Completing an IRONMAN or 70.3 race for the first time is a tremendous achievement. The only catch? How to do it again, but faster. There are multiple levers you can adjust to speed up your time, and most of them simply mean adding more structure to your training.

An Ironman is a bike race with a swim warm-up and a jog to the finish line. About half the race is spent on the bike, so it has the greatest impact on the overall time. Get really fit on the bike and you’ll have a good finishing time. But if you go all out on the bike, you’ll be walking the marathon. You’ll need to find your happy medium.

The swim portion, only takes up about 10 percent of the race so you don’t need to swim a lot to get ready for it. Three swims a week will be enough with the focus being on form – not fitness.  You’ll get a lot faster just by refining your technique. On race day, pace yourself in the swim and relax.

And lastly the run at the end. You’re never going to run “fast” in an Ironman. Even the pros run about 15 percent slower in an Ironman; most will run about 20 percent slower than normal in an Ironman.

Here are seven ways to get faster successfully. Whether swimming, cycling or running, the more efficient you are, the faster you can train and race.

Master Your Technique

While this is probably most important for the swim, it certainly won’t hurt to become more proficient in all three sports. When getting started, many people simply head to a pool to swim laps, jump on their bikes for a ride and start off with some easy runs. There’s a reason the pros look so strong and smooth as they power through the course—they’ve mastered their technique in all three legs. Becoming a more efficient swimmer, biker and runner will help you go faster in your next race.

Start Interval Training

If you want to go faster in a race, you need to go even faster in training. If you want to average a 10 minute mile for your half marathon at the end of your Ironman, you’re not going to achieve that goal if you can only run a 9:30 mile. The same holds true on the bike and in the water. Intervals are shorter, fast efforts with a specific recovery or rest.

Get Stronger

Strength training always has a place in your training program. You can improve your bike performance with added strength, and strength training is an important part of the training program as a way to prevent injury. The improved core strength will also help maintain your form during the later stages of the bike and run in races.

Find a Training Group or Club

A training group or club is most beneficial in the pool, but can also be a huge help for cycling and running. Group workouts will make you faster by building in intervals, but they will also keep you motivated, accountable and push you harder.

Work with a Coach

A good coach can help you improve your technique, come up with tailored sessions and coordinate your program to improve your speed.

To review, the Ironman is a bike race with a swim warm-up and a jog to the finish. Prepare for it that way and you’ll greatly increase your chances of having an Ironman PR. Contact me if you’re looking for a coach or training group to help you train and take minutes off your overall Ironman time.

Train Right, Tri Right!

Coach MJ


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