Your Next Ironman Race Strategy

By Vinnie Santana, Coach,  ironguides.net

Recently, an athlete who uses our plans posted a question in our forum about which strategy to use on the next Ironman. This was an athlete with average experience in long races,  that would be doing his second Ironman, the first being completed in less than 11 hours, and for this race in particular, wanted to break the barrier of 10.30.

From using our plans and have trained The Method, it is expected that some basic concepts be learned in training are well used in races. Be it practical as is the case, there is evidence on the effort and progressive pace, using specific techniques in cycling and race that is the mental part. This is developed using the ability to forget the perception of effort, have concentration and self-awareness of your body. Determining which decisions to make when something does not occur as expected, which usually happens in a long race, as after 10h + is a long time for everything to turn out perfect.

Now we will go into detail about which strategy to use. What factors do you need to consider in running the race with your full potential? Below are some of them and start defining your strategy in training!


Setting your goals for the Ironman is your first step. What is the reason for participation, to finish a first Ironman or risk everything to have that perfect record and clinch a place to Hawaii?

As an easy analogy, defining a race strategy is no different from financial investment. If you are a beginner, it is advisable not to take risks both to have more experience about the “market” and then think about making riskier decisions that will bring better returns.

In Ironman it is no different; the beginner athlete should always use a safe option because usually to finish the race is already the biggest challenge. See the race as a workout, because that’s exactly what it is for almost all athletes, have two mantras in your head “eating and drinking” and “slow and steady”, it will take you to the end.

See also:  Training: How to Prevent Injuries

An athlete who is looking for a more outstanding result, or better ranking in their category, spot to Hawaii, will inevitably take more risks, as there is an understanding that the results may vary in the race of his life, even the worst of all time in his career as an Ironman athlete. Even if that happens, you know you did your best, ran the risk, after all, you are no longer interested in “just completing,” so missing this is part of the risk and you feel comfortable about it.


 Sport Background

Which sport!?! (if any!) Your practice before starting triathlon has a strong impact on your training strategy. For the beginner athlete, it is a way of looking at “serious” training while gradually evolving physical structure in the other two disciplines. As for the performance athlete, it can change your point of attack on race day.

We had an athlete who signed up for an Ironman triathlon without ever having trained before.  And for being a dedicated person, did not have the patience for slow progress in training, which eventually can lead to an injury. To slow down the athlete,  a session of “trekking” 3-5h of the trails in the area where he lived was included. The only rule was “not worth running,” could just walk fast!

Another example would be the former swimmer doing that even a relatively strong swimming will spend very little energy in the water as compared with an extremely beginner swimmer (eg 10min slower).  The rate for this athlete in swimming interferes little with final result.

Conditions and circumstances for training

Amateur athletes have certain limitations in completing workouts. Be a matter of time, where work and family commitments always has priority, or even for places to train. Cycling is usually the most difficult to train for, especially for athletes who live in big cities. Understand and work with these limitations rather than ignoring them.


Injuries is a problem which is a reality for some of the athletes in our sport, it is important to define the reason why the injuries appear, either strength or excess volume, wrong technique in some disciplines, muscle or slow recovery due to hormonal imbalance (testosterone cortisol, growth hormone).

See also:  10 Tips for a Better Marathon

If you have no problems with injury, continue with your sense of well being and health in mind, as this is your health insurance in the future. But if you have a history of one or more injuries, consider them to define the strategy of your workouts and races.

For example some athletes have a huge chance of getting hurt with high volumes of racing, even at low intensity, in which case you will need to develop your endurance in cycling, doing more volume than an athlete who can run long without problems.

Yet another situation is athletes coming into hormonal problems, overtraining with any increase in volume, and has no muscle or structural damage, in this case, you know your training intensity will be an important base.

Enjoy your training!


ironguides is the leading Lifestyle Facilitation company for athletes of all abilities. We provide coaching and training services, plans and programs, as well training education, health and fitness products to help you learn and live a healthy lifestyle. Come get fit with one of our monthly training subscriptions, event-specific training plans, coaching services, or a triathlon training camp in an exotic location! ironguides also provides Corporate Health services including Corporate Triathlons, Healthy Living retreats and speaking engagements. At ironguides, your best is our business!

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