Mark Allen Coaching
IRONMAN Maintenance Program
What you do for training in the off-season is just as important to having great races as is the training you do during the peak of your the season. Too little and there’s a risk of injury when you return to more rigorous training. Too much and you don’t fully recover during the off-season to be ready for the demands of the next year. Hitting the right blend of consistence and rest is an art, and the payoff of a well-planned off-season.
This is extremely important if you are focused on racing an IRONMAN next year. It’s actually easier to over-train for an IRONMAN than it is to under-train. And that key balance starts with what you do in the off-season. Being ready to tackle IRONMAN training comes from doing just the right of activity in the off-season so that the batteries recharge as well as keeping enough of a base of fitness that the transition back into full training is seamless. That is what you will get with our IRONMAN Maintenance plans!
Which Option Should I Choose?
IRONMAN Maintenance Level One
The Super Recovery Maintenance Program
If you will be focusing on full distance triathlons in the upcoming season, this is the ideal way to use the off-season to be ready. It is what I used to fully recover after a solid season of racing when I knew I would also need to be able to start back completely fresh and charged up to tackle IRONMAN training during the next year.
The key to optimizing this plan comes by setting the starting point of your plan to be at a true recovery level. The trap that a lot of triathletes get into who are focused on IRONMAN is doing too much training, especially in the off-season. So when you set up your IRONMAN Maintenance Level One program, dial back the length of your long workouts in each sport to be roughly 30-50% of what those sessions would be during the peak of your IRONMAN training. This is what will give you the consistency now to be ready for next season as well as to recharge the batteries so that you are fresh and ready to go when that time comes.
The IRONMAN Maintenance Level One plans include 8-workouts per week, or 6-workouts if you decide to forgo the strength sessions. These are two swims, two bikes and two runs per week. That is the ideal amount of consistency to maintain suppleness in your muscles and stimulate your endurance engine just enough to be able to slot right into normal training after the off-season.
IRONMAN Maintenance Level Two
The Transitional Recovery Maintenance Program
When I got to around 6-weeks out from getting ready for my regular in-season training, this is the program I would use to transition up in overall off-season training consistency. There are 11-workouts per week, which continues to afford plenty of time for rest and recovery, yet gradually adds in some additional weekly consistency.
As with all of our Maintenance programs, you can trade out your normal swim, bike and run training for alternatives. If you have a bike ride scheduled on your calendar, feel free to go mountain biking or any other sport that uses legs and glutes. A run can be traded for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Be creative to keep it fresh. The call in the off-season is structure with lots of flexibility!
Again, if you are 4-8 weeks out from when you are going to be ready to start with more structure and intensity with a focus on full distance racing the IRONMAN Maintenance Level Two plans are perfect. They include three swims, three bikes and three runs per week plus two strength sessions, which as in Level One, can be done optionally. And as with all of our Maintenance plans, enter the length of your long weekly workouts in each sport that reflects what you are comfortable doing in the off-season rather than what maybe you are capable of physically. The goal is still recovery!
IRONMAN Maintenance Level Three
The Aerobic Reset Maintenance Program
I used this program anytime during the year when I wanted to keep the consistency of workouts up, but when I also knew I needed a reset in my endurance physiology after an extended period of tempo and speed sessions. It drops the intensity down, but keeps the consistency steady, which is the ideal way to reset your aerobic physiology without losing any fitness.
The IRONMAN Level Three is also ideal for anyone who likes to train fairly consistently throughout the year. I call this my “Lifestyle” Maintenance program as it works for athletes who love to be very consistent throughout the year with their training. It affords recovery, but enables a year round lifestyle of working out. It’s the best of all worlds.
The key to successfully optimizing these plans, as with all the Maintenance plans, it so dial back the length of your long workouts when you set up your program. Again generally I recommend a reduction in those lengths of 30-50% from what you would do normally in the main part of your season. If you were to train for an IRONMAN.
This is important for two reasons. One is that it is the only way to address some extra recovery. The other, and of equal importance, is that building fitness requires varying the training you do throughout the year. By dialing back your volume and intensity for a period, your body will respond even better when you go back to your normal training!
This program includes four swims, four bikes and four runs per week and two optional strength sessions per week. And as with all Maintenance programs most sessions are aerobic with only a small number of tempo sessions sprinkled in to keep your body from getting stale.