The old axiom states ‘failing to prepare is preparing to fail’. In the case of Ironman, this couldn’t be more appropriate. There’s no hiding place on the start line of the Ironman – you’re either prepared for what lies ahead or you aren’t.

An Ironman isn’t a local 5km fun run; you can’t just ‘wing it’. A 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile run in a single event is a huge challenge. Each of those disciplines taken alone would require training, never mind doing them one after the other!

Preparation is fundamental to a successful event, so we’ve put together a guide of how to prepare for your first Ironman. This isn’t a prescriptive training plan – that would depend on your level of fitness, expertise etc, but it will make you aware of considerations and how

Time to read: 5 minutes


Key Points:

  • Understanding the Task and Making a Plan
  • Acclimatising
  • Progression
  • Peaking
  • Tapering
  • Ironman and KYMIRA - A Winning Combination

The old axiom states ‘failing to prepare is preparing to fail’. In the case of Ironman, this couldn’t be more appropriate. Follow our guide to planning your Ironman training programme.

Understanding the Task and Making a Plan

It’s worth taking the time to understand what you’re about to embark on. Depending on where you’re starting, you’ve got a potentially very long road ahead. I say this not to put the fear into you, but to help you understand the level of commitment required to complete an Ironman.

You can’t train for an Ironman on a casual basis – you’ve got to get your body acclimatised to a huge workload. You’ll be looking at a minimum of 10 hours per week of training, split across the three disciplines. As the event gets closer and your ability to cope with training load increases, this is likely to go up. When you factor in work, family and social commitments, you’ll have to start making a pretty disciplined training timetable to ensure you get the work done!

Start by making sure you have enough time set aside in your week. Use days off strategically – so if you don’t work weekends, factor in your longest swims/rides and runs for these times.


Once the training schedule is set, you have to make the workload productive. Given your training volume is likely to increase dramatically, you need to combine the low-level work with injury prevention and strength training.

The most widely-accepted method used to build base-level endurance is a periodised approach [1]. It starts with a low intensity, long duration approach to training. This is where a lot of injuries can occur because it’s a combination of high training volume on a body that hasn’t acclimatised fully to the demands yet. Research shows the injury occurrence across triathlon of all distances is highest in running [2], so taking steps to reduce injury risk is important.

The KYMIRA socks are particularly effective at reducing the foot, ankle and calf injuries associated with running.


Once your body has acclimatised to the volume of training required, it’s time to make the training more specific. This is where the coaching element becomes much more interesting – you’re no longer simply building an engine, you’re refining its capabilities.

When researching the qualities associated with high-level performance in Ironman athletes, the obvious conclusion to draw is that those who perform best are the ones capable of high intensity of output for a long time [3]. Training has to progressively reflect that, so when you have been through an acclimatisation phase of training, your goal should be to look towards building your ability to work at a high intensity.

Whilst in Ironman training volume supersedes intensity in importance, you should spend a lot of time working at higher intensities to improve your cardiovascular capabilities.

You don’t need to go to extremes here – you’re not running yourself into the red zone, but research strongly reports that there are significant improvements in VO2 Max when you spend more time at higher intensities of training [4]. This style of heart rate threshold training has gained more and more popularity in endurance training circles thanks to the rapid improvements in physical performance.

Research proves that the infrared technology in KYMIRA products helps athletes to work more efficiently at submaximal intensities by reducing the amount of oxygen they consume during training [5]. This efficiency makes training at higher volumes and intensities possible.


This is the phase of training when volume and intensity is at its highest. Depending on your ambitions, you may well be committing around 15-20 hours per week to your training, not to mention the additional time spent in the kitchen fuelling that work.

During your peak weeks a training week may look like this…

Swim: 1-2 hours

Bike: 9-12 hours

Run: 4-5 hours

The sheer workload you’re undertaking needs some serious consideration. Your injury risk dramatically increases as your training volume intensity ramps up, so you have to take steps to reduce this.

KYMIRA is a brand synonymous with performance improvement and injury prevention. Using infrared technology that is embedded into the fabric, our products have a measurable and proven impact on injury risk by improving blood flow [6], enhancing flexibility and tissue elasticity. When dealing with the huge physical demands of training, injury prevention has to be a key consideration of the overall training plan.


To a lot of people, tapering is simply a reduction in training volume and intensity ahead of the race. A chance to rest and recover after the long training programme, allowing you to arrive on race day fresh and ready to go.

That’s an overly-simplistic way of viewing the tapering process. Yes, there’s the benefits of the rest and recovery, but there’s also a physiological response to reducing training volume, in particular when it comes to concentration of red blood cells, haemoglobin concentration and haematocrit percentages, all of which are integral parts of the oxygen delivery mechanisms in the blood [7].

Tapering typically lasts around 7-10 days and gives you a chance to physically and mentally rest. It also allows any niggling injuries a chance to settle down ahead of the race.

Ironman and KYMIRA - A Winning Combination

The purpose of this article wasn’t to give you a prescriptive training programme – there’s too many factors involved for that. Instead it was to teach you how to phase your training and what to expect. Ironman isn’t just an event, it’s a life-changing experience!

When you consider the sheer amount of training, injury risk, physical effort and recovery you’ll have to go through in order to train for and complete an Ironman, you need to have every single advantage on your side.

With KYMIRA, you’ve got the perfect performance and recovery partner, where you can benefit from the infrared technology throughout your training and rest. It’ll help you train and perform better recover more fully and reduce your injury risk.

There’s a reason KYMIRA is trusted by many of the top athletes in the world. Find out why yourself.


February 12, 2021 — Stephen Hoyles

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