30 min. form &
30 min. 25–200 m
Speed work via 60–90-
second sprints during
30 min. commute.
60 min. easy recovery spin
30 min. Elliptigo
commute to gym as run
substitute with 30–90
60 min. full court
gear with ice.
40 min. intense upper
body circuit: bench press,
shoulder press, pull-ups,
pull-downs, rows & planks.
40 min. intense lower body
circuit: squat, lunge, dead
lift, leg extension, leg curl
90 min. tennis practice.
90 min. tennis practice.
45 min. yoga with
30–45 min. massage
60 min. pool or open water
with 2–5 min. intervals.
90–180 min. hilly bike or
indoor training session with
10–20 min. intervals.
Post-bike ice bath or elec-
90–120 min tennis match.
with ice & topical
90–120 min run with 5–10
min intervals. Post-run ice
bath or electrostimulation
and significantly fewer hours spent swimming,
cycling and running may accomplish similar
aerobic training effects with less time spent
training, while still allowing a triathlete to stay
injury-free and go relatively fast in Ironman.
How could this style of relatively short training actually induce an aerobic fitness response?
Several adaptations to high-intensity interval
training have been observed in studies, such
as enhanced activity of fat-burning enzymes,
higher post-exercise metabolic rate, significant increases in power and oxygen consumption, and most importantly, increased
mitochondrial density, indicating that the
body’s cells are more highly equipped for using oxygen to produce energy during aerobic activity.
In addition, heavy weight training has been
shown to enhance endurance sports economy,
most likely by the large amounts of force produced during weight lifting actually increasing
the amount of muscle that is recruited at relatively lower intensities (i.e., at typical cycling
and running speeds). Weight training can also
improve the ability of the body to withstand or
absorb impact, which can reduce risk of injury
and lower the probability of inconsistent training due to missed days or weeks.
While such short, unconventional training
is probably not capable of building a sufficiently large aerobic engine for a professional Ironman competitor, I set out to discover
whether this type of training would at least
allow for a successful, injury-free Ironman
preparation, a sub-10-hour finish in Kona, and
a hell of a lot more free time.
A SAMPLE UNCONVENTIONAL TRIATHLON TRAINING WEEK. Probably the
most popular example of an unconventional, lower-volume triathlon training protocol is
CrossFit Endurance, but this may not necessarily
fit your schedule or your body, and I certainly
couldn’t arrange it to fit mine. So instead, for a
20-week buildup to Ironman Hawaii, I developed
my own protocol based on four goals: No. 1:
swim, bike and run 10 hours or less each week;
No. 2: run only 1–2 times per week; No. 3: play
a variety of other sports; and No. 4: maintain a
muscular figure by lifting weights.
Above, you will see what a typical uncon-
ventional training week looked like leading up
to Kona. It is important to emphasize that these
are not haphazard or randomly chosen ses-
sions, but were instead selected for their abili-
ty to target each of the body’s speed zones and
physiological intensities throughout the train-
ing week. You will also notice that for planning
purposes, I consider recovery to be a part of
the actual training session or week, and rec-
ommend this approach for enhancing workout
THE RESULT. From a training perspective,
the most significant results noted were far fewer aches and pains—all of which can develop
into chronic repetitive motion injuries. This was
likely due to the majority of running occurring
during tennis and basketball, which resulted
in any pounding or impact being distributed