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Ironman Australia – Xavier Coppock’s Age Group Predictions



By Xavier Coppock

There are plenty of newbies racing here which is a really good sign, but also many “repeat offenders” going around again which should be the ones chasing the podiums and slots.

The signing of another 5 years shows healthy signs for Ironman Australia, however has me wondering with the lack of points & prize money available to Pro’s, what sort of race will this be in years to come.

Xavier finishing Ironman Melbourne 2013 as one of the top age groupers himself

Xavier finishing Ironman Melbourne 2013 as one of the top age groupers himself

With only 4 female pro’s yet again and 11 males on the start list, which I doubt all will race anyway, there is just not enough value for the Pro’s who race here when the week after Busso 70.3 has more $$$ and more Kona points available.  Just doesn’t make sense to me.  Having such a Iconic event getting shafted by the organisers is almost unjust.

Any rant over…..Onto the real stuff.

Now, as I said above, with so many newbies racing, there are not that familiar names that I recognise in the start list.  This will be good as apart from the odd stand out, I believe the fields will be rather competitive and the times a fair bit slower than last year.  Then again, I could be wrong.

Male 18 – 24:

Ashleigh McDougall 3rd 2012 should deliver this year with absence of Matthew Burton.
Luke Beauchamp should be right up there also.

Female 18 – 24:

A small field which I am going for Laura Harris.

Male 25 – 29:

Josh Strahorn did 10.22 last year so should push for top position here, it won’t be all his own way with a good sized field and plenty hungry to get to Kona.

Female 25 – 29:

Michelle Duffield by a long way here, a good pedigree and that family always goes well.

Male 30 – 34:

Brad Manczak, the BIG man got to Kona last year and is in the camp.  Jarrod always gets his athletes peaking on the right day.

Ben Squiz (Squires) will lead out of the water, but how long will that lead last for before Scott Hobson takes control on the bike and leads into T2… But how fast does he need to run to capture the “W”??

Smokey: Jarrod Draper, under the careful guidance of David Meade, he could surprise a few in his first start. No pressure though!

Dark horse from Sydney is Owain Matthews. First IM so unknown quantity. He can run though and could post one of the fastest marathons of the day.

Female 30 – 34:

Kacey Willoughby has turned old 😉 and after already securing her Kona spot at Busso, will head into this race relaxed.  I still think those “old” legs will get the chocolates here.
Meredith Hill should podium again.
Cassandra Percival should be pushing the above two for a good portion of the race also.

Male 35 – 35:

Corey Chapman and Marc Rawlings should be the front runners for most of the day in this age group, however with a quality field and the VICARY brothers going to War, anything could happen.

Phillip Townsend, Zane Hopper & Kane Towns should be in contention, however the TEAM PIS mind games might hinder a few in the next few days.

Paul O’Brien should lead out of the water here and be in the front pack on the bike.  Just unsure how many k’s he has in his legs to round out the day.

Female 35 – 39:

Erika Ellis age groups up and is my pick to take the flowers home to mum.  With a 10.13 last year, the other girls should get used to the sight of her behind!

Alison Ferry who finished 3rd last year should be around the mark again and along with Katie Dukes & Tarryn Whitmore.

Male 40 – 44:

This is the age group the I believe will have the fastest age grouper for the day in the men’s.  Like Matty Lewis did in New Zealand and Olaf Kasten did in Melbourne, there is still hope for us young guys getting faster with age..

It is also a red hot field with many guns lining up for the title.  I am leaning towards David Meade, saw him first hand at Shepparton last year run the pants off many include myself.  The guy is tough as nails and can swim/bike and run the house down.

Others to consider:

Matt Koorey – Just knows how to get the job done.
Dieter McDonald – Firstly I didn’t realise he was this old!! He is also form and has been to the big island a few times.
Marcus Smith – 2nd here last year and is ultra consistent.
Bruse Theile – the pressure is on him as his wife has already got a Kona slot and so has Kacey Willoughby (he coaches her) so will be competing along side them at Kona or carrying the bags??
Brian Price will also be around the mark.

Female 40 – 44:

Leanne Southwell is returning as Champion and will salute the chequered flag again first.
Terry Anne Box who finished 3rd will be hoping to get closer but as Southwell swims 50 odd minutes, she will always be a long way ahead.

