How can you balance training with others and training for an IRONMAN?

Training with other athletes can be a performance enhancer and a performance inhibiter. Here we discuss the best ways of getting the most out of your training buddies while staying on track for your IRONMAN plan?

You have signed up for an IRONMAN, one of the ultimate individual, long-distance, single-day events you can do, but does this mean you have to abstain from your club or squad training environment?

We wrote a blog (points 5 and 6) which do highlight some of the merits of training with a club or friends and not much has changed! We feel the same is still very true. A squad/club/friend environment is somewhere where you can gather more motivation to train and be pushed on that final rep more than you will be able to on your own. These are all really positive reasons for staying with your group and using them for those advantages.

Sometimes your training buddies are the only thing getting you out of bed to the session!

Sometimes your training buddies are the only thing getting you out of bed to the session!

If you look through most training plans, there will be really obvious points where the type of session planned would be achieved better with training buddies, or could be replaced by an equivalent session which is organised outside of your plan. For example, if there is a club track session each week – then go to that instead of following your own track session, almost certainly you will gain as much or possibly more by doing it with others! However, where the purpose of the planned session and the outcome of the group session are different, it may be worth considering missing that group session. Let's say you have a key interval workout to do do on the bike, a Saturday morning, easy coffee ride is probably not the same thing. Or if you have a long steady-state ride to do, but the group usually races up every hill and to each lamp post, again, this would be less comparable and you may find you are better off working through those sessions on your own, or joining the group for only part of the session to get your social fix! Or you could opt to build these different sessions into a cycle of training, something along the lines of: two weeks specific, one week social fun and then one week easy.

Training solo can be boring and no fun. Therefore, with some careful planning and consideration based on your goals, you can have the best of both worlds – the enjoyable group sessions which help with motivation and pushing you a little bit more as well as the specific focus you need for your event. If you find yourself jumping on the group band wagon and attempt to complete your training plan with only group sessions, you may end up going hard on a physiological system which is much more tired than it should be which can quickly result in over training, fatigue or possibly injury.

Use your friends and training buddies as exactly that, training buddies – not race buddies (unless that is the purpose of the session) and trust us, if you stick to the programme while incorporating them, it won't be long before people want to know your secret of getting so fast!

This is one blog in an eight part blog series helping to navigate an IRONMAN. Read the next one here.