Setting up an Ironman training timetable – Part II: The basic weekly timetable

Ahh, the basic weekly timetable: what days do I train, and what sport (swim/bike/run) to do. Part I revealed my trimester of training blocks. Now I need a basic weekly timetable to follow.

I’ve put off writing this a few times because I’m still not 100% happy with my basic weekly timetable – but I think that is the point. Laying out a basic weekly timetable is bloody hard and I doubt you can ever be 100% happy with it!

The key for me, and probably the key for every other parent and full-time worker (your full-time work could be parenting!), is to have a regular routine for exercise. Both work and family will expand to fit the space available, so if you don’t reserve space for training, you won’t get a chance to train! There are no ’empty afternoons’ or ‘free mornings’ to slot your training into.

Step 1. The Wife. I sat down with The Wife and we divided the week up. Evenly! Some kid-free time for her, and some kid-free time for me. Here’s what we came up with:


Basically, we get half the mornings each (well, I get 4 and she gets 3), and then we get a couple of week nights each (1 more for her to make up for my extra morning). You can do what you want with the time (sleep, train, go to the movies, or stay home and help out). We’ve been using this routine for over a year now and it seems to work pretty well for us. In fact, I’m writing this now after putting the kids down while The Wife is out at the movies. We’ve become pretty relaxed about the evenings, but the mornings are observed religiously and only a sick babe can break the routine! With this routine in place your partner’s expectations are set, and there are no surprise disappearances (well not too many!)

Step 2. The Family. Next up, slot in the family time. You know, getting the kids to school, getting them fed and bed, swimming lessons and a few other regular routines (like the Friday after-school beach swim – gotta love the Gold Coast!).


Step 3. The Local Tri Club. The next step was to factor in the timetable of the local tri club. After my half-ironman last year, I wrote up a list of “Training Lessons Learnt”. On that list, amongst other crackers like ‘avoid magpies’, were swim technique coaching and joining a tri club. So I joined the tri club. I’ve hit a few sessions but with the injuries I haven’t fully committed. Best to keep my options open though and try to overlap my sessions with theirs as much as possible. Of course, some of their key sessions clash with The Wife’s routine. I’ve tried to remedy this a few times with no success so far. C’est la vie! So that gives me:


Step 4. The Work. The next step for most people would be to block out the 40 hour 9-5, (more likely 8-6 with the commute). I’m fortunate to work from home, so the commute is zero, and the hours are reasonably flexible. I can move straight to the next step and slot the training in, and then fit the work hours around the training. Nice!

Step 5. The Training. For my basic week, I want 2 swims, 2 bikes (one of them long) and 3 runs (one of them long), and one day off. Maybe 7-9 hours all up. Now it should be a matter of just picking a sport and sticking it in. Unfortunately there are further complications like keeping the long run and long bike apart, not wanting to run the day after a the long run, trying to fit in my favourite existing sessions (I loved my Friday Hills ride, and my swim/bike brick). I also want to leave room in there to add extra sessions once the 20-week Ironman Training plan kicks in. And if possible for my routine to fit fairly well with whatever 20-week plan I go with. Well, I haven’t chosen my training plan yet, so that’s out the window, but here’s what I’ve come up with and been using this week:


Some notes:

  • Six of the 13 sessions are optional (light red) so I won’t be picking them up until the last 20 weeks.
  • I’ve tried to block out an extra half hour for each session to allow for the faffing about before and after. The swimming commute is the worst.
  • I’m missing both of the tri clubs squad swims which I probably need to do, but they clash.
  • My two rides are on Sun and Mon, leaving a very bike-free week. Not ideal when the key to the Ironman is the bike. The Wed ride might be snuck in more often than not.
  • I haven’t used either of my evening slots for training. This gives me scope for a windtrainer or evening run to up the volume later.
  • Saturday is a rest day. Yay!
  • The remainder of the time, in white, is where I need to find my 40hrs work. It’s going to be tight(er) once the optionals kick in! Boo!

So these seven sessions are the basic routine I’m going to hit over the next 15 weeks until BABY TIME, with maybe a few longer rides thrown in to build a bigger base, and maybe some extra short runs to maintain the calf muscles.

My next step is to build/steal a training plan for the final 20 weeks. That will be Part III.

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