How many hours per week training needed for Ironman?

Joe FrielI was listening to a Webinar by Joe Friel (long-time triathlon coaching guru), where he was walking through setting up an Annual Training Plan (ATP) for a 32-year-old, age-group athlete that was hoping to use Ironman Coeur d’Alene 2011 to qualify for Ironman Hawaii, which he estimated would take about a 9:45:00 Ironman finish…so a pretty high-end goal…for his first Ironman distance triathlon.

This athlete was training last year around 11 hours a week on average, so about 550 hours for the year…and has a baby on the way in 2011.  The fellow said that his goal for 2011 was 12-15 hours a week.  Having been reminded of the impact of a new baby on parents with our first granddaughter this year, this is a _very_ ambitious guy…wonder if his wife was listening in?…hope nobody sends her the link to the webinar :)

Joe said that for Ironman, he’s found that an annual average of 12 hours a week is about a minimum if you just really want to finish the race…pro’s are typically minimum 20, to 25-35 hours a week.  Joe therefore set up the ATP at an average of 14 hours a week, or 700 hours a year….which ended up with about a half-dozen peak weeks at around 20 hours of training…and then bumped it up a bit more…could sense that for the level of goal that our athlete had, that Joe felt this is the _bare_ minimum, and probably not enough, given that things change over a year, new baby, catch a cold, other adjustments…life…job…get in the way.  Joe said that in 30 years of setting up ATP’s “I’ve yet to have an athlete complete the season with the training plan exactly as we set it up early in the year”…so a BIG part of training is adjusting for things that come along the way.

Following the principle of periodization, when Joe puts together his ATP over a year, it includes Prep, Base, Build and Peak periods before a Race…with different focuses in each period…and obviously if you race more than once a year, these are adjusted around your A, B and C priority races…and with a rather slick technology twist, the Training Peaks software (both Daughter and I use the program to log workouts) will set this all up automatically by answering a few questions…pretty cool, to give you an idea of what a training year will look like, even if you don’t specifically use the workouts…pretty darn complete though.

More details on a page that I created, Training Needed for Ironman, that also highlights Coach Gale Bernhardt’s ideas on training hours needed.

My Annual Hours for 2011

I was left thinking that I may want to bump up my annual plan for 2011.  In the past 4 years, I haven’t been logging workouts much in the time after Ironman, until I start the training back up specifically in January…so for about 8 weeks…so I’m not exactly sure what my annual training hours have been.  But roughly:

2007:     almost 500
2008:     about 450
2009:     almost 500
2010:     about 350-400, depends how this year finishes up

Due to other commitments and travel in 2010, I took a pretty relaxed approach to the training for the beginning of the year, working out consistently, but only 5-8 hours a week in maintenance mode, and then focused on Ironman really from the middle of July forward…so about 16 weeks out…ramping up to some peak weeks in the 15 – 16.5 hour range.

Could be time to raise the numbers for 2011…looks to me like at least 500 hours…I’ll probably plug-in 600, and see what the year looks like, peak weeks and recovery weeks in particular, to get an idea of the levels.   With Daughter joining me again at the starting line, could be time to get serious :)

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