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Gauge your current fitness level. Get a physical done by your physician. Ask yourself questions such as, "Do I work out regularly (3 or more times a week)?", "How far can I swim/bike/run comfortably?", and "Do I have any medical conditions and/or injuries (e.g. asthma, strained ligaments) I should be aware of?" It is important to understand your current fitness level so that you can properly train and build onto your fitness without becoming injured.

You should determine your training heart rate ranges.

The plan prevents you from overtraining, and allows you to fit training in around other activities and work. You may want to base your training on the amount of time you have to work out. Know how hard or easy you want to work out - use your heart rate to make yourself work harder or to keep yourself from working too hard.

Keep a training log with notes of what you did each day and how you felt. Divide up the season into 5 parts: Base, Intensity, Peak, Race, and Recovery.

Before you start "real" training, you'll want to strengthen and prepare your body for the stresses it will need to handle. This is done by doing easy training and slowly increasing the amount of time or distance spent swimming, biking, and running. It is not a time to see how fast you can run 5 miles or to be hammering in the biggest gears on your bike - these types of activities will most likely lead to injuries. This is because it takes longer to build up the strength of your ligaments, tendons, and muscles than the time it take to build up your aerobic capacity (i.e. lungs and heart). Base building will slowly but surely strengthen the muscles your need to do your chosen sport. Most of this training should be done in heart rate zones I and II. You should avoid training in zone III - in this zone you can build your endurance, but your body doesn't recover as well and can become depleted over a period of time if you continue to train at that level. Zones IV and V should be avoided until you have built up enough strength to handle the higher intensities.

Depending on your current level of fitness, Base building can last anywhere from 6 weeks to 26 weeks. Follow the 10% rule - never increase the distance more than 10% above the maximum distance you have done in the last few weeks. For example, you rode your bike 100 miles last week, you wouldn't want to ride more than 110 miles this week. Base building workouts should seem easy, but may leave you tired. It is important to get enough rest and eat properly during this time. This may also be the time to put yourself on a regular schedule, fatigue can creep up unnoticed at any time.

Don't worry about speed or times yet, that is what the next periods are for. At the end of the Base period, you should be able to easily cover the distances you want to race. For example, if I wanted to do an Olympic distance triathlon such as the Sun-Times in Chicago, I should be able to swim 1 mile, bike 25 miles, and run 6 miles. Even if you can cover the distances now, you would still want to have some sort of Base period to prevent injuries later.

Plan on spending more time training in the sports you are weaker in. For example, if you already run 10K's, you'll probably want to devote more of your time to swimming and biking.

Now that you have a Base of fitness, you're ready to add more Intensity to your workouts. Again, most of the training will be done with your heart rate in zones I and II, but now you should also be doing some speedwork and intervals where your heart rate goes into zone IV for short periods of time. The Intensity period should be no longer than your Base period.

To improve performance, push your body just above what it can do comfortably, and then allow it to recover. This translates into the hard/easy training method. If you do a hard workout one day, you probably want to take it easy the next day or even take the day off as rest. This will allow your body to recover and rebuild, and your muscles will become stronger as you adapt to the greater amounts of work.

Intensity can be achieved in different ways. You may want to try some fartlek work in the beginning - going hard for a few minutes when you feel like it. Or timed intervals - go hard for X number of minutes with Y number of minutes rest. Running or biking up hills is also a good way to achieve Intensity.

Group workouts are a great way to force yourself to work hard. Most people find they can train more regularly, at a faster pace, or at greater distances when they have other people to work out with. Try to find a club or group to train with when you want to do some higher intensity workouts. Most cities have a Masters swimming team, a running club, and a bike shop that knows about the local rides. You might need to do some searching, but it is worth the effort.

Keep in mind that group workouts usually end up being a higher intensity than workouts done individually due to the competitive genes that seem to surface when groups of athletes get together to train. The 5x100 Easy set in the pool becomes 5x100 Sprints. The group ride turns into a classic cycling road race with attacks and speed surges. The group run turns into a charge on the course record. If your want an easy workout or plan on training in heart rate zones I and II, you might be better off going out by yourself.

A few weeks before racing, you should reduce the amount of time and distance you are training at and concentrate on speed. You can do this by doing shorter, more intense workouts. Races used as practice are also useful. Do some short cycling time trials or running races, especially if you're having trouble motivating yourself to train - they can be fun and a good workout at the same time. You should be doing some training in heart rate zones I and II to keep your endurance, but a good portion of your training will be in heart rate zone IV.

The idea of peaking is that you have the endurance base necessary to finish the race, now is the time to work on performance.