This is definitely Southwell’s to lose.

Male 45 – 49:

This looks to be a very open field.

Andrew Mildren will give the front runners a big start out of the water again, but how much is too much that he cannot chase down??

Paul Muherin will be around the mark also.

Also a shout out to fellow Western Suburbs Triathlon Club Member Louis Lopex who is competing in his 25th Ironman Australia, hope you have a great day mate.

Female 45 – 49:

Angela Clarke to make it back to back wins….

Male 50 – 54:

In this age group there are 4 out of the top 5 returning from last year so will be another cracking age group to follow.

Stephen Bingham will be looking to be champion again, however Bevan Earnst will be trying to find the 45 sec he lost by last year.

Terry Roberts & Grant Thomas will be looking for revenge and hoping to dish it up to the above two.

Female 50 – 54:

The only one that appeals to me is Janet McAfee who finished 3rd in 2012.

Male 55 – 59:

John Hill here.  He is one guy that I enjoy seeing on the start list as it make my tips a little easier in this age group.

Female 55 – 59:

Judith Golledge will be looking to go one better than in 2012 and should greet the line as the victor.

Male 60 – 64:

Ron Wilson to defend his crown and win this by a long way.

Robert Howitt and Rod Harrod to fill the minor places.

Female 60 – 64:

She has to be Ron’s wife…. Berryl Wilson last years winner, would be great to see her “chick” her hubby!!

Male 65 – 69:

The evergreen Allan Pittman here….not sure if he is really this age or that the die he puts in his hair covers the greys?!?  But he will take the win.

Resutek Thoephile should be on the podium again.

Male 70 – 74:

George Hulse: 12.50 last year…. Has anyone made him pee into a cup??  That is amazing from a guy of that young age.

In the Pro race, I am going for Patrick Evoe & Rebecca Hoschke.  After seeing Rebecca run at Busso, she will be running all the way to the win!  Although the men’s field is not very big I think it will be a good race.  Luke Bell will be trying hard, but I think Evoe has his measure.

I will add that if Bell wins, I believe he will go onto BIG BIG things.. Getting the monkey off the back might be the hard part though.

For Now…


PS… Word just in, Ben the white Kenyan to smash Ched Towns son Kane.

Also, theses are my tips and my views only.  I seem to offend people by writing my blog.  I am not a journalist, nor an expert in this tipping field.  It is more for fun, so if I have left you off and you think you are worthy, don’t worry, I don’t play GOD on race day and influence your race.  Go out there and have fun and remember:



As for my athletes, I have two racing, both first timers… Scott Slater in the 30 – 34 and Ian Spinks in the 45 – 49, have a great day boys and remember to smile at the finish line.  Do yourselves proud!


About Xavier

Xavier Coppock oined the exclusive sub 9 Ironman Club! 2 x Hawaiian Ironman Finisher – 2011 9hr 9min, Triathlete coach. His views are his own!

Xavier’s website and follow Xavier on twitter


Karl is a keen age group triathlete who races more than he trains. Good life balance! Karl works in the media industry in Australia and is passionate about the sport of triathlon.


News & Racing

ITU Moments of 2017: Katie Zaferes Crashes Bike in Yokohama, Drops Glasses, Wins Silver



In this video, USA triathlete Katie Zaferes recalls a couple “mishaps” before her silver finish at International Triathlon Union’s (ITU) World Triathlon Yokohama 2017.

Zaferes and Britain’s Jessica Learmonth crashed during the bike leg, and both recovered quickly.

During the run, she was head-to-head with fellow USA triathlete, Kirsten Kasper, when she dropped her sunglasses. She doubled back to retrieve them to avoid a littering penalty and possible disqualification from the race, before beating Kasper to the finish line.

The two people ahead of them were Bermuda’s Flora Duffy and Britain’s Sophie Coldwell, both of whom began the run roughly 70 seconds before the others. Duffy finished first in 01:56:18. Zaferes caught up with Coldwell, knocking her out of the podium to finish behind Duffy in 01:58:09. Kasper took bronze with a 01:58:17. Coldwell settled for fourth with a 01:58:48 finish.

