Cutting the goal of an “IRONMAN”, “FULL DISTANCE”, or any other denomination, depending on the brand, is currently part of one of the most sought-after personal projects among the athletic community. For understanding to be easier, I considered the terminology “full” for distance 3800m-180k-42.2k and “half” for the 1900m-90k-21.1k.
The reasons for this challenge to be part of the agenda can be several, always associated with the search for the limit and high sense of overcoming. However, not always those who embrace such a challenge can have a real awareness of what involves preparing and participating in such an event.
Some athletes opt for a self-taught preparation, always risky, but possible. Others seek follow-up and advice from coaches who can help them cross the line, in the hope that the entire preparation process will be more individualized and lead them to a better time.
Training plans, methodologies and ways to frame athletes are many, all probably with some validity, but also certainly with margin of evolution, because there are no perfect preparations. But it’s not the planning itself that I intend to deal with here, it’s what’s right before practice starts.
Regardless of the method, I believe that all coaches should appeal to the good sense of athletes and guide their intervention with a great sense of responsibility when it comes to training someone for long distances, because the longer the distance, the greater the basis and the time to devote to the preparation of the competition in question.
The impulse and high motivation to overcome the challenge can remove some lucidity in the evaluation of the necessary process to get prepared to the match, being the obligation of the coach to guide all evolution to safeguard the health and well-being of the athlete in the first place.
How many athletes have not already approached coaches to prepare them for the mythical 3800-180-42 without having, however, the base considered necessary?
At risk of losing “clients”, but with the certainty that this is the right way and that the degree of responsibility of the coach is above other interests, here is my opinion on ways of approach and possible progressions for an athlete to think about preparing the distance “FULL”.
For athletes without any sporting past, a minimum progression of 4 seasons will be indicated. It may seem like a lot, but in reality, I consider it the minimum recommended.
The first season should be oriented towards the creation of training habits and participation in competitions in the sprint distance at the beginning and experience in the Olympic distance at the end, with the possibility of participating in several races between 5 and 10km, duatlos in the sprint distance, as well as some crossings up to 1500m and “minifondos” up to 60km.
The second season may include several competitions in the sprint and Olympic distance and eventual participation in the first “half” at the end, if there have been no injuries and the competitions in the shorter distances have been well assimilated. Participation in duatlos up to the standard distance will also have a good transfer, and the first experience in the half marathon distance can make sense, such as participation in crossings up to 3000m and “mediofondos” up to 100-120km.
The third season should be oriented to the priority participation in 2 or 3 triathlons in the distance “half”, already with possible incursions in several half marathons, granfondos up to 150km and crossings that can go up to 5000m.
If everything has gone without major problems in the previous three seasons, the fourth season can be fully oriented to the “full” distance, being advised the integration of 1 or 2 triathlons in the half distance and other competitions per segment that can serve as preparation. Participation in a marathon this season is not a requirement, but it can serve to work primarily the race for those most in need and give confidence in distance. When a marathon is integrated into the preparation, it will be convenient for it to take place at least 5-6 months before the main competition.
For athletes already with a sporting past linked to triathlon, everything can be much faster with a progression in two years, assuming that they have competed regularly in triathlons in the sprint and Olympic distance.
For those who already have some experience in the “half” distance, a season specifically oriented to the “full” distance will be enough to adapt.
Of course there are several variants, such as athletes who have been familiarized with triathlon, or have only linked to one or two of the triathlon segments, and there it will be up to the coach to know how to manage the relative load and priority to give to each of them, knowing that the problem is essentially in managing the race, as it can represent greater risks of injury.
And for those who can’t swim or swim too badly? Of course it is possible to participate prepare and participate in triathlons, but care should be important in the selection of the competition. It is always worth recalling recent events related to deaths during swimming, and the association with heart problems that may have been caused by panic attacks. Who started swimming late, will hardly go on to be a good swimmer, and as such, should never facilitate. For this athlete profile, I advise participation in triathlons that allow the use of isothermal fact, with water at temperatures that are not too cold and shaky.
Another aspect to be taken into account and that also appeals to the athlete’s common sense and the coach’s honesty has to do with the willingness to train according to the competitive goal. I’ve seen a little bit of everything in magazines and blogs so-called “specialized”, and again, I believe that anything is possible. An athlete can undoubtedly complete a “full” distance with 8-10h of weekly availability to train, but should not! Given this scenario, even after there has been an adequate progression in training and competitions in previous seasons, it is better to guide competitive participation to shorter distances. Preparing a competition that will take 10-12-14-16h, training 8h a week is a risk, and it is not enough.
Now you should note: if we include in the weekly routine 2 1-hour races, one or two cycling practices that add up to 4 hours, a 1-hour swimming session and a complementary strength or other training, also 1 hour, we arrive at eight o’clock. It’s not enough. I believe this is the minimum requirement for the standard distance.
With 10-12 hours of weekly training and at least one week per month in which there is the possibility of going until 14-16h (holidays / holidays), I already consider it possible for a coach to accept the challenge of preparing an athlete for the “full” distance, provided that the requirements we have just mentioned have been met, in terms of progression and background.
So, fellow coaches, we will continue to help athletes get through these fantastic experiences, but we will do so in a way that they want to cut the goal many times. The experience of preparing for a triathlon should not be seen as a promise, which once fulfilled, they do not want to repeat again.