Ironman Training – Month 1


The Journey Begins

Month one of training for my first full Ironman (140.6-mile triathlon) is in the books. While the work was familiar, the methods were new and I feel good about my progress so far. Because I have been training for a Half Ironman next week in Santa Cruz, I did not start from scratch. There are a few new things about training for my first Ironman including:

  1. Hiring coach Nick Carling
  2. Using the Maffetone Method
  3. Upgrading my watch to a Polar V800


Getting Schooled

Working with Nick has already been rewarding. Previously I have used a training book to keep me on a schedule and improve incrementally, but Nick has personalized my training plan and scheduled MAF tests to gauge my progress. Even though he is half a world away in Australia he can program a workout on Training Peaks and see how I performed once I upload the data after training sessions. Not only has this kept me accountable for training, it clears up the confusion on how to train and allows me to fit in each session according to my schedule.

Coach Nick Carling coaching athletes before a swim start.

Coach Nick Carling in action.

Including a warm-up and warm-down built into the workout is one of the biggest changes added to my training. Novel concept, right? I always believed these were good ideas, just not enough to actually incorporate them into a workout. Planning for them has changed how I feel afterward and avoided the much-dreaded injuries that arise when the body is not yet ready to perform. I admit, starting and ending my runs with a walk was maddening at first. I worried about the other people passing me on the trail, likely thinking “I remember my first jog.” Thankfully this worry passed and I now enjoy both the ritual and function bookending my workouts with slow movement.

August 14th

Graph showing mile times during the MAF during my first month of Ironman Training


August 21st

Graph 2 showing mile times during the MAF during my first month of Ironman Training


So far I have done two MAF tests running and seen my mile time decrease by nearly 30 seconds (from 09:51 to a 09:25). Given the slow nature of building an aerobic base, I am very encouraged by this progress, which occurred in only one week. I think the junk food binge a day prior to the August 14th test might explain some of this. MAF tests usually don’t happen every week, but I had some equipment malfunctions earlier in the month and could not trust the data from my August 7th test.

Training Peaks schedule for Ironman Training - Month 1

My weekly training schedule generally looks like this:

  • Monday: Bike
  • Tuesday: Swim in the AM and lunch run
  • Wednesday: Bike and Yoga
  • Thursday: Swim in the AM and lunch run
  • Friday: Off day
  • Saturday: Long bike ride
  • Sunday: Long run


I complete almost all my training in the morning starting around 6:00 am, which works well for my schedule. Not only do my 10-hour workdays make evening training close to impossible, but morning workouts are a great way to s



So far I have not implemented the High-Fat/Low Carb approach consistently. Besides a couple few FroYo binges, I did not want to change things up before my Half Ironman next week. Afterward, I will find what feels like a good balance between eating healthy fats and having the energy to maintain my training and lifestyle. I don’t plan on going into full ketosis but will continue to decrease junk food as much as possible.


Ingredients for a green smoothie

Most days I eat at least one salad. My go-to salad is a Kale & Broccoli crunch from Trader Joe’s mixed with blueberries, pumpkin seeds, and a homemade salad dressing. I also either make my own bone broth or drink a mug of store bought broth each day. Ben Greenfield has a great page on everything you ever wanted to know about bone broth, but the gist is this: it makes you feel like a superhero even after a heavy day of training. Drinking green smoothies is also a regular staple in my diet because they are quick and easy.


For now, training is coming along nicely. I have only missed a few sessions due to my lunch runs being squeezed out by work or a brief cold I got last week. Stay tuned next month for the next training log journal.


<— Back to the Intro

Forward to Month 2 —>


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Author: mike

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