Plan for off-season training?

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This topic contains 3 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Mat O’Halloran 1 year, 3 months ago.

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    I have used the 10 hour long distance plan, both to do my first Ironman last year, and the recent world championship 2 weeks ago in Oklahoma that it qualified me for.

    My performance in that race auto-qualified me for the 2017 long distance worlds; so my head is now in focus mode for that race. However even though I placed 12th in age, there is a big gap between my time and the first place age group winner. I feel I need to step up both my off season work and the lead up training (particularly the run – I need to work on running).

    I plan to arrange my work/family schedule to increase my training time to a higher amount (either the 16 or 20 hour plans). What should I be working on in the off-season until those plans need to be started?


    Robbie Haywood

    Hi Matthew

    We use the reverse periodisation during the off season, with the Olympic distance a great option for that.

    Training Plans

    It is winter now in Europe / North America. I have purchased the 16 week Iron Distance training plan, but my race is not until summer. What should I do between now and starting the plan?
    We reverse periodise, focusing on quality, developing strength on the bike, swim fitness, and leg speed on the run, while having reduced weekly volume. After improving these areas, we commence our 16 week Iron Distance plan, introducing longer rides and runs as we move into spring and better weather. Training through a European / Northern American winter means short daylight hours, cold and wet weather with more indoor training or unpleasant cold training outside. Depending on your working environment, it is also cold and flu season – not to mention Christmas and New Year commitments. The lower volume quality program maintains our physical and mental health better through this period, our immune system is stronger, and we lay down a strong structure to then overlay distance work on top of. We are then in a good place physically and mentally when commencing the 16 weeks training leading up to our goal race. These two blogs will help explain how we structure a training year, and how we might approach the period before the 16 weeks to our goal race.

    Using Reverse Periodisation for Triathlon

    The Ten Phases of Ironman Preparation

    Hope that helps,



    Hi Robbie,

    Thank you pointing to those two articles. I had however already read them and, while I accept the general principle, don’t understand how to specifically apply it to my situation.

    For instance: in the 10 phases article, the stimulus program is the only phase that gives a duration (4 weeks).
    Brett writes the Olympic program was “short”, he then moved Matt to the Half and then Full distance programs.
    How long did he use these phases, or did he go through the full courses start-to-finish for each?
    Applying that to my training, does that mean I also need to use the Olympic, half and full programs?
    And which workload do I need (the 10 hours, 16 or advanced programs of each)?

    Lastly, as time is precious and I don’t want to waste the winter training the wrong things, are these types of questions better suited to a coaching session rather than follow-along-yourself plans?


    Mat O’Halloran

    Hey Matthew – it’s always difficult to answer the “how many weeks should I focus on this” without full information on the athlete.

    We avoid using the ‘for everybody numeric guidelines’ because our approach is case-by-case.

    Typically, we adjust the duration of each phase, according to reality and the athlete. Some athletes might have more natural speed, so they need to work more on other “systems”. Then others have poor speed, and need to take more time to develop it.

    Then of course, some athletes have more time to prepare for a certain race, while others only have a short time table. Certain athletes will take 2 weeks off during the holidays, so they need some “general conditioning” before starting actual specific training.

    Further more, some athletes should focus more on a particular sport.

    So don’t over think “how many weeks of this” because if you focus on the basics of consistency, simplicity and gradual progression of the load. You will be able to nail your race.

    If planning your year was as simple as doing X weeks of speed – X weeks of strength – X weeks of endurance, then there would be no need for a coach. All athletes could just do their own thing and follow cookie cutter programs.

    So the benefit of a competent and experienced coach is to write a personalized program that follow’s the athlete – not a program the athlete follows 😉

    All the best in your races next year!

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