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News & Racing

Matthew Sharpe Spearhead Canada/USA to historic Mixed Relay Win



Long-striding Canadian Matthew Sharpe saved his best till last to out-sprint the USA’s emerging star Morgan Pearson in a thrilling finish to today’s Triathlon Australia Mixed Relay Invitational at Runaway Bay.

Sharpe, 25 held off his training partner as the pair ran shoulder to shoulder in the closing stages of the inaugural Relay event – the latest addition to the 2020 Olympic program for Tokyo.

The two-day event started with 18 teams – 11 Australian teams and seven internationals from the USA, Canada/USA, Canada, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and Wales – and after two heats on yesterday and a final qualifying heat this morning it came down to an A final of eight teams and in the end two teams – Canada/USA and the USA fought out the finish.

Sharpe, who will race for the Maple Leaf’s in next month’s Commonwealth Games, started the final run leg with a 20 metre lead off the bike as he set off around the Sports Super Centre track with 1.6km to run (after the 300m pool swim and eight-kilometres on the Luke Harrop Criterium bike course).

Pearson, the former US lifeguard and brilliant US College runner (with a 5km PB of 13:36.22), set off after his training mate and had caught him as the pair surged towards the finish shoot.

And when it looked like Pearson may just have enough gas left in the tank, the lanky Canadian surged again to steal the victory for the combined USA/Canadian team with Kevin McDowell (USA), Amelie Kretz (Canada) and Chelsea Burns (USA).

Certainly, an unusual combination of Canada and the USA between the two arch-rivals who rarely, if ever, come together on the sporting field – but this unique format allowed the hybrid foursome to come together under the coaching of Australian Jonno Hall – himself a former Australian champion road cyclist.

“I train with Morgan every day so I know how good he is and what he has to offer so I decided to let him in and then try to outsprint him in the end and it worked this time,” said Sharpe, who admitted the Mixed Team format was a winner.

“It was a great weekend, great racing, great format…happy to get away with the win.”

Pearson had an outstanding team with him with Tony Smoragiewicz, world ranked number four Kirsten Kasper and the talented Tamara Gorman.

Australia No 2 (Gillian Backhouse, Ashleigh Gentle, Ryan Bailie and Daniel Coleman) finished third and were in the hunt all day with Backhouse putting the team in a strong position with both Bailie and Gentle digging deep with superb legs and Coleman hanging on for third with Australia No 1 (Emma Jeffcoat, Matt Hauser, Amber Pate and Steve McKenna) flying home for fourth.

The event, with strong support by Gold Coast City Council’s $3,500 in prize money, will be a regular on the Triathlon Australia event calendar.

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News & Racing

Ironman 70.3 Racine Changes Hands and Repositions as a Short Course Event



The city of Racine, Wisconsin has partnered with Ohio company HFP Racing to announce the Real Racing International Triathlon. The race date, set for July 15th, was originally occupied by an IRONMAN 70.3 event but recently ended their partnership with the city of Racine, Wisconsin.

“Anyone that comes to this event will be impressed…it’s a visual stunner and it will be a race you’ll want to come back to year after year,” said, Shannon Kurek, HFP Racing’s founder. “It’s a major urban setting with the feel of [the Racine] community.”

The race is set for July 15th and is open to licensed professional triathletes and amateur triathletes. There will be a $25,000 purse prize for the professional division in the Olympic distance triathlon.  The event is offering a free individual race entry to all professionals with a valid license card from their home triathlon federation. Early bird pricing for registration ends in March and all registration closes in late June.

The course will start off with a swim in Lake Michigan, followed by a bike ride through downtown Racine and the surrounding communities, finishing with a run along the shoreline of Lake Michigan and through the North Bay and Windpoint communities. The bike and run courses are completely closed.

Kurek was recently interviewed for an episode of the Triathlon BizCast podcast, where he discusses the history of HFP’s relationship with events in Racine, Wisconsin, as well as more promotion on the new Real Racine International Triathlon. That podcast can be found at

Registration to compete in any of the Real Racing International Triathlon events is open and can be found at

For more information about the race, rules and regulations, and FAQs can be found at the Real Racine International Triathlon website at

Resources and things to do in the city can be found on the Real Racine website at

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News & Racing

Super League Triathlon and ITU Sign Memorandum of Understanding



Super League Triathlon (SLT) and the International Triathlon Union (ITU) have announced a pivotal memorandum of understanding (MOU) unveiling a partnership that covers key areas of the sport, with the overarching shared goal of further building triathlon around the world at many levels including youth development, fan building and audience engagement, and general promotion of the sport on a global scale.

