Learn by doing! Join our next ironguides The Method training camp in Phuket 2-3 November, 2013 — Clich HERE for more info.

Video from ironguides Phuket Training Camp in 2012

The traditional Laguna Phuket Triathlon, is a well-known event among triathletes based in Asia. It provides a mix of a destination race on the beautiful island of Phuket combined with the challenges of a middle distance course with heat and hills, add to that a party atmosphere and you have a very unique race.


Back in 2010 the organizers have announced an Ironman 70.3 event on the following weekend of the traditional race. This has added spice to the event as now beginners can step up and try the half ironman distance, and this year the race will become a “Challenge” event, same course as an Ironman, but from different organizers and branding. Challenge has a better reputation within the athletes.


Swim (1.9km)

Apart from being one hundred meters longer, the swim lay out is exactly the same as the Laguna Phuket Triathlon.


A beach-run start is always a fun way to begin a race. However, unless you are trying to place in your age group, take this run relatively easy: otherwise you will spike your heart rate and it will take a couple of hundred meters in the water to catch your breath.


The first half of the swim is held in the beautiful waters of Bangtao Beach. There are usually no currents and waves which makes the first part of the swim relatively easy.
Then you run another 100 meters across the beach to dive into the resort’s lagoon. This is a challenge since the ocean water has a higher density than the lagoon (or a swimming pool), so there is a sinking feeling for the first few hundred meters of the next swim section.

You can simulate this change in training with the following swim set:

Choice warm-up
[3x100m hard with the pull buoy – 10sec rest
3x100m hard without pull buoy – 10sec rest
2x100m very easy recovery – 60sec rest]
X2-3 (do the set above two or three times, depending on your experience)

Swimming with a pull buoy helps you float better. It also changes your balance and technique in the water. When you take the pull buoy off and do another several hundred meters of repeats at race-pace effort, you will feel the difference in terms of how high you are in the water—exactly the same way you feel when you switch from the ocean to the lagoon in the Phuket swim!

Bike (90km)
Once done with the swim, the transition is very straightforward and simple. You will be directed to the mounting line. The bike course is well marked and safe (for Thailand’s standards anyways).
Describing the course can be a challenge. We can’t say it is hilly, since you spend most time on flats or very gentle undulations, however we can’t also consider it flat, as there are two sets of short but very steep hills, the first one is around the 40km mark, while the last set is at the 75km mark, each set of hills last for almost 5km and the downhill’s are just as steep.


It is very common to see athletes walking while pushing their bikes up these hills. To avoid that, you want to have a large cassette (i.e. 27+) or compact cranks.

In terms of fitness, here are two ways to improve your climbing abilities. The first is by climbing more! If you have access to hills, do hill repeats at a hard effort. If you live in a flat area, you can get stronger by riding in a very low cadence, and doing intense and short repeats. You are basically doing leg presses on the bike. See the set below:

Choice warm-up
10-20x [1min at 40 to 50 cadence HARD RESISTANCE / 1min VERY EASY recovery]
Choice cool-down

You can also do the set above at the end of a long bike ride, since it will be very specific to race day.

Run (21km)
It’s a very straightforward run, mostly on the golf course. The golf course’s undulations are not significant. The only special consideration for this course is the terrain, as the mix of grass and dirt road makes it a bit slower compared with a hard surface.


It is important to focus on a very high stride rate and learn how to build your effort as you progress into the run, and to prepare for this we suggest the following set:

Long Run – 90 minutes negative split as:

30 minutes easy at 90 steps per minute

30 minutes moderate at 92+ steps per minute

30 minutes hard at 96+ steps per minute

Since many Asia-based triathletes live in big cities, make lemonade out of lemons by using the treadmill for the set above because it is an excellent training tool. How does a treadmill contribute so much to improved run skills?

In basic terms, running on a flat treadmill enables you to run at the same aerobic load as you do on land, but to run at a faster pace for that aerobic load. Meaning: You can run faster for longer, which means you are training neuromuscular patterns to fire at a rate that equates to a faster run pace. The aerobic training component in either case is the same.

Running at a high cadence is a very specific triathlon technique that focuses on efficiency. You also want to use a mid-foot strike, which helps to achieve the faster stride rate. Ideally you want to run at 90+ steps per minute (counting one foot only). The above session will challenge you with fast sections at 96 steps per minute.


You also want to get used to aiming for a negative split, which means picking up the effort as you progress into the run.

These tips should give you a good idea for the challenges you will face in Phuket.
Enjoy your training.


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