For access to all of our training, gear, and race coverage, plus exclusive training plans, FinisherPix photos, event discounts, and GPS apps, sign up for Outside+.
Welcome to the fifth and final week of our Hawaii From Home workouts, which are brought to you by six-time Ironman world champion turned coach Mark Allen.
What is Hawaii From Home? Thanks for asking!
As athletes prepare for the 140.6-mile challenge—which starts next Monday, Oct. 4—Allen has been providing one key workout each week that is designed to get you ready to tackle next week’s big race week. If you’re interested in checking out previous weeks, then Week 1 was a bike workout, Week 2 was a bike/run brick, Week 3 was a swim, and last week was a hill repeats run.
This week’s workout is a swim-bike-run brick—yes, you read that right! Allen said it’s designed to be done three days out from your race, so for a Saturday race he’d have his athletes do this on a Wednesday. He said: “One of the biggest questions I get asked is what are some key workouts to do during race week and this is my go-to. When you do it, make sure you go in the order listed, do each piece pretty much back to back and do it early in the morning so that you are done with it all by noon at the latest.”
The swim covers 1,500 to 2,000 yards and Allen advises doing it in the open water if you can. He said: “Make sure the first half is moderate effort/pace and the second half is slightly faster, but still not quite as fast as you will be going on race day. The goal here is to keep the swim muscles activated without building up any lactate.”
He strongly advised to keep the swim aerobic in order to activate the fat burning aerobic metabolism that you want to have firing full force on race day. He said: “Ironman is NOT an anaerobic race. Doing fast anaerobic work this close to the race switches your whole metabolism to more carbohydrate burning and away from fat burning, which is not something you want to have happen.”
With the swim done, it’s time to transition to the bike, which again is a moderate effort and should be 90 minutes in duration. You’ll want to focus on a cadence of 85-90 RPM, building your effort through the ride and doing a good portion of it in the aero position. Allen said: “Keep the output fairly steady once you get warmed up and are in your rhythm.”
It’s then time to hit the run, which should be a 30-minute moderate effort, staying light on your feet with your breathing relaxed. He said: “It’s important to keep your breathing relaxed, shoulders down and breathing coming from your belly expanding rather than your shoulders coming up. If you find that you get a side stitch in the race it is usually from fast shallow breathing, so if you do get one, if you can relax your shoulders, slow your breathing rate and breathe from your belly expanding rather than your ribcage coming up, the side stitch will usually subside fairly quickly.”
Once the session is all done, Allen said it’s time to “get your feet up, hydrate, refuel, and rest.”
And if you’re looking for some advice on how to structure those final few days leading into your race, Allen had these words of wisdom: “Two days before a race I recommend taking completely off, then get to bed early that night. The most important night of sleep prior to a race is two nights before it, not the night before. Finally, the day before the race, do a very short swim (about 500 yards), bike about 30 minutes (easy spinning), and run (about 10-15 minutes), just to activate all the muscles. Within each of these sessions do 5 x 10-second accelerations, going from easy up to race pace within each one of those accelerations. They are super short and should not be anaerobic at all.”
Mark Allen’s Hawaii From Home Workout: Week 5
1,500-2,000 yards as: first half moderate effort, second half slightly faster. All aerobic and below race pace.
90 min. ride @ 85-90 RPM, moderate effort, building throughout ride.
30 min. run, all relaxed and moderate effort.