to 3 hours
Sunday: Bike 4 to 6 hours
Which of these triathlons will work for you? Thatís up to you to decide, but the best approach would be to tackle them in ascending order: sprint, Olympic, half Ironman and full Ironman. Training for any of them will provide a healthier body, trim fat and give you a deep feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment.
Once you set your sights on a race, get a training plan (whatís above are illustrative at best). Good resources are available at Web sites such as www.trinewbies.com
For coaching services (which generally start at $45 a month and rise quite a bit higher depending on how serious of training you prefer), try Lance Armstrongís coach, Chris Carmichael, and his CTS Training by visiting www.trainright.com
. Or try Lance Watson at www.lifesport.ca
or Troy Jacobson at www.triathlonacademy.com
. All are superb coaches who can communicate well with everyone from sheer beginners to Olympic gold medalists.