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The #1 Workout To Get You Ready For Ironman

  • By Jené Shaw
  • Published Jun 6, 2013
  • Updated Oct 9, 2013 at 1:23 AM UTC
Go into raceday with an idea of how 140.6 miles will feel. Photo: Kurt Hoy

Gordo Byrn, the founder of Endurance Corner and author of Going Long, uses what he calls Big Day Training (BDT) as a checkpoint for his athletes training for 140.6. Not only does this workout help to train your mind, you’re also teaching the body pacing and how to digest nutrition over a long period of exercise.

“This is the only way to get a taste of how it’s going to feel,” Byrn says. You might do BDT 2–3 times before race preparation. “I like 3/7/11 weeks out from the goal race for an athlete that’s new to the technique. Experienced athletes can do it more often but need to be careful that they don’t end up racing-the-race before Game Day!”

Start out by doing the workout at an easy pace with long breaks (including meals) in between sessions, then move to a race-specific focus for your second time around.

RELATED: Linsey Corbin’s Bike Strength Workout

Big Day Training workout, the first time

• Swim 1 hour

• Break, with meal

• Bike 5 hours, continuous with very minimal rest or stopping

• Break, with meal

• Run 1 hour easy

“What most people find the first time they do that session is that they’re blown away by how torched they are once they get off the bike,” Byrn says. “Because their bodies have never trained that long, it’s never had that much output. Make some notes about how you do the run. When you get to the end, you’ve got 20 miles to run on race day. Are you ready to run 20? If the answer’s no, you’ve got to dial down everything in the first five hours of that day and try it again.”

Big Day Training workout, the second time

• Swim 5000–6000 meters, with the last 2000 meters at a more challenging pace

• Quick break, change, recovery drink

• Bike 100 miles, or the equivalent of time you think you’ll be on the IM bike course

Tip: Start a little easier than your anticipated race pace, do the bulk of it around race pace, then finish up with the last third a little bit harder than race pace.

• Quick break, change, recovery drink

Tip: Try drinking a full quart of recovery drink before the 10k to fill up your gut. “It will slow you down,” Byrn says. “It will give you practice after a ton of exercise to figure out what to do when your gut is full. Guaranteed that it happens during the marathon. Sometimes your stomach is full, you feel lousy and you have to work through it. If you’ve done it in training, you won’t freak out on race day.”

• Run easy 10K

Byrn says you don’t have to get fanatical about your breaks in between, but to get the lesson from the session, keep them relatively short. Good luck!

For more information on Big Day Training see the Triathlon Training section of the Endurance Corner library.

RELATED: Three Ironman Training Questions For Coach Matt Dixon

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FILED UNDER: Ironman / Race Tips / Training TAGS: /

Jené Shaw

Jené Shaw

Jené Shaw is a senior editor at Triathlete magazine, a four-time Ironman finisher and a USAT Level 1 certified coach

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