IRONMAN 16-Week Beginner Training Program by Coach Troy Jacobson

PURPOSE: This is a beginner level Ironman Distance training plan intended for use by the age group triathlete with at least one season of triathlon racing experience but with no Ironman distance experience. Training time ranges from 9 hours per week up to around 18 hours of weekly training during 'peak' volume. The goal for the plan is to help the athlete build confidence and the basic skills and fitness necessary to finish the race in a reasonable time comfortably and uninjured while having a meaning Ironman day race experience! After completing this plan, progressing to the Advanced Plan will help take your performance to the next level.

Before starting this plan, it's recommended that the athlete complete at least 12 weeks of steady aerobic foundation training and perhaps have completed one or two races in order to establish their 'race legs'. This beginner program requires a moderate level of overall body conditioning and good biomechanics due to the high volume during peak weeks. It is expected that the athlete takes full responsibility for monitoring themselves for signs of overtraining or overuse and adjust the plan according to their own individual needs. A complete physical check up is recommended prior to starting this or any strenuous exercise program. Finally, it's important for all athletes to understand that successful triathlon racing requires a year-round commitment to training and it is advised that serious competitors work with a coach in regard to their annual training plan development.

The daily workouts in the plan are detailed with small ranges in order to accommodate individual time restraints. For example, a run workout might suggest 40-45 minutes of zone 2 (aerobic paced) running and a target distance of 5 miles. It is up to the athlete to hit daily training goals and to log them accordingly in the trainingpeaks software.

With the busy age group athlete in mind, most weekdays involve lighter training loads of one or two workouts a day and involve a time commitment of one to two hours (or slightly more) depending on which stage of the plan the athlete is in. Weekends typically have higher workloads and 'peak' at upwards of 8-10 hours of total training.

At times during the plan, Spinervals DVDs are recommended for use but are not required. Athletes can learn more about the Spinervals DVD series by visiting Also, training tips are available to everyone by visiting

The workouts are given an intensity description by Zones. Advanced athletes can use heart rate, power (on the bike) or PE(perceived effort) to monitor their daily training intensities. In general, the intensities for this plan are as follows:

Zone 1: Recovery pace. Very low intensity active recovery 'shake the legs out'. Ideal after long/hard workout days and races. 'Noodle it'.

Zone 2: Aerobic/Blue pace. Low to moderate intensity training. PE of 6-7.5 (Scale 1-10, 10 being 100%). Steady conversation effort. HR is at least 10-25 beats per minute below LTHR (lactate threshold heart rate).

Zone 3: Aerobic Endurance/Gray pace. Moderate to hard training. PE of 7.5- 8.5. Harder efforts that can be sustained for long periods of time. HR 0-10 beats below LTHR

Zone 4: Threshold Training. Hard training at a pace sustainable for short durations. At and above 'race pace'. PE 8.5 - 9. Suffer a little. HR within 5+/- LTHR

Zone 5: V02max Training: Really hard training, PE 9-10. Suffer a lot. HR 10-20 bpm above LTHR

Prior to starting this program and again mid-way through the program, it is recommended that the athlete gets a metabolic test in order to set up target training zones effectively. If that test is not available or convenient, benchmark tests such as that found in Spinervals 27.0 (, a 20 minute functional threshold test or for the run, a hard 3 mile effort (take avg. HR for the run) can be used to determine LTHR. (Example: If a 3 mile hard, race paced run yields an avg. HR of 150 bpm, this is your LTHR.)

By the end of this 16 week block of training, the athlete should have a high level of fitness required for the successful completion of the Ironman distance. More information, videos and articles about training and racing can be found online at, with a bulk of articles available to members of the website.

We wish you luck with your training and racing this season and thank you for using this training plan and our other services. Please note that we also offer training camps and personal coaching and training plan development too as found at If you have any questions, please contact us at

Train smart, Coach Troy Jacobson Official Coach of IRONMAN

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