Bound for Ironman? The 5 commandments of endurance tri training |

Bound for Ironman? The 5 commandments of endurance tri training

106° West endurance triathlon

What: The inaugural endurance triathlon in Summit County, featuring a half Ironman distances: a 1.2-mile swim on Lake Dillon, a 56-mile road ride to Montezuma and a 13.1-mile run around the lake for a total of 70.3 miles

When: Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016

Where: Dillon Marina starting line

Cost: $145 (quarter distance), $195 (half-Ironman)

Online registration for the triathlon is currently open and the start list is restricted to 2,500 competitors. Price above doesn’t include online service fees and USA Triathlon fees. For more information on registration, training routines and more, see the official event website at You can also follow the event on social media (@106westtri on Twitter, Instagram) for info and updates.


The IronMan intervals

Swim No. 1

400 yard for warm-up

8x75 yards — 25 hard/50 easy

20x50 yards intervals — 10 seconds rest, done as 3 fast and 1 easy

800 yards pull — hard effort

6x25 yards kick — 10 seconds rest, fast

200 yard drill for cool-down

Total: 3,100 yards

Swim No. 2

200 swim, 200 kick, 4x50 yards at 60 seconds for warm-up

8x100 yards swim — 10 seconds rest, steady

200 yards — easy

8x100 yards — 15 seconds rest, race effort

200 yards — easy

8x100 — 20 seconds rest, above race effort

200 yards — easy

Total: 3,600 yards

Bike No. 1 (outdoors)

10 minutes for warm-up

30 seconds — uphill standing, max effort

Coast downhill to start — easy

Repeat 6 times

Recover 10 minutes

Bike No. 2 (studio)

10 minutes for warm-up

40 seconds — medium to large gear, max effort

10 seconds — low gear, recover

Repeat 10 times over 5 minutes

Run (VO2 max interval)

10-15 minutes for warm-up

4 minutes — hard

3 minutes — easy

Repeat 4-6 times on varying terrain

Note: This interval can be modified for biking or swimming.

Swim workouts courtesy of Jaime Brede and coach Marilyn Chychota of Endurance Corner in Tucson, Arizona; bike workouts courtesy of Renee Rogers with Town of Silverthorne; run workout courtesy of Joe Howdyshell with Summit Endurance Academy.

Triathlons aren’t for everyone. But, then again, you aren’t just anyone.


I know that sounds like the start of a cheesy motivational poster, but it’s the truth: racing three different sports in the span of a few hours with dozens — or sometimes hundreds — of fellow competitors elbowing and jockeying and vying for position is no walk in the park. It requires determination, dedication and just a touch of insanity.

And that’s just a “normal” triathlon. For decades, a select portion of triathletes have taken the standard 32-mile Olympic distance and made it even harder, adding mileage for Ironman events and off-road punishment for the popular XTERRA series. Then there are oddities, like the Frisco Triathlon on July 16 that replaces the standard swim leg — easily the most intimidating for the majority of new and even veteran triathletes — with a kayak or SUP leg.

On Sept. 10, Lake Dillon welcomes the inaugural 106 West Triathlon, Summit County’s first (and only) half-Ironman (70.3 miles) that comes complete with a once-in-a-lifetime swim at the lake. Add elevations of more than 9,000 feet from start to finish, and it promises to be one of the toughest, gnarliest  endurance triathlons in the nation and beyond.

In short, triathlons are hot right now, but training for one isn’t the same as training for another. With tri season nearly here, the Summit Daily sports desk met with a few local trainers and pro triathletes to get five commandments for any athlete with an endurance event in the near future. Take it from Jamie Brede, a local XTERRA pro and race series champ with nearly a decade of off-road and endurance racing under her belt: “It is never to late to think about race training. (Now) is perfect timing!”

Rule 1: Make friends with intervals

The biggest hurdle most new endurance triathletes encounter is, well, right there in the name: endurance. Before anything else, you need to prepare your body for the demands of multiple sports spread over several hours and up to 140 total miles for a full Ironman.

“Muscular endurance is always important with any sort of long distance biking or triathlon event,” said Renee Rogers, fitness coordinator for the town of Silverthorne. “There is also a huge mental aspect, and certainly you want to work on breathing techniques (and) visualization. That is very important.”

Training intervals are the best and quickest way to boost your muscular endurance. But, as Rogers says, it takes a combination of physical and mental stamina to get the most from any training regimen. Once you’ve built a workout plan, stick to it, —from the first day of training to the post-race beer and every minute in between.

Rule 2: Think time, not distance

For time eternal, most everyday athletes have built workout programs around mileage. But, there’s a better way of doing things, local high-altitude runner Joe Howdyshell says.

“The goal here is to spend as much time as close to your goal intensity as possible,” says Howdyshell, who recently started Summit Endurance Academy and has worked with fellow local Christena Ward, who took third in her age group at the XTERRA National Championships in February. “I usually see that there hasn’t been enough time spent with the race pace. Most athletes say they’ve been putting in time running, and I ask how much time has been outside of their race pace, pushing their boundaries. It’s often very little.”

In short, pace is more important than miles when you’re training. You shouldn’t ignore distance altogether, Howdyshell says, but he’s found that the trick to surviving a full endurance tri is in how you’re running, not how far you’re running. Again, the mental side of the game.

“Don’t go so hard in the beginning that you can’t go the same pace at the end,” he says of long interval training sessions, which every athlete should work into a program at least once a week. “You want to feel like you’re crushing yourself in that last leg to make sure you’re meeting your goals, and, if you start to hard, you won’t be able to maintain that pace.”

Rule 3: Don’t ignore form

Most new triathletes tend to be strong in one or two areas — say, biking and running — and weak in at least one. It’s the nature of the beast, but Howdyshell says he often sees athletes sacrificing form when they get back in their comfort zone.

For runners, this can mean the difference between strong final time and possible DNF. Because it’s often the last leg of a triathlon, people ignore proper form and try to power their way through the pain, he says, when folks should be spending just as much time thinking about a more efficient and powerful stride. He recommends decreasing stride frequency (aka how much time your feet spend on the ground) when you’re training to make sure a longer stride is second nature.

Rule 4: Transitions make perfect

Along with form, Howdyshell finds that may beginner triathletes ignore transitions when they’re training. He knows from experience: When he started racing, he’d often be neck and neck with a competitor through the opening swim leg, only to watch his well-prepared foe gain a full minute (or more) switching to the bike.

“It’s interesting: When you’re training for a triathlon, you felt that you only have limited time, so you’ll train the swim and the bike and the run and ignore transitions,” he says. “If you take 10 minutes of that every day and run through transitions, you’ll save time on race day. The cost-benefit analysis is in favor of working on transitions, but, in reality, it’s usually the last thing you do.”

This means setting aside the occasional workout to practice full transitions, including wetsuit, biking gear and running gear — everything you’ll need on race day. Believe you me: If the 106 West Tri is on your bucket list, you’ll need a wetsuit.

Rule 5: Eat like you mean it

Training doesn’t end on the water and pavement. Diet is major factor for any training program, but, due to the length of most endurance triathlons, proper diet nearly becomes like a piece of gear.

For Howdyshell, this is why setting aside at least one day a week for longer training routines important. Not only will your body benefit — you’ll also learn how to manage your nutritional needs in the thick of maximum effort.

“It’s very important to be purposeful on long training runs and long training rides to figure out the best nutrition for you,” he says. “Then, don’t change it on race day. Eat the exact same way.”

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