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First half ironman

Hi, I'm stepping up to do my first half ironman in June 2015. I know it's a long way off and I intend to find a 16 week specific plan closer to the time but am wondering what I should be going in the lead up to that. I've done several sprint and Olympic triathlons, and run a slow (2:10) half marathon several times a year but never really had a structure or purpose. I tend to do what I can, when I can which I know won't work for a step up in distance. I know I'm not going to be at a competitive level but I don't want to simply scrape through if that makes sense? Been reading loads of conflicting websites but want advice on how I should be training now and over the winter up until February when I start a specific training plan? i.e training sessions, volume, distance, intensity, weights etc. I'm realistic in that I know I can't spend 15hours a week training. Any help would be great. Thank you Jay


  • Hi I'm the same guess we are doing the same event? If it's like cycling putting the miles in will help and do interval training where you run for say 400m at a fast pace your aiming to achieve and then rest for half the time or distance 200m and keep repeating this should bring your speed on
  • Hi Jay 

    I am the same looking at stepping up and then the following year moving into Ironman distance - there are a lot of conflicting programs out there. I would suggest find one that suits your needs and looks achievable given your time frame. I have found a 16 week plan from the training programs available on here and it seems to suit my lifestyle (albeit even if I tweak it a little here and there for my needs - I've added Yoga for stretching as I'm no spring chicken). I've entered a middle distance back in 93 and it took a lot mind power and effort to complete; as I didn't concentrate on my weakest discipline (swimming and it was an open water river swim with strong current - not great for the weaker swimmer) and nutrition, I felt like because I was training all the time it didn't matter what I put into my body (and boy did I suffer on race day). I've started using the diary on here as motivation as this is key when you're feeling lazy as it kicks your butt!

    Good luck with your training and event



  • Hi, i just started to train for the same. I am not a good swimmer (really bad even), can run a half marathon in 2.10 and cycle for 3,5 hours.

    I started to work on somehting myself. i am taking a 4 week cadence. Sundays are my long training days so that is where is start my training.
    Week 1: 13mile run / rest / bike interval / run 5 mile / swim 45 min / bike 1 hour/ rest

    Week 2: 60 mile bike / rest / run interval / swim / bike interval / 8 mile run / rest

    week 3: 30 Mile bike + 5 Mile run / rest / bike interval / swim / run interval / 10 mile run / rest

    Week 4: Bike ride 60 min / rest / 3 Mile run / 1 hour bike / swim / 3 mile run / rest

    I include 2 strenght training sessions per week. And do specific stretching on rest days also for my back (been operated twice)

    above is just giving an idea for something i now follow for 2 weeks. Distance and type of training you can play with...

    Hope it is helpfull?


  • I'm guessing we're all entering the same event! Its my first 70.3 too and I'm currently researching training plans etc. All I know at this point is that I have approx 10 months to get to the start line and finishing in around 6.5hrs is the goal. I have 2 more events to go this season, will take 1 week off and then the aerobic base building starts across all 3 disciplines from mid October to January.

    Good luck everyone - here's for an injury free training period and successful acheivement of whatever goal you are working towards

  • We all did really well to get a place considering it sold out in 14 minutes!
  • Myself and two friends have also got places we are wolves area if people want to join us for training?
  • Hi, I just completed my first half iron distance last week.  It may not suit everyone but I based my training on Don Fink's half iron intermediate plan (the book has 3).  I especially found the swim workouts useful to focus my swim training.

    The training volume was manageable and I also added in a 1 hour core/strength session on the advice of a PT.

    If you can, I recommend getting as much OW swim practice as possible as this will really help.

    On a final note, I had only done 3 sprints and not quie an oly distance and due to other commitments, I missed a few long rides and runs. Istill finished in 5:39 which I was really pleased with (flat course).  My longest run in training was only 9 miles and I managed about 5 rides of around 60 miles.

    P.s I loved every minute of it and am still buzzing a week later.  On to the next challenge!

  • Thanks for all the replies, some really helpful stuff and nice to know there's lots of people in the same boat

    Good to hear you are still buzzing Sophie, and that's a great time, I'd be very happy with that!

    It's the run at the end I'm dreading, lots of brick sessions I think!
  • Hi, Sophie, don't suppose you have a link or copy of the Don Fink half iron training plan do you please?


  • What is the biggest change when stepping up from shorter triathlons to a 70.3?

