Ever wondered what goes into training for long-distance triathlons? We spent the day with professional triathletes Tim Don & Ian Dempsey from endurance triathlon club HALO ID, to give you a glimpse into how they structure their training for an Ironman.   

Training as an elite athlete for one discipline is tough, but when you must combine three into an event, planning and preparation become the key to success.  

Breakfast – The alarm goes early, both Tim and Ian are a stickler for timekeeping, getting up early allows for a successful start to the day and the chance to fuel up for a big day of training. This morning it was a mix of granola, yoghurt and fruit with some coffee of course to wash it down and help wake the body up. Breakfast also marks the start of measuring hydration intake, having a Science in Sport bottle prepped with an electrolyte tab makes keeping hydrated really simple. Both Tim and Ian would sip on this throughout the morning.   

First Session – Now the body is fuelled up, it’s time to tackle the first sessions of the day. Every training will be different, and each has a specific purpose, today both Ian and Tim joined up for a technical open water swim session at the nearby Swim Six Hill facility. With the sun beating down, the session was broken down into sighting drills, to improve efficiency in the water, as well as the chance to practice drafting together. With it being such a nice day Tim reminds us that “when the sun is out in a wetsuit you lose more fluid than you think so hydration and fuel are key,” a great insight from the 4-time World Champion. He continues to say, “often I will quickly jump out and grab an Isotonic Gel or a drink as it’s easy to take and is not a big load on my gut.”  

Lunch – Getting ready to go again, both Tim and Ian are fans of starting the recovery throughout the training day, to help aid the afternoon sessions. Straight out of the lake, they are reaching for the Science in Sport Protein Bar, before heading for a full lunch.   

Second Session – After some downtime, refuelling and recovering over lunch, the second session of the day is calling. A recovery ride, with some technical elements thrown in. A lighter day allows for the adaptation from previous hard days to take place, so the aim of the day is to keep the body ticking over without adding too much of a training stimulus. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a need for fuel, both of them pack their pockets with Beta Fuel and load their bikes with bottles for hydration out there as it’s a hot day.   

Recovery – 50km later and back at the Swim Six Hills, the physical training of the day is completed. But, just as when climbing out of the lake, the focus quickly turns to recovery and the next day’s training. Mixing a Rego Recovery Shake whilst packing down the bikes, helps to start rebuilding the muscles and replenishing the glycogen stores. As they both set off for the school run, ensuring they are getting the optimum 20g of protein into their systems within the recovery window, helps maximise all of the effort put in throughout the day.   

Evening – After a lengthy day, spanning over seven hours, it’s feet-up time, enjoy an evening meal. However, this doesn’t mean you can fully switch off, the next day’s training begins then, as Tim notes “it’s important to look at what training is coming up, so we can start the fuelling and hydration from the night before if a bigger long day is next up adding in some more carbs and again hydration is key.” After food is complete, it’s wind-down time with the family. There might be some time for an evening stretch in front of the TV or additional use of the Massage Gun, but as the day draws to a close it’s time to rest, get a good night’s sleep and do it all over again tomorrow.   

The life of a pro triathlete is one of both, excitement, and endurance, as well as a lot of snacking and training! Tim and Ian have been competing at the highest level for years with combined palmares featuring every domestic and international race you can imagine. Although they now combine training, with parenting and coaching the next wave of elite athletes through their HALO ID coaching community. Something they have always preached throughout their careers and now as coaches is that nutrition really is the 5th discipline, when racing for upwards of 8 hours it can be the different between surviving an event and excelling.  

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