In ShapeMichel Duran

Beginning of the Ironman training season – Good timing to do some fitness tests

In ShapeMichel Duran
Beginning of the Ironman training season – Good timing to do some fitness tests

Lance Watson, LifeSport head coach, has trained a number of Ironman, Olympic and age-group Champions over the past 30 years. He enjoys coaching athletes of all levels. Contact Lance to tackle your first IRONMAN or to perform at a higher level. For more training tips, visit LifeSport Coaching on Facebook or on Twitter at #LifeSportCoach.

Here are the tests Lance is advising.



After a thorough warm-up, swim as hard as possible for 1,000 meters, doing your best to even pace it. Use the time it takes to complete the test to determine a swim pace per 100 meters. For example, if you swim 1K in 18:30, your pace per 100 meters is 1:51. You can use this data to create workouts.


After a thorough warm-up, perform 3 x 100 meter intervals as fast as possible, but with an emphasis on consistency from one hard effort to the next. Recover for 20 seconds between intervals. Your 100-meter training pace is the average of the three hard efforts. For example, three efforts of 1:30, 1:32 and 1:34 would yield a training pace of 1:32. This is a great indicator for anaerobic capacity.



Before you perform this test, you should always be well rested. After a thorough warm-up, the goal is to ride at your best possible effort for 20 minutes. You should walk away from this test feeling like there is no way that you could have gone any harder. Your average power for this ride is slightly higher than your Functional Threshold Power (FTP).
0.95 x your average power for the 20-minute test = FTP

For example, if your observed average power is 250 watts, your estimated FTP is 228 watts. This number represents the maximum power an athlete can sustain for a 45minute to one hour time trial effort. Use this number and compare it to future tests. Check out these alternate testing methods if 20 minutes seems like too much or you’re limited on time.



This is identical to the cycling test except you don’t ride a bike! After a thorough warm-up, run as hard and as far as possible for 20 minutes. This is a brutal, but precise method to establish your threshold pace. Be careful to avoid starting at a pace that’s too fast to sustain and thus slowing down involuntarily near the end. Calculating 95% of your average pace for that 20 minutes is your threshold pace. Your average heart rate for the last 20 minutes of the time trial will be a close estimate of lactate threshold heart rate.


Run 1600m at a hard, controlled effort that you can maintain with good form. Keep each lap consistent and don’t go out too hard! The mile is still a good enough fitness indicator, even for Ironman. Take your 1-mile test pace and add 30 seconds to get your predicted 5K pace per mile. Add 2-3 minutes to determine your long run or easy pace.

Originally from France, I moved to Vancouver, BC in 1997 after falling in love with the city while searching for a training base for a round-the-world athletic expedition. I’m an athlete turned actor, and very much involved in endurance sports. Three times IRONMAN® finisher.