I started really training for the 70.3 Ironman Dublin in January 2016, I hadn’t committed to it however I knew I couldn’t just make my mind up four months before it (taking place in August) that I was going to do it. After training for two olympic distance triathlons in 2015, I knew I had to start early to ensure I could give it my all, be as prepared as I was going to be and also not completely shock my body with four months of hard training.
Since January, this has basically involved 2 swims a week with each swim usually 2km at a minimum; 3-4 runs a week with a long run building up towards the half marathon distance required in the 70.3 and; a two long cycles at the weekend with one of the cycles being used as a brick session, basically straight off the bike in to a run of around 3 miles. Building up to August, I also planed a couple of half marathons, two olympic triathlons and one sprint during the period and a Gran Fondo (108 mile cycle) again to ensure I was turning up on the day of the 70.3 having been in race conditions, completed a number of triathlons to fine tune transitions and run a couple of half marathons quicker than the 70.3.
Since January I have:
- Ran 700 miles, 96 hours 41 mins
- Cycled 2,278 miles, 145 hours 21 mins
- Swam 86 miles 52 hours 30 mins
One thing I will say about training plans, and I have found this out through marathon training plans and triathlon training plans, no one training plan is right, it has to be right for you, to deliver you to the start line in the condition that you feel will get you to the finish line to either meet a time or simply finish. When I started marathon training it was a training plan to purely get me to the finish line which then developed in to a training plan to try and beat my previous personal best. A training plan also has to work around life and family. Prior to a little person arriving that wasn’t too much of a worry, however post a little person, training has to fit round family and life not the other way, even though mentally it is very easy to put training first.
If I could give anyone advice about training for either an olympic or 70.3 Ironman it would be the following:
- Swim, swim, swim: The only way to become a better swimming is by spending time in the pool or open water. Running is my strongest part of the triathlon, so I can in a way cheat and not focus as much on the running, but swimming is my weakest. If I have a week where I only swim once, I notice it immediately the following week. Putting time in the pool will pay dividends. I should have spent some time doing drills, however as with running, speed work isn’t my strong point. If you want to simply finish and do an ok time, get the time in the pool!
- Swim race practise: If like me structured sessions by yourself aren’t your strong point make sure before your first olympic you have completed a couple of sprint triathlons. This will not only help transitions but it will help with experience of race day swimming, which is always typically faster.
- Time in the saddle: It sounds awful, but if you aren’t doing long cycles normally, you need to spend time on the bike to firstly get the backside familiar with it and second have the experience of cycling for a prolonged period especially for the olympic and 70.3. If your olympic or 70.3 course is flat, that doesn’t mean you can avoid the hills, climbing makes everyone a better cyclist so try and have climbs and flats in your cycles. Before you go out plan your route through either garmin or starva depending on what device you are using to track your cycles. Also complete some sessions where you are pushing yourself for a period of time, for example over 15-20 miles. Before either a olympic or 70.3, race a sprint or olympic where you push yourself on the bike.
- Parkrun: If you dont like speed training, I don’t, go to your local park run. It is a great opportunity to run a 3 mile race as a fast pace. Ideally get your cycle in before, arrive at the park run and literally run, excellent brick session.
- Brick sessions: To get the legs familiar with running after cycling, build in at the weekends a long cycle, approximately 1hour 30 or 1hour 40, with a 3 mile run straight after. Complete the cycle in your tri-suit with the running shoes at the back door, meaning you come home, off the bike, running shoes on and straight out. This will mean the legs will have experience of a straight bike to run.
- Try it: Before the triathlon do a dry run of the distance, not at race pace, but it will enable you to be happy you can do the distance of each individual event one after the other. I haven’t done this for the 70.3 but have completed a 2km swim, 41 mile cycle and 10 mile run in a dry run to give me the confidence I can put the slightly longer distances together on the day.
- Transitions: Plan your transitions, look around everyone else on race day and see what they do. Keep your transition area as simple as possible, only put in it what you need, this will make your transitions easier and won’t tempt and procrastination. For example, if you haven’t got anywhere for gels, tape them to the handlebars of your bike, one less thing you have to think about!