  • Looks like were all doing the same 70.3, very happy to have got in just got to get to finish line now! Have only ever done sprint & right now am still spluttering trying bilateral breathing but determined to move up to half ironman. Have so far been sticking to evening training but am trying to switch to early mornings for running am aiming at 2 nights swimming, 2 morning runs, 2 nights conditioning & leaving the weekend for bike. Am planing on only 1 day a week resting is this what others do?

  • gavinpgavinp Posts: 168

    Hi All

    Have any of you thought about getting a coach to help you with creating a specific training plan designed around your requirements (as opposed to a generic one) or ever used a coach to help with specific areas that you want to work on (e.g. swim technique?)

    Just asking

  • Hi Jay

    I had to buy the Don Fink book.  I would copy and post some pages but it's on my kindle!  Wasn't too expensive though and the book has a lot of other useful info such as suggested swim training sessions, heart rate zone training etc.  Def worth a buy!

    I think my best advice would be to be realistic about your training time available and create a plan based on that rather than just following a plan.  I also didn't do any bricks that involved a run of more than 20 mins but found that a long run on a Sun after a bike on the Sat meant my legs were pretty much always tired anyway! I also swapped some speed sessions for a steady run when too tired.

    Good luck and happy training!

  • Also Jared, I'd say the biggest challenge was nutrition and staying focussed on the bike for such a long time in race conditions.

    On the bike, I kept an eye on the clock to maintain pace and ate/drank every 30 mins - practise what works for you in training.  I then had a gel every 3-4 miles on the run.

    Hope that helps!

  • Crap! I was planing to do a half-distance next Summer. Is it just the M-dot events that sell out so fast?

  • I think so.  Plenty of others around. I did the Cotswold Classic which was a great event and good value.

  • DevolDevol Posts: 2

    Hi Guys


    51 year old Scottish fire fighter here. with two years to retire and keep my fitness up I went on a fitness regime 6 months back. I completed a 5k, 10k, half marathon, an aquathon ( 705m open water swim & 5k run) and a sprint triathlon in about 8 weeks.

    ive enjoyed all of it and now want to complete, not compete a 70.3 next year and a full 140 in 2016. that single letter L makes all the difference haha

    My question is, am I aiming to high and is it achievable?

    Any advice and support appreciated

    Good to see im not the only newbie guys.

  • Devol - your goals are totally achievable!  It's just a case of mindset and putting in the training.  My other half is a firefighter and has a lot more time to train than me as he can do it at work.  If that's the same for you, you should have no problems!


  • DevolDevol Posts: 2

    thanks Sophie and well done on your half iron

  • Totally achievable Devol - as per my PM ~ 

    I found a few specific 70.3 programs/training plans at triradar - there is also a winter 70.3 training plan (but I had to tailor it felt it was a bit hard).... 

    Although a newbie - I'd say a tri-club and or a coach is definitely the way ahead - I have joined a club now and it makes a massive difference 

    If anyone is in Mallorca for the IM 70.3 on the 15th May 2015, let me know maybe we can swap training and combine mutual support with our crazy passion!!

    Good luck all - all the best JH 




  • BTW - I put a post up about nutrition called race day breakfast as this seems to be a stumbling block for all newbie's and extremely confusing - anyway as I was losing energy while training I wanted to see what the experts were doing - some great advice on there..... 

  • try not to look into stuff to much, if its your first time you don't want to take the fun and enjoyment away from it all, both training and the event its self, i say this as I'm only doing my first 70.3 in stafford next june also. I've pondered over many different sites and read into a lot of different programmes, a lot of them contradicted each other so i wiped the board clean took the pertinent points i had learnt and I'm just doing my own thing and learning by my self. 

    for example before yesterday i had only ever rid no more than 20 miles on a bike n that was 2 months ago, i went out and done 50 miles in 2 hour 22 mins yesterday. I learnt that im not to far off were i want to be but i need to work upto my longer rides, and i learnt a lot about nutrition but that's mainly because I'm training in cyprus at the moment and the heat takes it toll. 

    so what im saying is the best way to learn is make a mistake and correct it ! 


  • Do a course you'll enjoy in a location you want to see (new or nearby) for 5-8hours!


    there are so many races to choose form i wouldn't get too bogged down. Bever castle in May 2015 could be a great race to start with, easy enough course and very flat all round not too expsive either. but the harder ones are worth doing also...

    depends if you love climbing/descending (bike handling skills win big on long courses) or bolting to the front of the swim or run. all courses has their pros and cons. you need to weigh up what you want from a race!

    i tried mashman as my first, was fun but swim was cancelled. then did Exmoor 70.3, fun but punishing, then did henley half (when it was running) and it was a breeze! all in my 2nd year of triathlon... have a think what you want and look into what caters for you... and most importantly just race with the basics! i raced with a bodge bike, basic kit and loads of training. thats were i succeeded. not buying kit to shave seconds, training/knowledge from other athletes shaves minutes/hours!

