This plan offers the minimal training you need for a successful Ironman finish. And by successful I mean finishing strong, not limping across the line and falling on your face!
The Level 1 training plan features 9 workouts per week, with relatively short workouts during the week and all of the long ones crammed into the weekends. In the odd-numbered weeks you’ll do 3 swims, 3 rides, and 3 runs. In weeks 2, 6, and so forth, you will do a brick workout instead of a ride on Saturday, which effectively adds a fourth run to your schedule. In weeks 4, 8, and so forth, you will do a brick workout on Sunday instead of a run, which effectively adds a fourth ride to the schedule.
The plan is 24 weeks long, which is the optimal amount of specific preparation time for an Ironman. Each phase – base, build, and peak – is 8 weeks long. Every fourth week is a recovery week and the final 2 weeks constitute a tapering period. There are three optional tune-up races scheduled: a sprint in Week 12, and Olympic distance event in Week 16, and a half Ironman in Week 20.
The Level 1 plan begins with 4,300 yard of swimming, 2 hours and 45 minutes of cycling, and 1 hour and 51 minutes of running in Week 1. It peaks with 8,600 yards of swimming, 8 hours and 50 minutes of cycling, and 2 hours and 45 minutes of running in Week 22. (Note that, including the brick workout, this is a week with 4 rides and 3 runs, so the total cycling time is higher and the running time lower than in weeks 21 and 23.)