Triathlon Frequenlty Asked Questions

This is an often asked question but the answer is different depending on many individual factors.

No two people are the same, to have a better understanding consider the following and my explanations below.

It is best to complete a middle distance triathlon 6 – 8 weeks before your Ironman. However you need to consider the following

Age -Male or Female -Triathlon experience - rate of recovery, -injury free, how consistent your training has been without sickness – How much you tapered for the middle distance. What training you do between the half distance and the Ironman?

How long have you been in the sport?
The longer you have been swim bike run training and triathlon the closer to the race you can complete a middles distance event without it affecting your Ironman triathlon.
1-2 years add a week

Your rate of recovery will also determine when is best.
You can be cleaver however and work extra hard on the swim and bike and then hold back in the run if you only have 5 weeks to go.
Remember elite Triathletes have a very good rate of recovery and can recover much quicker than age group athletes.

My guide line having raced as a 20 -30 -40 and now a 50 year old and coached many triathletes is the following

20-30 year old 6-8 weeks before (They have great fitness and quick recovery although the run may take longer to recover from than the swim & bike.

30-35 year old 5-6 weeks – Good rate of recovery, usually have the best endurance.

35-40 year old – Usually more experienced with reasonable endurance (marathons etc) although slight delay in recovery and adaption requires a middle distance to be completed 6-7 weeks before the Ironman.

40-45 years old can be at the best they are and can still improve in the Ironman.  Have a good understanding when to back off and when you train hard.

45-50 –Much slower rate of recovery for some this happens at 45 others closer to 50.
7 – 8 weeks before.

50-60+ 8-10 weeks is the best gap between the middle distance and the Ironman to fully recover. You will now lack some speed but be able to keep going a lot longer without slowing down. You are at most risk of injury from running so listen to your body

Male or female
From my experience females tend to recover much quicker than males from a middle distance triathlon. Partly they use their fitness and are lighter and have less of an ego and pace themselves better. Females are often more in tune with their bodies and can react much quicker to feelings of fatigue etc.

If you complete a half distance last year before an Ironman Triathlon and felt you needed an extra week this year you may be fitter and could recover in time for the Ironman. Pacing yourself and sticking to your nutrition plan during you half ironman and having adequate nutrition afterwards every 2 hours you will recover much quicker.

Just because you are doing an Ironman don’t under estimate the training stress level that a half distances will take out of you.
Use the middle distance to experiment with your taper and if successful repeat again for the Ironman
Don’t forget to have a nutrition plan for the run and find out work works and what does not.

All your training between the half and the Ironman should be close to race pace heart rate.
(Please note I make a point that you work to a heart rate because when you taper and the adrenaline is pumping you should naturally go faster)
Avoid long steady rides between the half and the Ironman unless you lacked the necessary build up
In the final weeks it is most critical to adapt to how you feel not be rigid and I must fit in this or that session. Back off if you feel tired do a little more if you feel good so you don’t peak too early

Injury free preventive measures should be considered at all times. Resume training only after your legs are no longer sore form your middle distance.

The more consistent your training has been then you will have built up a solid base of endurance which will help you recover that much quicker between both distance triathlons.


If you started your build up more than 28 weeks before the ironman then complete a middle distance triathlon (70.3) 8-12 weeks before the Ironman.
Bearing in mind you will then have a 3 week taper it gives you

Finding a 70.3 race that is has similar conditions is the tricky part 5-8 weeks before

You can also consider completing your own private middle distance triathlon time trial
Race simulation
Swim 2,000 – 3,000m Time trial at Ironman pace after a 10 minute w arm up.

Within 25 minutes start cycling up 40-60 miles then runs only 5 miles hard.

This will be very good work out and your body will soon recover but more importantly adapt within 3 weeks then with your 2 week taper allow you to be in tip top shape for your Ironman.

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