Five half Ironman training secrets that will save your race
Posted Apr 24 2010 7:00am
The Half Ironman, or 70.3, is a tough race. It is a combination of speed and
endurance. Logistically, it can be tough to decide how fast to swim, how to
fuel, how quickly to rush through transition, how to run, and when to make
the final kick. In this article you're going to learn five half Ironman
training secrets that will keep you from making costly mistakes and save
1) The Swim Isn't Much Longer Than Olympic Distance.
An Olympic distance
run is 10K, while a Half Ironman Swim is double that at 20K. An Olympic
distance bike is 40K, and a Half Ironman bike is more than twice that
distance. But an Olympic distance swim is 1.5K, while a Half Ironman swim is
only 1.9K - not even close to twice as long! What does this mean for you? If
you're used to doing Olympic distance triathlons, close your eyes and
picture yourself swimming only an extra 400m. Can you sustain your Olympic
distance pace for an extra 400M? Try it in your Half Ironman training. By
going that fast, you'll come out of the water early and be in a better
position on the bike.
2) Load Up Your Bike In Transition.
A good Ironman transition time, by the
time you get through the changing tents, get your bags, and weave through
transition, is often 3-5 minutes. On the other hand, with proper Half
Ironman training you should be able to have all your fuel for the entire
bike ride on your bike and ready to rumble, allowing you to run straight
from the water to your bike, stopping only briefly to grab your helmet and
shoes. No need to hesitate in Half Ironman transition - you'll save valuable
3) Overfuel on the Bike.
In your Half Ironman training, practice taking in
slightly more calories that you're accustomed to on the bike. The trick is
to get enough fuel and water on board to get you through "minimally fueling"
for the Half Ironman run. We coach most males to take 350-400 calories per
hour on the bike, and females 300-350. To eliminate gastrointestinal
distress, stop fueling about 10-15 minutes to your run transition, and then
fuel with only 100-200 calories per hour on the run - grabbing a gel or
chunk of banana only a couple times.
4) Try A Walk-Run Protocol.
While a marthon or Ironman could use longer
walking periods, a 20:1 ratio of walking to running can work very well in a
Half Ironman. Practice this technique in your Half Ironman training, and
you'll find that the walk period allows your core to briefly cool and for
you to grab a bit of fuel or water without choking. Walk quickly, and return
to running at your previous pace. In the race, your ratio will likely be
running three miles very quickly, then slowing to a walk for 60 seconds.
5) Go Hard the Final 10K. In your Half Ironman training, include a few
progression runs in which you run an aerobic, controlled 10K, then "turn on
the afterburners" and run hard through the second 10K, gradually building to
maximum pace. This should be your strategy in most Half Ironman events.
Mentally, telling your brain to pull that fast running trigger at the
halfway point can reap huge benefits for you. Going out of transition too
hard, on the other hand, can leave you blowing up by anywhere from the 5K to
8 mile mark.
The Half Ironman is tricky, but by utilizing the proper strategies, you can
have a great race, go for a PR, and have a smile on your face at the finish
line. For more tips just like this, along with some free triathlon training
videos and insider Q&A phone calls with the authors of this article, check
out the Rock Star Triathlete Academy at
Ben Greenfield is the Renaissance man of the sport of triathlon.
He's a fast triathlete, a coach, a personal trainer, and much more