This period follows the racing season and gives your body the time it needs to fully recover from the abuse it took from racing. You shouldn't become a couch potato, or you have to start from ground zero next year. Do easy training. Take time to try other sports. Lift weights to rebuild strength in muscles that you do not use swimming, biking, or running (e.g. your abdominals). Don't worry about losing some fitness, but try to keep off any unnecessary pounds.

This is also the time to evaluate your plan. Did you meet your goals? Were they too high or too low? Start planning for next year. If you were injured, look at your training log to find things you should avoid. (Did you do four days of running in a row when you had only been used to doing two?)

After recovering, you are ready to start the whole cycle over again, beginning with creating a new plan for the next season.

5-EZ 6-T 7-EZ 6-T 6-EZ R 10-LSD
5-EZ Pace:
6-T 3x2 mi 
40-85min ATR Hard
7-EZ k:
20-60min Easy
6-T mi
8-EZ R 12-LSD

5K of 12 race

5-EZ 8-EZ 5-EZ 8-T
12 x 300 m at 2mi pace
8-EZ R 14-LSD
6-8 of 12 hills
4-EZ 7-EZ 5-REP
10 x 400 m at 5k pace
6-EZ 7-T R 11-LSD
WEEK 5: 45-50 MILES
5-EZ 6-REP
8 x 600 m at 5k pace
5-EZ 8-T 5-EZ 5-EZ/R 16-LSD
WEEK 6: 49-54 MILES
5-EZ 6-REP
15 x 300 m at 2mi pace
5-EZ 9-T 6-EZ 5-EZ/R 18-LSD
WEEK 7: 52-57 MI
5-EZ 6-REP
10 x 400 m; 1 second per rep faster than 5k pace
5-EZ 10-T 10-T 5-EZ/R 20-LSD
WEEK 8: 48 MI
4-EZ 8-EZ 12-T
10 x 600 m at 5k pace
6-EZ 8-EZ R 10-RACE
WEEK 9: 51-56 MI
4-EZ 7-EZ 12-T
either 18 x 300 m at 2mi pace; or, 15 but with a shorter recovery
5-EZ/R 7-EZ 3-EZ 18-LSD
WEEK 10: 56-60 MI
4-EZ 7-REP
10 x 400 m at 2mi pace (2 seconds a lap faster than 5k pace)
4-EZ 13-T 7-EZ 4-EZ/R 21-LSD
WEEK 11: 55-60 MI
5-EZ 7-REP
12 x 600 m at 5k pace
6-EZ 13-T 6-EZ 5-EZ/R 18-LSD
WEEK 12: 48 MI
5-EZ 7-REP

3x2+1 mi
7-EZ 10-T 6-EZ R 13-RACE
WEEK 13: 57-60 MI
3-EZ 8-EZ 7-REP
12 x 400 m at 2mi pace 80-92%HR
8-EZ 10-T 3-EZ/R 21-LSD
WEEK 14: 39-43 MI
R 6-EZ 6-REP
10 x 500 m at 5k pace
5-EZ 8-T 4-EZ/R 14-LSD
WEEK 15: 31-35 MI
4-EZ 5-REP

8 x 600 m at 5k pace
8-EZ 5-REP R 5-RACE 4-8-EZ
4x1mi REP
WEEK - 16 = 15 MI
R 4-REP 5-EZ 4-EZ R 2-EZ 26.2-RACE

Follow up the Ironman with 3 weeks of cross-training and run/walks with one weekly rest day.

5K Pace: 28.00min HR 2deg hill
7K Pace: 42.00min HR 2deg hill
Glossary of Training Terms and Symbols :
ATR: Anaerobic Threshold Running
R: Rest day. Do no running or other strenuous physical activity.
EZ: An easy or recovery run done at a comfortable pace. 155HR
XT: Cross training that can include any one of a number of low-impact sports (i.e. bicycling, swimming, hiking, exercise machines, weight training) that burn calories and provide cardiovascular benefits while giving you a physical and mental break from running.
LSD: Long slow distance runs of 1 to 3 hours in duration. These runs may include brief breaks for walking, stretching, rehydration, and bathroom visits. Beginners often cover these runs at their goal marathon pace. Intermediate and Advanced runners often start at a pace slower than their goal marathon pace, and finish at slightly faster than goal marathon pace.
T: Tempo runs of 15-25 minutes at a pace that's 10-20 seconds slower per mile than your 10-K race pace. Warmup and cooldown distances are included in daily mileage. 165HR
REP: Repeats of 400 meters to 1600 meters at your 5-K race pace. You should run your repeats on a 400-meter track, a grassy field, a smooth path, or a traffic-free stretch of road. Between repeats, jog half the distance covered during the repeat. Repeat day distances include warmup, cooldown, and recovery mileage. 180HR
RACE: Occasional racing improves your fitness and accustoms you to the stresses of racing.
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