The MOU, announced yesterday in Moscow during the European Triathlon Union Conference, sets in motion a partnership that will see SLT and the ITU working together on promoting gender equality, clean sport conforming to the WADA code and ITU Anti-Doping Rules, as well as open communication as key pillars of the cooperation. ITU is also committed to provide guidance in rules development of SLT’s new formats.

Said Michael D’hulst, “We are thrilled to be able to work with the governing body of triathlon so early on in Super League Triathlon’s establishment. We look forward to ensuring safe, fair and invigorating Super League events with ITU, and in so doing raise the profile of the sport.”

SLT will recognize ITU as the governing body of the triathlon sport, coordinating with them and the national federations for all SLT events. SLT will also work with ITU to ensure equality in prize money, contracts and participation of male and female athletes.

“ITU and Super League Triathlon have common goals to safely and efficiently develop triathlon, nurture new talent and provide platforms to showcase great champions globally. By working together to reach these goals and by leveraging one another’s strengths we will efficiently herald in an exciting new era of competition. This MOU represents an important moment for our sport and athletes, but it is only the beginning of what will be a long and fruitful partnership”, said ITU President and IOC Member, Marisol Casado.

The MOU is also designed to ensure that the ITU and Super League Triathlon calendars are regularly discussed to avoid events clashing. “The close alignment of ITU and Super League Triathlon marketing initiatives coupled with the innovation of the Formats and the League will serve to extend the reach of both organisations and bring the potential for greater scope in campaigns as well as through their respective platforms”, said Super League Triathlon Chief Executive Officer, Michael D’Hulst.

Super League Triathlon is a spectator-friendly race series which gives triathlon fans an action-packed and very up-close experience. Fans can follow the best triathletes in the world from start to finish, as the series travels to some of the world’s most spectacular racing destinations throughout the eight-month race season. Super League races are focused on attracting a new generation of audiences with the aim of fostering and inspiring future champions and promoting a healthy lifestyle for the wider community.

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News & Racing

Mixed Relay Invitational now a key in countdown to the Commonwealth Games



Four members of Australia’s Commonwealth Games triathlon team will continue to put the finishing touches to their preparations at this weekend’s innovative Triathlon Australia Mixed Relay Invitational at Runaway Bay.

The Australians – Matt Hauser, Ashleigh Gentle, Charlotte McShane and Gillian Backhouse will be among nine Games athletes from Australia, Canada and Wales who will line up in the 18 teams.

Australia will be represented by 11 teams with Canada, Wales, USA, Canada/USA, Hong Kong, Japan and Korea providing a real international flavour to an event that’s the most recent addition to the Olympic program in Tokyo.

Each individual athlete will complete a 300m swim in the Sports Super Centre 50m Olympic pool; eight kilometres on the bike on the Criterium loop before a 1.6km track run.

Hauser, Gentle, McShane and Jake Birtwhistle (who is in Launceston preparing for the Games) made up the Australian team that won the ITU World Mixed Relay Championship in Hamburg last year.

The exciting addition to the triathlon program will feature for only the second time at this year’s Commonwealth Games (on April 7) after the Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee-led English team who won the inaugural gold from South Africa and Australia in Glasgow four years ago.

Hauser will be joined on the Australia 1 team by the very-much in-form Mooloolaba World Cup winner Emma Jeffcoat and South Australian duo, 23-year-old rising star Amber Pate and another relative newcomer through 70.3, two-time SA Triathlete of the Year Steve McKenna.

Australia 2 will feature Games girls Gentle and Backhouse, Rio Olympian and Glasgow bronze medallist Ryan Bailie and Gold Coast’s Dan Coleman in a team that certainly looks the goods on paper.

Australia 3 will see Wollongong based trio, McShane, recent Abu Dhabi podium finisher Natalie Van Coevorden and latest addition to Jamie Turner’s group in Declan Wilson as well as promising Queensland Under 23 Nicholas Free.

