How to train for your first 70.3
Ticked the sprint and standard-distance boxes and fancy a crack at a half-Ironman? Here to help you cover all 113km is Simon Ward…
Had a few seasons racing sprint and standard distance and want to have a crack at a middle-distance tri? With careful planning, a well-conditioned triathlete can conquer the 113km and post a respectable time says coach Simon Ward.
Don’t worry if you’re struggling for training time as it’s possible to finish an event of this distance on six to seven hours of training per week. However, to make a good fist of it I’d recommend that you aim for an average of eight to 10 hours of training per week.
Here I’ve put together my top 10 tips that will guide you from training to finish line.
1. Do the training
Massive volumes aren’t necessary to make the finish line but consistency is. Eight to 10 hours per week for 12 weeks will give you great fitness and confidence. The reason Javier Gomez can jump quickly between different types of race is down to his underlying fitness developed from years of consistent training.
2. Be strong
If you’re going to up your volume you need a frame that can handle the workload. Two 30-minute gym sessions each week with some specifically designed exercises to build your resilience to injury will be a great help.
Longer races require longer tapers. A seven-day taper might work for a standard-distance event but for a 70.3 you might find that 14 days work better. It’s best to play it safe if this is your first time at the longer distance. You can always adjust in the future if you prefer a shorter taper. You will also need a longer post-race recovery.
4. Know the course
Some knowledge of the course will help you create a robust race plan. E.g knowing when and where the hills are or a technical section of the course might help you decide when you can play to your strengths or where you need to be strong mentally.
5. Pre-race nutrition
During a middle-distance event your stomach will be under more stress than usual. Cutting out the fibre in the last 48 hours before the start eliminates approximately 90% of all gastrointestinal problems on race day.
6. Don’t ignore the value of the swim
You should be able to continue with your regular swim training for standard-distance events as it’s only an extra 400m. But avoid marginalising the swim section. Too much energy spent here will affect the latter stages of your race. However, a strong swim means you won’t be playing catch-up from the start.
7. Race nutrition
In races of this distance you could be out there for up to eight hours, so you’ll need to pay more attention to your race nutrition. We usually advise about 60g-80g of carbohydrate per hour but you must practise this in training at race intensity.
8. Pacing is crucial
This is especially true on the bike. If you try to smash the bike, particularly if you’re a weaker swimmer, your run will suffer. Be patient, pace your ride and play the long game.
9. It’s all about the bike
The bike section has the biggest influence on your race result. You spend more time on the bike and your ability to ride efficiently will also have a big influence on your race performance.
10. Be mentally strong
A longer race means more time for things to go wrong and increased potential for discomfort. This can happen to anyone, but being mentally prepared will allow you to deal with it more effectively if anything does go awry