Champion Iron Sessions

220 brings together the world’s greatest long-course athletes from history and the curre…

220 brings together the world’s greatest long-course athletes from history and the current day to ensure you reach your Iron goals…

With Ironman Cairns coming up in a few months we’ve got all the tips you’ll need to prepare.

Craig Alexander was once quoted as saying that the first steps of victory in the Ironman World Championship endurance-fest were taken months earlier. And they were clearly impressive strides the antipodean legend took, racking up three Ironman world championship titles in Kona, Hawaii, between 2008 and 2011. Alexander’s legendary presence continues to loom over the world of multisport as, like many elite triathletes, he’s seamlessly made the move from singer to conductor.

In fact, Alexander is one of the 15 Ironman stars that we’ve gathered together to extract the training secrets to their respective successes. Some, like Chrissie Wellington and Kona icon Mark Allen, no longer race at elite level. Many, like current Ironman world champion Daniela Ryf, fastest Brit ever Joe Skipper and three-time Hawaii victor Mirinda Carfrae, currently light up the world racing circuit.

For each, we’ve followed the same format to ensure you’re spoon-fed the intensity and duration of session, plus the respective nutritional requirements.

Finally, be warned that, as you’d expect from a breed of human that thrives on digging to the depths, many of these are damn tough. The hardcore out there, whose minds and bodies have built resilience over many years of training, will cope. But don’t fear if things look that bit too long or intense. You can play around with cutting the duration of sessions and reps down to suit your ability, while retaining the basic workout structure.

Swim

Lucy Charles -The Iron VO2

Lucy says “This is a quality session that increases both speed and endurance. It’s a toughie but, if you can do it weekly, you’ll
see a notable difference in your swim times.”

Key kit
– Swim cap
– goggles
– pull buoy
– kickboard

Warm-up

100m swim, 100m pull buoy, 100m kick
with 30secs rest between each

Main set

50m at near-max effort on 60secs [on is
swim time plus rest time before you go
again: in this case, 60secs]

100m at near-max effort on 2mins

150m at near-max effort on 3mins

200m at near-max effort on 4mins

300m relaxed on 6mins

200m at near-max effort on 4mins

150m at near-max effort on 3mins

100m at near-max effort on 2mins

50m at near-max effort on 60secs

300m relaxed

Cool-down
100m kick, 100m pull, 100m with 30secs rest

Nutrition

“Make sure you’re fully hydrated. I eat a banana 30mins before and top-up on two electrolyte drink bottles by the end of the session.”

Andy Potts – Calm Breathing

Andy says “This isn’t a session as such but a breathing technique I developed to cope with pre-race panic attacks.”

Key kit
– you

The Session

(No warm-up, main set or cool-down). Start with a few deep breaths, then build breaths faster and faster, before inhaling deeply and holding. Repeat several times. This works!

Nutrition

“Sip on some water or take an energy gel before hitting the swim.”

Bike

Liz Blatchford  – 15-minuters

Liz says “This is an endurance set that gets you familiar with different effort levels/zones.”

Key kit
– Bike
– power meter, set up to show average lap power

Warm-up
Anywhere from 40mins-2hrs of steady riding

Main set

5 x [5mins @ Ironman wattage, 5mins @ half-Ironman wattage, 5mins @ Olympic-distance wattage, 5mins super easy]. For each 5mins, looking to hit average power within these pre-established ranges, lapping the power meter at each 5mins.

Cool-down
Variable

Nutrition

“You definitely want to be fuelled for this session and taking on fluid and fuel throughout. I often use this one to test race nutrition – Etixx gels and electrolyte drink.”

Daniela Ryf – Turbo Regular

Daniela says “I do this once a week throughout the year, no matter whether I’m racing short or long-distance events. It builds an element of speed and strength, and is quickly ticked off.”

Key kit
– Bike
– turbo trainer

Warm-up

10min spin

Main set

30min hard effort

Cool-down

5min spin down

Nutrition

“Not vital over such a short session but I like a smoothie. The recipe? Simply blend together the following: one cup of frozen raspberries, one nectarine, one cup vanilla yoghurt, two tablespoons of sesame seeds, two tablespoons of lupine protein, two drops of essential lemon oil plus enough water so it reaches the level of the fruit in the blender.”

Run

Mirinda Cafrae – Quad Buster

Mirinda says “People think the off months are all about building base miles, but I like to keep some short, hard efforts in the mix to stay on top of my dynamic explosive power and speed. I generally do this type of session every two to three weeks.”

Key kit
Layered run kit

Warm-up
2-3-mile easy-paced

Main set
8-10 x [1min uphill sprints, with easy jog back down to starting point]

Cool-down
1-2-mile tempo-paced

Nutrition

Pre – “GU Energy Gel 15mins prior.”

During – “GU Brew bottle – keep it at the base of the incline and take sips as needed before the hard efforts”

Post – “Chocolate milk!”

Craig Alexander – Build Run

Craig says “I used to do this session early in a pre-season training phase. It builds endurance and strength without being too taxing on a body that’s far from race-ready.”

Key kit
– Off-road run shoes
– weather-appropriate clothing

Warm-up
The warm-up is part of the main set

Main set
Break the run into 20 or 30min blocks. Start very easy and build each segment so that the last is at or close to goal marathon pace in an Ironman. Be careful with pacing. The point is to have discernible increases from one segment to the next. I never use HR as a measure in this run – just Perceived Exertion

Cool-down
The cool-down is part of the main set

Nutrition

“Perhaps carry some fuel with you but be sure to rehydrate and start the recovery process with the right nutrition immediately afterwards.”

 

Ready to commit? Head to IRONMAN Cairns for all the details including race entry.

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