There are 1000 ways to train for an Ironman, so what I am about to write is my opinion, but I have seen the same type of thought process from many other coaches. What type of long-distance training do you see when we are training for an Ironman? A long ride on Saturday. A long run on Sunday. Sound familiar?
I completely disagree with this style of training. Here are my reasons why:
- If you have a long bike on Saturday, you are already at a deficit in your calories going into the Sunday run. Athletes will try to get the number of calories that they used up on Saturday, but you are trying to fuel for the deficit from the bike, calories to live, and calories for that run. It can be very hard to get that many calories in to go run that next day and feel fresh.
- You will be tired. Muscular, mental, and overall fatigue going into those runs on Sunday. People will ask me, “Don’t you want you to want to go into your long run fatigued as you do for an Ironman?” You are going to be “tired” regardless of going into that run for your Ironman. So let me ask you a question: ”If you are fatigued going into your long run on Sunday, are you training your body to run fatigued or run slow?” My opinion: You run slow; you will be slow for your Ironman.
- It is extremely hard to recover from a long run for Ironman training. As an athlete heads into the beginning of their week, they may be quite fatigued maybe all the way up to Wednesday, so the quality of training is limited. This combo can be very hard on the body.
So, what do I suggest? And what do I give my athletes?
- If you can separate your long bike and your long run by one day, this will be critical for your mind and body! Try either to take a day off in between OR a nice easy swim.
- I will give the athletes their long run either on a Wednesday/Thursday and their long bike/brick on Friday/Saturday. Some people have the flexibility to run and bike during the week due to their schedule. Others who have a 9-5 job can either run longer in the morning or after work.
- You will be able to fuel your body properly throughout the week for the long bike and long run.
As a coach, I am all about quality training versus quantity training. You will see that in my own training, in addition to my athletes’. There is a purpose behind each workout that I give my athletes. We want your longer bike/bricks and long run to have meaning behind it. For example, add some intervals on your longer bike on Friday to get faster. Do a progressive run on Sunday to teach your body to go faster as you get more fatigue throughout the run. Now we are seeing progress in our training.