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10 tips for Celtman! extreme triathlon training

Written by Fiona

August 23 2016

You can read about Lexi, who recently completed the Celtman! Extreme triathlon. She was coached by, Mike Carmody, 25, of Shannagolden, Limerick.

Mike is a recent graduate from the University of Limerick. He is also an experienced runner specialising in 1500m to 10-mile races.

Some of his top performances are: 3rd in the National Community Games Marathon (7k) 2006; 1st in Munster Schools cross country championships 2009; 2nd in the National Junior cross country championships 2009; 1st in Munster U23 cross country championships 2008 and 2011; 1st in Munster Senior cross country championships 2012.

His future goal is to compete in the Olympics marathon 2020. He coaches a range of athletes from 400m track runners to Ironman athletes, as well as people taking on their first 5k race.

Coach Mike Carmody.

Coach Mike Carmody.

Top 10 tips from coach Carmody

1 High volume, low intensity

In order to obtain a good performance at Celtman! it is essential to be extremely efficient aerobically. Therefore the key to any good training programme can be surmised as “high volume, low intensity”.

2 Minimal emphasis on anaerobic training

An individual’s anaerobic capabilities are of minimal concern in such a long event. Therefore anaerobic work is best confined to short max effort sprints on the bike and short hill sprints in running, as well as hill repetitions in both the bike and the run. The short sprints help to prime the neuromuscular system, while the hill repetitions help to build essential leg strength.

3 Train yourself to use fat as fuel

 As the ability to utilise fat as fuel is of such vital importance, it is a good idea to do a significant amount of your training either on an empty stomach in the case of short sessions or in the case of longer rides and runs, to avoid carbohydrate consumption within the session.

However it is essential that your heart rate does not exceed 75% of your max in order to ensure that you are tapping into your fat reserves. Additionally fasted sessions can place strain on the immune system, which means that very often there is a trade off or a balance to be struck between opting to go fasted or to go fueled.

4 Psychology

Psychology cannot be understated and training by oneself can be very beneficial. The 6 to 7 hour solo training rides may seem sole destroying at the time but they can very often be the difference between reaching your goal or not.

Sacrifice the swim

The percentage of time that you will spend in the water in an Ironman race is less than the percentage of time that you will spend in the water in a short distance triathlon. The percentage of time that you will spend in the water during Celtman! is even less again. Therefore, it often pays to sacrifice training time in the pool in order to reap greater gains in the bike and/or the run.

6 Go non-wetsuit

In order the prepare the body and mind for the low water temperatures of Celtman!, it can be a good idea to do a significant amount of swimming without a wetsuit. However, this can place an excessive burden on the immune system, meaning that there’s a fine line to be found.

7 Taper

There is nothing worse than preparing specifically for an event for up to 12 months and then to underperform on the day because you have not tapered properly. Both the body and the mind need to be freshened up in order to get the full benefit from all of the preceding training. A gradual and progressive three-week taper is recommended for an event such as Celtman!.

8 Recovery

It is said that a standard ironman race can temporarily age the body by up to 20 years. Celtman! takes an enormous physical, psychological and emotional toll on an individual. Therefore, somewhere in the region of a six-week period of active recovery is advisable before the resumption of full training can even be considered.

9 Who is suited to doing well in Celtman!?

Aerobic “monsters” who possess vast quantities of slow twitch muscle fibres and who are very good at clearing lactic acid, are the people who are best suited to performing well at Celtman!. This can be ascertained from a standard lactate test.

When should I consider doing Celtman?:

It takes years of physical and psychological conditioning to be able to perform well at Celtman!. Hence, it is not advisable to consider signing up for the race immediately after you have completed your first sprint distance triathlon.

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