Road map to Ironman AZ: Part 1

British despatch rider

If you’ve been following our #triforles training tweets, you already know we’re going full steam ahead.

And even though the race is still 11 months away, it’s never too early to map the route and jot down smart goals to set us on the right path.

So I laid out the key checkpoints on my road map to Ironman AZ to give a big-picture look at how I plan on dominating my goal: to finish Ironman AZ in 12 hours or less.

Here are the races I’ll be competing in this year:

March 24: Tri for Les DIY Olympic Triathlon

Saguaro Lake, as seen from the Butcher Jones Trail

(1-mile swim; 25-mile ride; 6.2-mile run) – We’re ballin’ on a budget, so to save some dough we’ll set up our own underground triathlon just outside of Phoenix at Saguaro Lake. We’ll mark off the distances, set up a transition area, time ourselves and do our best to create a race-like atmosphere (which may involve bribing friends with chicken wings and Busch Light to come out and feign some excitement). It’d be great to have some other racers, so if this sounds like fun, let me know!

August 4: Ironman 70.3 Boulder

Boulder Reservoir

(1.2-mile swim; 56-mile ride; 13.1-mile run) – This is half the distance we’ll be racing in Ironman AZ. Not only does Boulder look gorgeous, but it’ll give us some altitude training and toughen us up a bit. It’s also four months away from the big race in November, so it’ll be a nice metric before we make the final push. I may road-trip it out there and stop to see see what up in the ABQ, biatch?!, and take in some sights from my favorite show.

September 22: Nathan Tempe Olympic Triathlon

Storm Rolling Into Tempe

(1.2-mile swim; 56-mile ride; 13.1-mile run) – A nice race-day refresh in the middle of my Ironman build. This race will also give me a taste of what to expect from the Ironman swim in Tempe Town Lake.

November 17, 2013: Ironman Arizona

(2.4-mile swim; 112-mile ride; 26.2-mile run) – ‘Nuff said.

Now that the markers are mapped out, I know when and where I need to show up to position myself to accomplish my goal.

But this is just part one of the planning process.

I still need to decide on a specific training program to get me ready for the uncharted waters of those longer Ironman distances. That’s part two of the road map.

For now, as I train for the Tri for Les DIY Olympic Triathlon – about two months away – I’ll be fine following the Crossfit Endurance H cycle. This means six days of training per week, comprised of:

  • Two swims (1 interval, 1 stamina)
  • Two rides (1 interval, 1 stamina)
  • Two runs (1 interval, 1 stamina)
  • Two-three strength-training workouts (CFE WOD)

I feel like I have the swim training concepts down. After studying the Total Immersion concepts and reading the book Triathlon Swimming Made Easy, I think Terry Laughlin’s Ironman swimming prescription will serve me well.

However, the bike and the run are completely different ball games.

After reading this article on minimalist Ironman training, and watching this video showing Crossfit athletes dominating an Ironman, I like to think I could scale the Crossfit Endurance regimen for Ironman distances.

But the debate between Long Slow Distance (LSD) training and CFE is pretty lively. And it changes depending on who you talk to.

One of the arguments is that CFE is only beneficial after you have an Ironman under your belt and have already built up a tolerance through LSD training. On the other hand, I’ve read testimonials from athletes who’ve finished their first Ironman races strictly on the CFE program.

There’s a lot of information out there, so it pretty much comes down to who you believe and what makes you comfortable.

My sister is taking the LSD approach because she’s more comfortable with that route to the top. Every athlete needs to approach the mountain in their own way.

For me, I need to interview coaches and do some research. I’d like to hack this on my own – and my gut tells me to go with the CFE approach – but I’m also not too proud to admit when I need some advice.

Over the next couple of months I’ll be researching my training options from both sides of the aisle (LSD and CFE).

If you have any recommendations, references or experiences, please share them in the comments or email me.

Once I decide on my route I’ll post the details, share the options I weighed, and describe how I arrived at the winner.

Update: Read Part 2 of my Road map to Ironman AZ series, with a breakdown of my training program.

– Live every day –


  • This is great stuff Adam, you’ve definitely been doing your research. I’m using your blog as a resource for my Ironman 70.3 training for Austin. Keep up the good work! Looking forward to seeing your results for the Ironman AZ!

    • adamsfuller

      Thanks, man. The research is ongoing but I’m leaning toward a mix of the CFE strategy and concentrating on building the LSD miles moderately on the weekends. We’ll definitely keep you posted. You do the same!