2009 Ford Ironman World Champion Craig Alexander offers five rules for transforming all your biking, cycling, and swimming training into a championship race:
Rule 1: Practice Makes Perfect
"Be sure to have covered the distance of the course in each of the three disciplines at least twice before race day," Alexander says. You don't have to swim, bike, and then run immediately after one another, but get comfortable with covering the distance of the race in one day.
Rule 2: It's Not All About Cardio
To strengthen his body for the grueling swim, ride, and run, Alexander regularly blasts his quads and hamstrings with incline leg presses before moving on to compounds lifts like squats and power cleans for a full-body workout.
Rule 3: Mix it Up
Aim for two training sessions per discipline per week. "The whole basis of an endurance program is that you do one longish bike, swim, or run a week and then do shorter, harder ones as well." For example, withing swimming, one workout may be longer laps in the pool or a longer, easier swim, the next could be shorter, faster intervals.
Rule 4: Keep Under Control
"Good training equals good racing," Alexander says. "Learn what pace is your race pace and be disciplined enough to stay at that pace."
Rule 5: Stick to Your Game Plan
"They say you can't win it early, but you can lose it early," Alexander says. When race day rolls around—if you think you have a chance of winning—stay close to the front of the pack, but don't obsess over getting ahead. "You want to ration energy. If it's a race like the Ironman, which finishes with a marathon, you need to make sure you have enough energy in store to close up the race with a good marathon."