Having a full time job can actually benefit you in your Ironman training. Effective time-management skills are essential during an Ironman race. The speedy transitions you are forced into all weeklong will carry over to your transitions in the race. Working out for an Ironman is like depositing money in the bank from your job: the more you do it, the more you will have to spend on race day.
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Three Days of Swimming
Because the swim leg only takes up 10 percent of your Ironman it doesn't need as much attention. A good plan would include swim workouts on Tuesday, Thursday, and longer workouts Sunday, with Monday always your day off swimming. If you can get to open water, do so on Sunday, and bring your wet suit and bike. Spin in an easy gear for a few miles, getting familiar with the swim/bike transition. If time allows, you can add a one-half to one-mile easy swim at the end of your Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday workouts. This provides an excellent recovery as the hydrostatic pressure of the water improves muscular circulation while strengthening your respiratory system.
Start With an Easy Bike Spin
A good schedule would be to spin easy on Mondays for recovery after the run workout you will also do on Mondays. Tuesdays are a moderate bike workout. Wednesday is the hardest bike day. It is called a "brick," and it is an interval bike work followed by a run. Thursday is your day off biking. Every other Saturday is your long bike, alternating with long runs. If Saturday is your long run, Friday can be a moderate bike, but take Friday off if the next day is your long bike. Sunday is recovery spinning from Saturday's long ride or run, after your long swim.
Biking at Home
If pressed for time, a stationary bike in your home is an excellent alternative. It has the advantages of always available regardless of time of day or weather -- no drafting, no stop lights and no traffic. Long bike days can be spent while watching TV or movies and can be done with friends and family around you.
A Manic Monday
For running, the hardest day will land on Monday. If you are more advanced, this would be your track or speed workout day. You should not run the day before. Tuesday's running will be recovery jogging in the water after your swim. Wednesday is your bike-interval day followed by a tempo run of five to six miles --the brick workout. Thursday could be: a recovery run in the water after your swim, or 10 times up a 200-meter hill at moderate pace, recovering on the way down. Every other Saturday is your long run. The Friday before your Saturday off running can include a moderate run.
Check Your Fitness Level
Get up early and get your workout in before work so you will not resent interruptions. You will also have extra endorphins for the day. It will also make sleeping easier, promoting your recovery. If you have stairs at work, replace a hard run with a stair workout once a week. Enter triathlon races and a one-half Ironman distance race two months before your full Ironman to see what area you need to work on, as well as to get your mileage in.
To work on hills, drive your bike to a spot between two large hills. Bike up one hill, recover on the downhill, and start up the next hill. Then work the hill hard, and turn around at the top to recover down, and up the first hill. Keep repeating until your time is up. In open water, mark out a space between two buoys about 25 to 50 yards long. Sprint hard between the buoys, and recover on the way back. Repeat until you have finished your one-hour workout.
Out of town with no gym or pool? There are still several exercises you can do to enhance your performance. Body-weight squats, Bulgarian spit squats, burpees and walking lunges will all help your bike and run. Run up and recover down the hotel stairwell 10 times. Pushups and planks will help your swimming. If stuck on a plane, put your hands on the hand rests, elevate your butt off the seat and hold for a minute, repeating three times. Go to the area outside the restroom and do one-legged calf raises, 75 to 100 times each leg. You will be ready to go back to your seat and stretch your calves. For long car rides bring your jump rope. Stretch and jump rope at rest areas.