So you have signed up for your half ironman triathlon. Couple of weeks back we did some tests to find out where you are now, then last week I took you through what you could with those tests.
Still up for the Half Ironman?
Of course you are. Booked your flights or accommodation yet? Don't panic - That's for another day.
How are you going to train for this thing? I know, maybe you'll swim 1800m a couple of times a week, go for a 21km run at the weekend and then ride for 90km on Sunday.
Well, you could. And if you are only trying to complete the event, that might get you through... but there is a damned good chance you will end up injured or sick and BORED!
So what are the key half ironman training sessions?
Where are we, 13 weeks out from your Half Ironman... that would be 26 x 1800m swims. Not for me, no thank you!
I like my sessions to be interesting, structured, purposeful and part of a Consistent, Sustainable and Balanced training program.
So what are the key sessions that you should include in your training plan?
Swims - 2-3 times a week - 2000 to 3000m per session consistently
Any less than two sessions and you will stagnate in performance. Two will get you to an swim but three is better. Swimming can help massively with your Cardiovascular fitness... but remember its about what is right for you. A stronger swimmer may be better time spent on their bike or run...
Mix them up... some longer repeats, e.g 400's / 800's, some shorter repeats (yes Triathletes need these too) - perhaps 50's or 75m swims. Always try and include some practicing of good technique in there. If you are not sure what it is get a swim technique session with a proper coach done so you know what to work on.
When: spread them out... don't swim Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday... spread them over the seven days. Swimming is about repetition and teaching the muscles good technique. Consistency!
Run - Tempo intervals
Too easy and you are not working hard enough, too hard and your performance in the session will drop off. So easy to balls this one up. I think of tempo intervals as anything from 8min efforts to 30min efforts. As race season approaches, rest becomes less. Notice I haven't necessarily said speed goes up. These sessions will, if done right, massively improve your run performance come race day.
When: once a week, minimum once a fortnight... but it really depends on the athlete. Through the winter (or traditional base phase) we do more of this and much less of the high end stuff.
Longer ride - building up
When: Once a week, usually at a weekend. This is probably THE key session for half ironman training. It helps with CV fitness, provides you with endurance and develops your cycling prowess! Start with 90min then build up gradually. In the last few weeks before a half, you should be doing these for 3-4 hours. Not sure, ask a coach. One thing to focus on is its not a slow ride... mix it up, throw in some hills, make damned sure you are on the tri-bars for a good length of time. Want me to be more specific... I'll coach you.
Intervals on the bike - on the Tri Bars
Depending on what you are trying to achieve, then these have to be done at least two times a week in addition to your longer ride. No questions. These sessions don't have to last long, they are usually, fairly short with intense intervals and recovery. Intervals range from 30sec up to 8-10min. Its all about sustainability, balance and consistency here. Not sure, think Maximum Sustainable Effort for the duration of the intervals you have in set. If you have 6 intervals and could have done a 7th - you didn't go hard enough... if you die after 4... I believe you may have gone too hard!
So there you have it. Coach Paul's key sessions for a half ironman.
If you thought this was useful please share it to your networks. If you are interested in a training plan set just for you then give us a call.
In the meantime, remember this:
"Triathlon, Half Ironman, is a journey, with lots of possible destinations en route. But it is YOUR journey. Do not be swayed by other athletes, they are not you. You must do what is right for you not what someone else is doing!"