  • Another quick question....

    .....Does the order of training sessions make a huge difference?

    I've got the Don Fink program and it looks good but I work shifts...typically 2 long days, then 2 long nights then 4 days off. This doesn't fit in with any training programs I.e Sunday long run falls between 2 night shifts etc.

    Is it ok to swap the order around so, for example, the long run and long cycle are done during my days off and move shorter sessions for after work etc?

    My main concern with this is that my long sessions won't always be exactly a week apart. They could end up being 5 days apart some weeks?

    I'm finding it incredibly difficult to figure it out.

    This isn't made any easier by the fact I've been lucky enough to get into the London marathon in April but then got half itonman in June!!!!

    Done loads of half marathons before but I'm just really concerned how to combine training for both around shift work.....
  • Hi Jay

    The sensible thing to do in your position Is to just accept that a plan written for a seven day cycle won't work for you. Don't stress about it - let's just change it to an 8 day cycle.

    Recovery is the key, so let's schedule that first. Which day of your cycle are you most tired on? Have that as a total recovery day. Guessing the 2nd long night? then the day before that do an easy session if you can - of any discipline.

    So you'll get to your 4 days off rested - The key important sessions for your preparation are the Long bike and long run. Schedule these in for two of the days you have off, and ideally put at least a day between them, if not two days.

    So you could have, over 8 days starting with the 4 days off:

    4 days off:Long ride, recovery ride and swim, Long run, recovery ride and swim,

    2 days on: short turbo (threshold intervals), steady run,

    2 nights on: easy swim, rest day

    8 days, 4 bike sessions, 2 runs, 3 swims. You could add another easy run on alternate weeks instead of the easy swim on the 'nights'


    Hope this helps!


  • Hi jay

    I agree with coach.  I think it's sensible to make sure you have some time between say a hard interval session and a longer endurance session if possible so you're not punishing yourself and getting frustrated as you're too tired to complete the session.

    Also, congrats on London, it will be great run training and you might find your run training can take a back seat after April.  I ran Paris marathon this year and did a half iron in the summer and found that to be the case.  Plus the endurance aspect of marathon training helped psychologically!


  • Thanks Rob and Sophie, that's really helpful, I never even thought about making it an 8 day week makes perfect sense, really appreciate it. Also the idea of easing back on the runs after the marathon is good thinking, maybe blitz the bike and some brick sessions instead.

    Thanks again
  • Yeah, absolutely, your run will be in great shape after London (well, after your legs stop being sore anyway   and so you can then spend 4 weeks focussing on your biking - plenty of easy-steady rides with some harder intervals thrown in at race specific pace You can then have the running tick over with  maybe one steady run a week of 30 mins, and one off-the-bike run where you get to inject intervals at your Olympic run pace

    Hope this helps - keep us updated on your progress!


  • Hi,


    check the Beaver Tri, heard very good things. in central england so easy for many to get to, great loactiona nd flat enough course.


    My first half was the marshman in Lydd, Kent. also very flat and early season opener but often gets swim cancelled so not good prep for any bigger races that you might have


    Enjoy it! dont get too fussy over times/speed ect

  • Hi,

    I have just caught this thread, a bit late I suppose but interesting nonetheless. I have recently signed up for the Staffs 70.3 after competing just a sprint and super sprint end of last year. Having read the posts above, I thought it necessary to sign up for the Little Beaver Event (Olympic Distance) a month before the 70.3.

    The website TriNewbies has some simple but effective training drills for different timescales. I have followed the 20 Week program which gradually increases the distances for 16 weeks before speedwork in the final 4 weeks.

    This is how it looks at the moment:

    Day 1: Swim (1250m) am / Run 30 mins (pm)

    Day 2: Bike (20 mile)

    Day 3: Swim (1250m) am / Run 30 mins (pm)

    Day 4: Rest

    Day 5: Run (60 min)

    Day 6: Bike (35 miles)

    Day 7: Swim am (1250m) / Bike pm (10 mile)

    What do people think? Happy training everybody and good luck with whatever goals you are reaching for!


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