Half Ironman Specific Training

Half-ironman specific training is easier than ironman training but still quite a challenge. A half-IM will take at least four hours for the fastest athletes; thatís almost twice as long as an olympic caliber marathon time. Most age-group triathletes will be looking to finish somewhere in the five to eight hour range. In other words, this is a real ultra-endurance event.

On itís face, half-IM training is pretty simple. Make sure you can swim 1.2miles, ride 56, and run 13. No sweat, right?

The trick in training is to figure out how to make the most of your available time without overdoing it, underdoing it, burning out, or getting injured.

First, letís cover the main points in setting up a schedule for a Half-IM:

  1. Pick your race and provide adequate time to build your fitness appropriately
  2. Create a realistic schedule you can stick to
  3. Plan your weeks around a progressively longer ride and a progressively longer run
  4. Swim at least 3 times per week (1 long, 1 mid, 1 short is the minimum to improve)
  5. Get your sleep, eat well, and listen to your body for signs of distress (injury)
  6. Work on your skills and drills in all sports
  7. Include strength training, stretching, and massage therapy for the supplemental benefits associated with each
  8. Know your training zones!

Additional general rules:

Now that we have those basics, letís break down a typical week of an athlete with 12-14 hours to train.

Monday: off
Reason: recovery
Total time: 0

Tuesday: AM swim 3k distance focus / PM run 1 hr easy with drills
Reason: frequency, endurance / endurance, biomechanical efficiency
Total time: ~2hrs

Wednesday: AM strength session / PM brick: ride 30 moderate, run 2 off bike
Reason: power maintenance and injury prevention / endurance and specificity
Total time: ~2.5hrs

Thursday: AM 3k swim moderate effort with drills / PM yoga/stretching
Reason: frequency, endurance / flexibility, injury prevention, semi-recovery day
Total time: 1.5-2hrs

Friday: AM run 1.5hrs easy-moderate / PM light strength session
Reason: endurance, ME, adaptation / maintenance
Total time: ~2hrs

Saturday: AM ride 1.5hrs with drills, swim 2k easy (or vice versa)
Reason: endurance, neuromuscular training, frequency
Total time: ~2hrs

Sunday: AM ride 3 hrs moderate, run 15 minutes easy
Reason: specificity of training, ME
Total time: 3.25 hrs

Total hours: ~13.25 hrs

Obviously, this is a general schedule. Your mileage may vary.

That's all for now. - Marty Gaal, October 2004