Building an Ironman: Matty Trautman celebrates victory at Ironman 70.3 South Africa. Photo by Chris Hitchcock.

Since the launch of my online coaching plans we’ve received a lot of inquiries about our different coaching philosophy and the build up we use in training. While we do our best to explain and advise people on how to get the most out of our method and plans, I thought it may be of some help to demonstrate by way of example.

Matty Trautman (IM Wales, IM 70.3 South Africa Champion) is a textbook case of the kinds of training we use. By laying his preparation out for all to see I hope to show how you can integrate the system of training on your way to producing a personal best result:

Matty joined camp in St Moritz last year where we changed a few techniques and honed a couple of things that I thought would be required to do well in the build up to his eventual win at Ironman Wales.

However, this is where we start the learning curve.

After Wales he was on the start-list to do IM Barcelona a few weeks later. Had his tickets booked, hotel paid for and was mentally prepared to race. Physically however, we decided that he hadn’t fully recovered from his maiden win so better to return home, regroup and start planning for the 70.3 in South Africa. Now for fledging pros this can be a very tough decision, so I was very happy that he took the professional option.

From here this is how the build up looked:

Part 1: Recovery

In this period he did only one session a day to keep body ticking over. This was needed to help recover physically after a couple of very tough European races and the Ironman victory at Wales.

Part 2: Lead In Training

We then moved into what we call lead in training.
Here we built the number of sessions back up to normal (usually twice a day) but without the volume or speed. Although returning to twice a day training, the sessions were for much shorter periods than normal.

Part 3: Stimulus Training

Matt then went on a Sutto stimulus program to work specifically on his swim. It’s Matt’s goal to get Top 10 in Kona. He has been told this is totally unattainable if he doesn’t make huge improvements in his swim over the next two seasons.

As his run is fine and his bike is pretty strong, swim stimulus was an obvious choice.
He did stimulus training for 4 weeks and during this period he kept his bike and run fitness ticking over while we drilled his swim. He was putting in to 8-9 swims a week.

Part 4: Short Course Training

We then moved on to an Olympic distance program where we added all his speed work in. Yes, it is early season and no, no mega miles were used as a base.

This phase was short, it was sharp and like many of our new recruits, he also doubted its effectiveness coming from the ‘early season is for the base’ school. We aimed his work towards his first training race of the season – an Olympic distance triathlon. This was to see how his swim was progressing and where he was physically. He smashed the race and totally surprised himself, not by winning, but by how good he felt with the new training.

Reverse Periodisation for Triathlon training.

Part 5: The Half Iron Distance Program

Here we lengthened the bike and run hours, along with the length of efforts. The long run got longer as did the long bike.
His swim workouts stayed the same.
The over distance component was still at a minimum and we started to cut his rest on the faster aspects of the work.

Part 6: Race Preparation Phase

I don’t like to call it a taper as too many people misapply the word, so we refer to it as the Race Preparation Phase.

Within this phase traditional methodology has everybody cutting their distances and resting.

We also rested but didn’t cut any distance of training in any of the three disciplines. Matt still rode at least three hours on the Tuesday before the race and on the Sunday still ran his long run. His long runs are very long, but no effort at all. On Wednesday he did a mid-week brick 5km swim session. The day before the race, he didn’t sit and rest but did a light workout on all three disciplines.

Matt Victory2From 11th to 1st in one year. Matty using the half iron distance program before his Ironman 70.3 South Africa win.

Part 7: Ironman Lead In

After recovering from his victory at South Africa 70.3 he has now embarked on the lead in to Ironman training. The number of sessions is back to normal, with a few added active recovery days. He will do this for 9-10 days until he links up with coach in Gran Canaria.

Part 8: The Iron Distance Program

For the first time Matty will start to do the training that most associate with their early season base work. The longer aerobic components will be built into the program and he will do four weeks of this work.

Part 9: The Iron Distance Program Continued (adapted if necessary)

Once back in South Africa after camp in Gran Canaria we will monitor his recovery from the flight home before continuing with the Ironman program through its duration.

Part 10: Race Preparation Phase

The race preparation phase where we rest but do not cut the distance of training. This final phase leading into our Ironman will include a long run and a minimum 5 hour ride.

He will then race his next Ironman.

Matty’s preparation has been a textbook example of how our squad works in the early season. I just left the gym after watching the Olympic Champ Nicola Spirig run 8x400m on a treadmill and swim 30×10 second efforts on a stretch chord while preparing for her first early season race. We practice what we preach.

We do not overdo the long, over distance work at the beginning of our prep like mainstream triathlon and if you are smart neither will you.

Let’s all watch Matty finish his full preparation and see if he can take on the world’s best and fight for a podium at IM South Africa. The field is stacked and on 2014 form most wouldn’t give him a chance. My thoughts? I don’t need to talk the talk because my business is walking the walk. We’ll see you race day.

To all my followers and customers I hope this example can show you how to get the very best out of the products you have bought from us.

Thank you very much for all of your support.

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