Kirsten Kasper, the 2017 World ranked number four, who was second to Jeffcoat in Mooloolaba, will spearhead the USA team of Kevin McDowell, Chelsea Burns and Morgan Pearson.

Canadian Commonwealth Games athlete Dominika Jamnicky and Emy Legault are the stand-outs in Team Canada while fellow Games representative Matthew Sharpe will join countrywoman Amelie Kretz and US pair Tony Smoragiewicz and Tamara Gorman in the Mixed USA/Canada team.

Two Games representatives Iestyn Harrett and Olivia Mathias will lead the Welsh team that also includes Zoe Thomas and Chris Silver.

Hauser, who was an impressive runner-up to world ranked number four, South African Richard Murray at the Mooloolaba World Cup said the Mixed Relay Invitational was perfect timing leading into the Games.

“We will build this into our taper so it couldn’t be better, said Hauser,

“We’ve got a good 18 teams coming in as well so it’s fantastic preparation for all the guys really and it will be good to see how they’re all shaping up for that Mixed Relay.

“It’s an event that will be at (the Olympics) in Tokyo as well; it’s such a fantastic and exciting event and the Aussies will have a point to prove after winning the World Championships last year and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Hauser’s coach, Gold Coast National Performance Centre coach Dan Atkins admitted the whole reason he believes his young charge got onto the Commonwealth Games team was their strategic plan 16 months out.

“I said to Matt, ‘you know what I think there is an opportunity there Matt to put your hand up … you have raced a lot of relays; you have a lot of experience there and if you keep going out and putting your best foot forward then it will be hard for the selectors not to look at you,’ said Atkins, who knows the inclusion of the Triathlon Australia Mixed Relay will be a perfect pathway for Australia’s younger athletes heading towards future Olympic, Commonwealth Games and World Championships.

“That came off and now it’s a matter of putting his conditioning and race conditioning in place by having those few little hit outs over last weekend and this weekend to hopefully be selected for the Com Games in the relay again.”


The two-day event (with two heats on Saturday 10 am and 11:45 and a Repechage at 8 am the B Final at 10 am and A final at 11.30 am on Sunday) at the Runaway Bay Sports Centre is being supported by the City of Gold Coast with a podium prize purse of $3,500.00 on offer.

Each athlete will compete a full super sprint triathlon of a 300m swim, 8km cycle and 1600m run before tagging their teammate to begin the next leg.

Two females and two males will make up a single team. The women will commence the first leg before tagging onto the first male. The second female will follow before the second male brings it home.

National Performance Director for Triathlon Australia Justin Drew said the concept of a Triathlon Mixed Relay Invitational would give Australian elite athletes a chance to hone their relay skills against each other and to provide up-and-coming development athletes the chance to race against some of the world’s best triathletes, including members of the reigning World Championship team.

“This will provide the athletes with an ideal opportunity to race in what is one of the most exciting events added to the triathlon events calendar,” said Drew, who also praised the support of the City of Gold Coast.

“Our athletes will get the chance to compete in a high-level race situation and hone their skills, which will help develop them for future World Championships, Commonwealth and Olympic Games.”

Australia’s London Olympian and Triathlon Australia Development Coach Brendan Sexton has been tasked with the responsibility of pulling together the event and is excited to get the Mixed Relay to the start line.

“All competition will be conducted within the Runaway Bay Sports Super Centre including the swim in the 50m pool, the cycle on the Luke Harrop High Performance Cycling circuit and run on the athletics track, which will be an ideal venue,” said Sexton.

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Polarised to Pyramidal Training Intensity Distribution: The Principle of Specificity is Key



A new blog post has been a long time coming (we’ve been busy!; me doing some training, work and the addition of a little girl and Prof writing a book), and with Ironman NZ behind us for another year, it’s given me the chance to write something I’ve been wanting to express for some time.

I love a bit of social media interaction. Whilst I’m not the most vocal, I do enjoy keeping an eye on the latest hot topics in the world of endurance sports and Ironman Triathlon. Over the past few months or so, “polarized training” has become a real buzz word in the triathlon training world. Particularly Ironman. But is this really the best way to train when considering an event like Ironman? Here is a spin on it from Plews and Prof.

