Updated: Apr 20
How do I use a half Ironman training plan to complete a half Ironman (Ironman 70.3) distance event?
If you're reading this article, you've probably already decided you want to complete a half-distance triathlon such as an IRONMAN 70.3 event. The best thing you can do to achieve your goal is train smart with the right tools. If you complete at least 85% of a well-built IRONMAN 70.3 training plan, you will set yourself up for a successful event.
Ready to start with a well-built training plan? Enter your email here and we will send you the PDF version of our beginner half ironman training plan for free.
The free plan focuses on consistently training your aerobic system. Your aerobic system takes a long time to develop. You will improve your aerobic fitness and do better in your event by training consistently.
Try to train almost every day, rather than neglect workouts during the week and then cram in big workouts on the weekend to “make up.”
Stay focused on getting your basic aerobic training done, and don’t overdo it in any given workout.
You will experience some fatigue, which is good, but you don’t want fatigue to be excessive. You should feel recovered enough after each day to complete the next day’s training.
Remember, you only get better when you adequately recover from training sessions. Focus on recovery, sleep, nutrition, and hydration. If you want help with any aspects of recovery, you can reach out to us at Paragon Training.
Of course, consult with your doctor to determine if you are healthy enough before you start training.
How long does it take to train for a half Ironman?
To determine how many weeks you need to complete a half Ironman triathlon, consider your current fitness and background.
If you have done a few shorter endurance events, such as a 10k run or a sprint triathlon, then give yourself at least 4 months to train for a half Ironman.
If you’re starting from zero endurance training, then plan for at least 6 months to train for a half Ironman.
If you’ve been consistently doing some kind of endurance training 4-5 times a week for 2 months or more, then you might be able to train for 3 months to complete your half Ironman.
In order to train for a half Ironman in 6 months the most important things you will need are a plan, commitment, and consistency.
Need help deciding how long to train for your half Ironman? Send us a message or sign up following the link above to get your first plan for free.
How many hours a week should I train for a half Ironman?
A typical half Ironman training plan for a beginner will range from 4-5 hours per week at the start of the plan to 8-9 hours per week toward the end of the plan. An intermediate or advanced plan may include up to 15-20 hours per week during big weeks.
Training for a half Ironman primarily requires training your aerobic metabolism. If you’ve never completed a half Ironman or you’ve been training for less than 2 years, then you will benefit by improving your aerobic system.
Plan to train 6 days per week with an “off” day each week for additional recovery.
If you stay in the right training zones during workouts, you should be able to handle this load and it will be a superior stimulus for your aerobic system than only one workout a day or only training 2-3 times per week.
What is a good time for a first half Ironman?
This answer of course depends on many factors, including your level of fitness, age, gender, and weather conditions on the day of the event.
A simple way to estimate your finish time is to take the average speed of your longest swim, longest ride, and longest run and multiply that by the distance of each leg in the half Ironman race.
Swim [2:30min/100m] x [1900m race] = 47min = 0.78hr
Bike [15mph] x [56mile race] = 3.7hr
Run [12min/mile] x [13.1mile race] = 157.2min = 2.6hr
Transition: Guess your time, maybe 4-5 minutes each for total of 8-10min = 0.13hr - 0.16hr
TOTAL: ~7hr 15min half Ironman finish time
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Example Half Ironman Training Plan
Difficulty Level: (1-5): 1
Phase 1: Base - 9 weeks
Phase 2: Build - 5 weeks
Phase 3: Taper + Race - 2 weeks
This plan is designed to help you finish your first half Ironman triathlon.
For every workout, you should start with a warm up and end with a cool down.
Below are suggested warm ups and cool downs for each sport. You can extend the duration of each if you feel your body needs more time to be ready for the main part of the workout.
Swim - 5-10 minutes easy swimming, then 4-6x50yd drills with long rests of 30sec
Bike - 10 minutes easy Z1 spin, then 4x30sec moderate to hard effort up to Z3 effort with 1:30min recoveries, then 5min easy spin before main set.
Run - Do the routines in the activation videos (or similar), then 10-20min easy Z1 jog.
Running activation routine- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6zPsrrbPAQ
Torso activation routine- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TuGnofI07Wg
Strength - 10min easy movement that may include easy swim, bike, or run before to get your muscles warm.
Below are strength, activation, and stretching exercises to do throughout the plan.
NOTE: The videos provided are meant for example purposes and are not meant to replace proper instruction from a certified specialist. If you feel unusual pain or discomfort at any time during these exercises, then stop.
2 rounds of :10 each leg glute bridges
10 each side opposite arm/leg raises from kneeling
20 glute bridge w/ ball squeeze
10 Heel taps (keep lower back flat)
10 each side clamshells
10 adduction/ abduction each leg
Glute bridges- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3X45Y7JehY
Arm/leg raises- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWjH5xgZgyQ
Glute bridge w/ ball squeeze- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_3--r5VzpQ
Heel Taps- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIhqCVDknqI
Glute Activation Routine to strengthen hip abductors. Use a band around the knees or ankles. Complete 10-20 reps of each exercise.
