Making the jump from sprint or standard distance triathlon to an Ironman 70.3 can be intimidating. The total time to swim, bike and run 70.3 miles (113K) requires a proper training plan to become ultra-endurance fit.
Below is a 12 week program with guidelines to follow. There are a number of important aspects to consider beyond the training program which are necessary to achieve a half-Ironman goal. These are outlined in my paper, Training Principles and Issues for Ultra-endurance Athletes, published in Current Sports Medicine Reports 2005.
Important principles to understand:
- Consistency in training is most important with a weekly routine. Each day of the program and its scheduling has a purpose. Stick with it.
- Within the last 6 weeks, several sessions in each discipline should be over distance (beyond the race distance.)
- No need to swim fast but rather safely with confidence – but below the cut off time! Open water practise is a must.
- The longest event is the bike which serves as the means to ingest fuel and hydrate. Practise this in training.
- The half marathon running pace and overall fatigue will be similar to the back end of a marathon.
- Break up the race into these segments: Swim Start, End of Swim, Transition 1, First 10K on bike, Half-Way on Bike, Transition 2, First 5K into the Run, Half-way into the Run, Final 5K.
- Accept poor sleep the night before the event. It won’t affect your performance.
- Review your training the night before the race to build mental confidence and focus on execution.
- Proper fuelling and hydration management can make or break your experience and success rate. You must practise in training.
- Key training in priority order: Long Bikes, Long Runs, Simulated BRICK, Simulated Triathlons, a few Open Water swims ideally with others
- On race day, expect the unexpected and celebrate your health and fitness by racing in the moment. The race is a means to challenge yourself physically and mentally.