Training intensity distribution and polarised training

When we refer to training intensity distribution (TID), we are talking about how much of the time we spend in low, moderate and high training intensity zones.

Figure 1: Training zone demarcation using the classic three zone model.

Figure 1 shows a great illustration of the zones we’re talking about from the father on the topic for us, Professor Stephen Seiler, which I’ll use throughout this essay. Have a read of his 2009 paper if you want to really geek out. In a nutshell, there are generally two main models of TID that have dominated the literature. These are namely the polarised (1) and the threshold (2) models of training.  The polarised model was first described within the training performed by the East German system from 1970-80, whereby a high volume of low-intensity training appeared balanced against regular application of high-intensity training bouts (~90% to >100% VO2max). This was partially confirmed in 2004 by Fiskerstrand & Seiler (1), who showed a “polarized” pattern of training also when they explained the training and performance characteristics of 28 international Norwegian rowers developing across the years 1970-2001. This polarised model is said to be described as performing about 75-80% of your training at a low intensity (<2 mM blood lactate), 5% at threshold intensity (~4 mM blood lactate), and 15-20% at high intensity  (>4 mM blood lactate) (3). This training organization contrasts the classic threshold model (~57% low intensity, 43% threshold, 0% high-intensity (4)) of endurance training, whereby large volumes of mid-zone threshold work is thought to be optimal (2). This former study on world class international rowers provided evidence to support the importance of the polarized training model for endurance athletes striving to be the best in the world, and subsequently has been largely adopted by athletes across many endurance sports. (5,6)

Iron distances races: Racing in the black hole

What’s very interesting about the polarized training method as it relates to Ironman, is that most of the research has been carried out in sports where race pace intensity is above the second (“anaerobic”) threshold. Sports like rowing 7 for example, (where much of the TID research has been done), is closer to VO2max intensity. To illustrate, Figure 2 shows an example of the typical intensity breakdown over a 2 km rowing race (split into the three-zone model), where the majority of time spent during the 6-8 min race is above the heart rate associated with the anaerobic threshold. Even in a cycling road race there would be substantial amounts of time spent in the low intensity bandwidth (below the first aerobic threshold, whilst sat in the peloton), alongside shorter times spent above the second threshold (closing gaps, making breaks etc.).

Figure 2: The typical heart rate intensity distribution of a 2 km rowing race. 24% at low intensity (it takes time for HR to rise), 34% at a moderate intensity (still rising) and 42% at a high intensity.

Comparatively, the intensity distribution of Ironman racing is vastly different, with most of the time being spent in the moderate intensity bandwidth. Figure 3 shows my HR distribution during the Taupo 70.3 event in December 2017. From this, its clear that most of the ~4h race duration is spent at a moderate exercise intensity. To take this a step further, we can look at my race for Ironman New Zealand 2017, where there is even more time spent in the moderate intensity heart rate bandwidth (Figure 4).

Figure 3: Time in Zone 70.3 Taupo bike (top: 2 hr 14 min) and run (bottom: 1 hr 18 min). Bike includes 2% low intensity, 72% moderate intensity and 26% high intensity. Comparatively, running includes 0% at low intensity, 54% at moderate intensity and 46% at high intensity.

When looking at Figures 3 and 4, keep in mind that the moderate intensity training bandwidth is quite large (145-160 b.min-1 cycling and 150-165 b.min-1 running). The Ironman distance mostly happens in the low end of this bracket (average and max HR for bike and run respectively = 145/157 and 151/163 b.min-1) while the 70.3 distance occurs near the top (154/161 and 164/176 b.min-1)

Figure 4: Time in Zone for full ironman (2017 Ironman NZ) bike (top: 4 hr 58 min) and run (bottom: 2 hr 55 min). Bike includes 25% at low intensity, 74% at moderate intensity and 0.2% at high intensity. Comparatively, running includes 4% at low intensity and 96% at moderate intensity and 0% at high intensity.

Pyramidal Model of Training Intensity Distribution

More recently, a number of retrospective studies have put forth another model of TID for cycling, (8) running, (9) and triathlon, (10) termed the “pyramidal” model. Here, most training is still carried out at low intensity, however there are decreasing proportions of threshold and high-intensity training performed. This is a model less discussed that many might not be familiar with. Indeed, we often assume that an athlete who is not polarized in their TID must be in the “threshold” model by default. However, published research has revealed this middle-ground model that we need to appreciate.

