Half Ironman training is very specific and needs to be suitably tailored. 70.3 triathlon is many triathlete’s favourite distance.
It is certainly a great challenge, maintains awesome fitness and keeps you on your toes in terms of training, nutrition, sleep, productivity and effectiveness. If you have a plan that is well executed, it will allow you to still fit in work, training, rest, time for family, friends and travel.
Half Ironman 70.3 racing is typically taken up by two sets of people.
- The “major step up” group who have done a few Olympic distance races and are now ready for the next challenge
- The avid Ironman triathletes who do a few 70.3s a year to keep themselves ticking over and keep their race practice sharp for their main Ironman 140.6 events.
This post will address both groups.
Preparation is key in Half Ironman Training 70.3
Preparation is the KEY to success in Half Ironman 70.3. In sprint distance triathlon, most reasonably fit people can “wing it” and get round the race. Even Olympic distance triathlon can be completed by just doing enough to “get by”. However in Half Ironman racing, this strategy simply does not work. The distance is too great to get by on a couple of football sessions and one weights session a week.
70.3 training and racing is a serious step up in distance, energy requirements, toll on the body and mind.
First create your specific goal. You should know what overall time you are hoping to finish in and break down each discipline into its likely time. From there you can develop a specific training program.
Replicate race day as much as possible during half Ironman training
Set up your training schedule to replicate race day as much as possible.
On race day you will be up early enough to eat adequately, then be plunging into the water and swimming fast.
You will NEED to eat the morning of race day- no matter if you are “not a morning person” or “normally skip breakfast” so the best thing to do is get used to eating in the morning before training if possible and scheduling a few morning swim sessions.
Of course you do not need to be eat as much as you will need to eat on race day but you certainly should be able to stomach a banana and/or cereal or porridge or toast and some fluids.
I have a couple of chapters in my book discussing specific nutritional and hydration strategies. Triathlon 70.3: How to Dominate the Middle Distance Test race pace at least once a month and track your progress.
Through out your training, you can do a couple of tests to predict your race day time and test out how effective your training is right now.
Half Ironman 70.3 swim predictor time
Do 4 x 500 sets. This is a tough session. Do a warm up first (15 minutes). Have 30 seconds rest between sets. The pace per 100m of your final 500m should be your 1.2m time.
This will give you a good indication of how your swim time is going.
Half Ironman 70.3 bike predictor time
First test out what pace you can maintain for an all-out 20-minute effort. Your bike predictor time will be based on a 5-mile run then bike then 5-mile run.
If you are targeting bike split 2:30 or better, do this session once a month.
Run 5 miles, Bike 2:15–3:15 (depending on ability), run 5 miles.
Warm up for 15 minutes. Then ride 2x the following: 40 minutes at 70–75% effort. Then you’ll go right into 20 minutes at 80–85% effort. Total ride time is 2:15.
Then run 5 miles.
If you are targeting bike split 2:30-3:00, do this session once a month.
Warm up for 15 minutes then ride 3x the following: 35 minutes at 70–75% effort, followed by 15 minutes of 80–85% of effort. Total ride time is 2:45. Then run 5 miles.
If you are targeting bike split 3:00 or better, do this session once a month.
Warm up for 15 minutes, then ride 3x the following: 45 minutes at 70–72% effort, and then 15 minutes at 80–85% effort. Total ride time is 3:15. Then run 5 miles.
Practice going into the pain zone and staying there for a while. This trains not only your body and your lactate systems but also your strength of mind to push through and keep going at a certain intensity when it is screaming at you to stop.The body can actually do a LOT more than we think- it is the mind that gets in the way.
Your goal is to have minimal transition time between each discipline and to push the run throughout.
Half Ironman 70.3 run predictor time
For very fit athletes, run the first 1.5 miles steady, then the next 1.5 miles faster and then next 2 miles even faster. This is tough.
It should be!
Most longer distance athletes tend to fall into the trap of doing slow plods or comfortable zone 2 most of the time. You need to ensure you are really pushing it to see great improvements.
For moderately fit athletes, do the run at first half steady state and second half faster.
On top of all this you need to address all the elements of being a champion. Good nutrition, hydration, mental preparation, smart tapering, time management and injury prevention.
What goals are typical for 140.6 Ironman athletes?
If you are a full distance Ironman athlete, you already know you can complete the distance, so this is not your goal. The main point of doing a lesser distance is to sharpen skills, work on speed, technique, mind set and a whole host of other skills that will transition into helping you to smash your 140.6 goals.
If you are an Ironman athlete racing at 70.3 it is extremely important to set specific goals so you get the most out of it and do not waste your time. What are you trying to achieve? a PB overall? A PB swim, bike or run?
Look at your Ironman results- what will make the biggest difference in your results?
Faster swim, bike or run?
Compare yourself against the competition and see where you ranked against everyone else in each discipline.
Make sure you have a specific and measurable goal for each race. Not just a vague desire to improve your time overall.
If you could improve 1% somewhere – what would make the biggest difference to your time. Focus your energies there…
Map out a 90-day plan, book a 70.3 to tie in with this time frame then smash it!
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