Double Distance TriathlonTips


Double Distance Triathlon training Tips
4.8 mile Swim 224 mile Bike & 52.4 mile run (double the distance triathlon)

Triple Distance Triathlon training Tips
7.2 mile Swim 336mile bike & 84.4 mile run (triple the full distance triathlon) 

Back to back swim sessions twice in the same day adds to your fitness.
Increases volume, avoids the poor technique that is likely to occur if you cover 5 miles in one swim session.
Use hand paddles on a regular basis to enhance fatigue.

DON’T USE PULL BOUY – more time efficient training & get a more all round work out.
Avoid pushing off hard during swim practice, just turn and swim making it more arm and shoulder emphasis.
If your calf muscles get tight during the double iron swim this is what you may have to do and use your upper body more while relaxing your lower legs.
Don’t stand up during any swim session hold on or tread water, you will be surprised how hard this is, it will make you tougher.
If the Double distance triathlon is in a swimming a pool, it is OK to stand up on race day when at the edge to stop when drinking fluids.

Get a bike fit preferably Reutal bike fit or similar for optiumn performance.
Use a bike that fits you like a glove, not one that is based on your inside leg measurement.
In the ultra scene most experience triathletes have a seat height of 1-2cm lower than recommended for normal cycling for the 224 miles that they ride for 20+ weeks during training before Double Iron Man day.

You need to be able to ride all day without any problems.
We will spend a long time balancing between the saddle and tri-bars/handlebars this fatigues the core muscles beyond belief.
Incorporate core training with a swiss ball.
Bike choice & set up should be at least 95% comfort so aim for a road geometry standard road bars and tri bars as you need lots of different options of positions.
A comfortable bike, sitting more up right because aerodynamics is not as important, this also allows you to absorb food much easier, leaning too far forward or too low will cause digestive shut down and then you risk slowing down or having to stop. Yes you have to deal with fatigue and discomfort but delay this for as long as possible.

A aero position for 224 miles can result in a tight back, this can shorten the hamstrings making running very diffiiclult.
The bike is a really important part and can make or break your chances of performing to the best of your ability on the day.
Good wheels are very important choose lightness rather than aerodynamics.
Get a good combination of bike, light weight wheels and slightly fatter tire for comfort. I have never had a slow Double Distance Bike split from a slightly wider tire.

Always train on a heavy bike, always carry at least 2 bottles even on a short ride, make your bike heavy.
Get use to a slow bike, a sensation that you may experience in the first part of the double distance triathlon cycle section after the 4.8 mile swim or after 200 miles (320km).
Add an extra layer of handlebar tape, this improves cushioning or you can buy one of the several brands of bar tape available that are designed for long sportive riding to give you a little extra comfort.
Replace the forearm pads for new ones for improved support.

Bike time trails are needed not just for the physiological but more importantly the mental toughness required to complete a double distance triathlon. 

Long rides on consecutive training days rather than one long ride is far better. A 90 and an 80 mile ride tricks the body to increase endurance without pushing yourself into over training.
For over training symptoms click on
Even a 15 minute easy run out and back after each run is beneficial.
Complete each run on the same course & if possible take a similar time to complete, compare how your legs were coping. If both runs felt the same then you have paced each ride correctly had good nutrition and have enough endurance for the double.

Your strength training should progress in 6 week blocks - 1-3 times a week.

The biggest mistake I made with my first Double Ironman was to continue weight training up to 2 weeks before.
18-13 WEEKS TO GO - 4 sets of 15-20 repetitions (60 seconds rest)
17-12 WEEKS TO GO - 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions (80 seconds rest)
11- 6 WEEKS TO GO - 4 sets of 20-25 repetitions (20 seconds rest)

My tips below are what myself and others have learnt.
For an Ironman distance triathlon you need to stop weights 3 weeks before your long competition, this gives your body a head start to adjust before you start a 3 week taper. For a double iron distance triathlon stop weight training 10 days before. 

The more different types of fitness you have the more you can draw from during the competition so do not substitute twice a week weights for getting in the miles.

Increase your bike training exponential to swimming and running this reduces the chance of over training and overuse injuries that commonly occurs from increasing swimming and running in endurance triathletes.