Exact defining percentage breakdowns of the Pyramidal model have yet to be clearly established, however this general implies ~25-30% and 5-10% of TID at moderate and high intensity training levels, respectively, with the balance being low intensity training (50-70%). (3) As such, within the pyramidal model of TID, we expect to see less training time at a low and high training intensity, and more time at moderate training intensity. From a specificity standpoint, this middle ground training is much closer to the demands of ironman racing (Figures 3 and 4). Thus, when race day approaches, and training sessions become more “specific” and closer to race intensity, it stands to reason that perhaps the Pyramidal model may particularly suit long course triathletes.

Figure 5: 1 week of training (7 January until 13 January). 64% <LT1, 25% LT1-LT2 and 11% >LT2

Figure 5, shows my TID during one week in the month of January 2018 (competition phase) before the New Zealand National Middle-Distance Champs. As we can see, my TID certainly fell in line with the Pyramidal model.

Take home points

For Ironman distance racing, or any sport preparation for that matter, we have to consider the principle of specificity. For Ironman, as we are still working in an aerobic event, building aerobic endurance is of key importance. Thus, however you’re skinning it in your Ironman training, a fundamental principle needs to be an aerobic foundation. Ideally, we should be working within a range of TID, that span across the polarized (80/20) and pyramidal (60/40) models, depending on the phase of the training cycle. For example, early season training might look more polarized, while pyramidal may appear to form, as we get closer to racing.

One final point, it that we must also acknowledge the role of athlete health (11) and the stress that training places on the autonomic nervous system (12,13) when substantial amounts of training time are performed above VT1. Thus, future research may want to consider describing the optimal durations of pyramidal and polarized training phases in the diets of Ironman athletes.



1.    Fiskerstrand A, Seiler KS. Training and performance characteristics among Norwegian international rowers 1970-2001. Scand J Med Sci Sports 2004;14:303-10.
2.    Seiler S. What is best practice for training intensity and duration distribution in endurance athletes? Int J Sports Physiol Perform 2010;5:276-91.
3.    Stoggl TL, Sperlich B. The training intensity distribution among well-trained and elite endurance athletes. Front Physiol 2015;6:295.
4.    Neal CM, Hunter AM, Brennan L, et al. Six weeks of a polarized training-intensity distribution leads to greater physiological and performance adaptations than a threshold model in trained cyclists. J Appl Physiol (1985) 2013;114:461-71.
5.    Laursen PB. Training for intense exercise performance: high-intensity or high-volume training? Scand J Med Sci Sports 2010;20 1-10.
6.    Seiler KS, Kjerland GO. Quantifying training intensity distribution in elite endurance athletes: is there evidence for an “optimal” distribution? Scand J Med Sci Sports 2006;16:49-56.
7.    Plews D, Laursen PB. Training intensity distribution over a four-year cycle in Olympic champion rowers: different roads lead to Rio. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance 2017;In Press.
8.    Lucia A, Hoyos J, Pardo J, Chicharro JL. Metabolic and neuromuscular adaptations to endurance training in professional cyclists: a longitudinal study. Jpn J Physiol 2000;50:381-8.
9.    Esteve-Lanao J, San Juan AF, Earnest CP, Foster C, Lucia A. How do endurance runners actually train? Relationship with competition performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2005;37:496-504.
10.    Neal CM, Hunter AM, Galloway SD. A 6-month analysis of training-intensity distribution and physiological adaptation in Ironman triathletes. J Sports Sci 2011;29:1515-23.
11.    Maffetone PB, Laursen PB. Athletes: Fit but Unhealthy? Sports Med Open 2015;2:24.
12.    Plews DJ, Laursen PB, Kilding AE, Buchheit M. Heart-rate variability and training-intensity distribution in elite rowers. Int J Sports Physiol Perform 2014;9:1026-32.
13.    Seiler S, Haugen O, Kuffel E. Autonomic recovery after exercise in trained athletes: intensity and duration effects. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2007;39:1366-73

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