Hi Mary Jo,
It looks like you're looking for a training program with distances and wondering how many centuries to do before an IM?
Are you training for a specific event? Have you looked within active or other tri sites for programs that can get you started?
When looking at distance or time, I'd focus on getting high-quality miles/minutes with intensity. When I trained for my first IM I spent too much time in no-man's land, pretending I was putting in the time so it should count. But without intensity, you pretty much train slow to go slow.
Check out a bunch of the articles within active, there are a ton of great resources here.
Sara Cox Landolt
Time is the important aspect of training. The issue with distance is that there are two many external variables such as wind, hills, heat etc that can impact your time but you will still get in the appropriate training stress.
For the athletes that I coach that are hung up on distance instead of time, I have them do one long ride and run a month that is based on distance so they can gain the confidence that they need.
You can get in 2-3 centuries before tapering. But that also depends on your, your training, and your goals.
Greg C. Moriates
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As the others have noted, getting ready for ironman doesn't have a lot to do with the distance of any particular workout. Rather it's the cumulative effect of all the training across multiple weeks. So much of what you do in your training is dictated by the fitness you bring to the table, your racing goals, and what your body can absorb. You can give the same plan to 10 different people and get 10 different results.
Given the challenges of integrating ironman training into everyday life, I strongly suggest that you look at training plans that have specific hourly estimates for each week. This will give you a sense as to whether or not you can make it work within the context of your life. Good luck!