Side walks in half squat
Side walks with legs straight (hips tucked)
"Monster walks" with knees bent. Forwards and backwards.
"Penguin Shuffle" with legs straight. Forwards and backwards.
Glute activation routine- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTFg7L5y6nQ&t=29s
PURCHASE A SINGLE BAND- https://amzn.to/2VeMsER
PACK OF 10- https://amzn.to/2XD0KAB
LUNGES AND HIP BRIDGES
HIP MOBILITY- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRmFiQ6lBn4
DYNAMIC WU- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQ9HGPjY1qs
-Move through each triset in order, then onto the next triset.
-6-10 Reps each movement
-10-15 seconds between each movement
-Complete 1-3 rounds of each triset.
-Increase weight as you get stronger
-1:00 between ROUNDS
3 x 5 Squat jumps w/ no weight- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72BSZupb-1I
Reverse Lunge (6-10 reps each side) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1HLhIZCjvI
Bent over row (Can use DB) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2OdaGOmHlM
High plank shoulder taps https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKVVi6OYNOY
Hip bridge w/ KB on waist- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j--6WPpsG9o
Push up (add weight Vest if you need to)- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-k1CkNGb4U
Pallof press- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2H3tHXPSx6g
HIPS AND GLUTES
Basic foam roller routine- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1c-cHDIBJE
CALF: Stack your opposite leg on top and rock back and forth.
QUAD: Roll hip to knee. Hold on tight spot and bend kee up and down to release.
BACK: Roll mid-back to upper-back w/ arms behind head like a crunch position. Side-to-side between shoulder blades.
IT BAND: Side of leg stopping before the knee. DON'T roll on the actual hip bone.
FOAM ROLLER: https://amzn.to/378bnyG
8-12 Minutes doing basic hip mobility and soft tissue work.
One Option- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NG9qbvAN3gQ
Another Option- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRmFiQ6lBn4
IT Band Stretches- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Cd-gKw7QkA
You can do any number of the below swim drills as part of your warmup for each swim.
BUTTERFLY KICK ON BACK- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lend_Etd_Gc
8-3-8 DRILL- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K827DM3jb_A
STREAMLINE KICK- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRRKrKAkAT8
FINGERTIP DRAG- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LQQQ15NUazc
BUOY DRILL- https://youtu.be/55CSr_Q9_b4?t=10
Ankle band can be used to keep feet together. Use an old bike inner tube and cut it to make a cheap and effective ankle band.
SINGLE ARM FREESTYLE- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0ruyow45WE
CATCH UP DRILL- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I0jai6G7Aag
FIST DRILL- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Me_va9__NU
After each workout, be sure to rehydrate, consume a carb/protein mixture, stretch, foam roll, and take an ice bath if necessary.
Gear and Equipment
Swim Equipment Needed
This is stuff you will use frequently.
FINS (Check sizing)- https://amzn.to/2J8tfBf
PULL BUOY- https://amzn.to/2xOKa6o
PADDLES (Check sizing)- https://amzn.to/2A2RlZh
TEMPO TRAINER- https://amzn.to/2SHQuDZ
RPE = Rate of Perceived Exertion
Scale of 1-10 with 1 being very easy and 10 being very hard.
Zone 1 = RPE 1-2
Zone 2 = RPE 3-4
Zone 3 = RPE 5-6
Zone 4 = RPE 7-8
PHASE 1: Base
GOAL: Build a big engine. To do this, train consistently at basic aerobic intensities for at least 80% of all your training time. Your primary task as a beginner triathlete is to build your basic aerobic engine in all three disciplines. This will enable you to go harder and faster when the time is right during intervals and in the build phase of the plan.
Week 1 - Base
Week 2 - Base
Week 3 - Base
Week 4 - Base
Week 5 - Recover
Week 6 - Base
Week 7 - Base
Week 8 - Base
Week 9 - Recover
PHASE 2: Build
GOAL: Fine-tune your big engine. Train more specifically for your event by improving your race pace, threshold, VO2Max, and anaerobic system.
Week 10 - Build
Week 11 - Build
Week 12 - Build
Week 13 - Build
Week 14 - Build
PHASE 3: Taper + Race
GOAL: Ensure your engine is ready to perform. These two weeks are focused on arriving at race day fast and fresh, NOT fit and tired. To do this, you will still perform workouts with some intensity, but the amount of intensity and total workout duration will decrease in the taper phase so you can recover and be set to race your best.
Week 15 - Recover and Taper
Week 16 - Race Week
Happy training! We hope you enjoy your free plan and finish your race with success! Follow us and leave us a review!
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