Avoid speed work as you will be running during the Double Distance Triathlon (281.2 miles swimming cycling and running)  at least 3 minutes slower than your current fresh marathon.

Do not fit a marathon into your training unless you can run it close to your minute mile Double distance triathlon pace, this is very muscle specific, and running slow is quite hard with less momentum and you are working new muscle groups.
Develop this easy running as you will need them for the 52.4 miles trust me you will not regret it.

Unless you spend 6-8 hours on your feet at work all day time standing up should not be under estimated.
After a long bike go hiking or shopping, you will soon find out how tough it can be.
Run Walk in training breaks up the rhythm, this can sometimes be hard to get going if you don’t practice this in training. If you dont do this in training it will much that much harder during the Double Ironman.

During your build up for the double ironman, racing is a waste of time for anything less than middle distance as it disrupts training and will be at too fast a pace and not relevant.
The double Iron average speed will be a lot slower than you generally do in every day training.
It is vital to regularly work on muscle memory specific fitness relevant for the double distance, you can only do this by training steady and maintain your average pace.
With the many gadgets now available GPS power meters good basic cycle computers make sure your pace is maintained throughout your key longer sessions.
Running hard is to be avoided at all costs as you are in danger of injury.
Long slow running building up slowly over many months will make your very fit.
Last long workout should be done no later than 5 weeks out or if you are doing an Ironman 8 weeks. Let your body absorb all that training and then you will give it time to adapt and be the best you can on Double Ironman day.

Have a variety of foods you simply will not be able to stomach the same foods for a whole day.
Practice digestive nutrition training. (If you need help on this send me an e mail).
You must learn to run out of energy in training to experience the lows of blood sugar levels and more importantly what foods pick you up and how quickly after feeling weak. This is a high risk strategy but can bring great rewards on double iron race day.

If you want a double Iron distance menu of what to have for the whole triathlon contact Mark via his web site.

Learn to go occassionaly go without sleep unless you plan on having a power nap during the double iron.

Read at night or go for a short run or turbo bike. The bladder is a great alarm clock drink plenty during a practise night (not plain water) and you you get up many times complete a light stretch routine drink some more then back to bed & repeat sveral times.

If possible sleep during the day and train late in the night.

Understand which foods keep you wake (caffeine) and which make you sleepy.
Stress noise active mind bright lights & loud or fast beating music all help you keep awake. Make sure that fast beating music does not make you go too hard because you will end up slowing down later.

Ironmate Mark says to himself during the run “Just one more step is one step less”


Work out 1
PM run then bike total time 2-6 HOURS then next day early AM bike then run.
Long easy swim AM mid day afternoon long bike then PM long run, the key is to have a very easy week 5-8 days prior to this almost all day work out.
Key focus is to train the next day while the body is tried and is still in recovery mode.

Work out 2
Train all day with 1-3 hour breaks snacking only between 100 calories per hour.
Train for time not for distance. Train half the number of your average hours you train in a week up to a maximum of 14 hours in one day
Work on percentages
SWIM 20-30% Bike 55-70% RUN 20% -25%
If you train 20 hours a week then this mega work out target time should be 10 hours.
This would therefore be broken down into
SWIM 2-3 hours BIKE 5:30 to 7:00 hours & RUN 2-3 hours.
By over distance swimming you become tired quicker & you get greater fatigue earlier into the cycle and run.
Note the run distance is low as a % because you are at high risk of injury due to double iron distance triathlon training.
Get use to almost training all day.
Mark has helped others complete in a Double distance Triathlon *281.2 miles swimming cycling and running) including several podium finishes for men and women.

You do not need to train twice as much for the double Iron distance but you do need to train longer so double up some of the key workouts.

For the latest interview go to IM Talk 24th January 2011 #246 for my interview about what it takes to complete the Double Iron distance triathlon.

Mark Kleanthous Former British record holder Double the Full Distance Triathlon competitor and coach. sub 24 hours for Double 140.6 miles Triathlon. The distance for the double the full distance triathlon 281.2 miles swimming 4.8 miles cycling 224 miles and running a double marathon 52.4 miles. 

If you need expert advice on how to preapre for a double distance triathlon then click here and tell me more