Training > Long distance

11 middle-distance training tips for beginners

Conquering the half iron distance triathlon takes careful planning and commitment. But it shouldn’t be feared. Here’s our essential advice to start you on the road to middle-distance glory…

1. RESPECT BUT DON’T FEAR

The thought of taking on a 70.3 triathlon is daunting to many athletes, especially those with minimal multisport experience. While the distance should be respected, it shouldn’t be feared. With organised planning and a commitment to achieving the end goal, it’s manageable for athletes of any ability as long as there’s the desire to complete the challenge.

2. APPLY YOURSELF

Tens of thousands of people complete middle-distance races in the UK each year, and you can be one of them; they’ve applied themselves and so can you. Be prepared to work hard but embrace how great it can make you feel.

3. DON’T DOUBLE UP

When the race distances are broken down and looked at individually – the 1.9km swim aside – it’s effectively double an Olympic-distance triathlon. But this doesn’t mean that you must do double the amount of training hours that you’d do for an Olympic. Of course, there’ll be some weeks when the volume of training is significantly greater, but not every single week.

4. LOG MILES BEFORE SPEED

The key sessions of each week will become the longer, steadier workouts on the bike and run, and these are commonly done at weekends. Once you begin to get close to achieving the race distances in training then suddenly the fear of not completing the event starts to reduce. Now you can focus on how quickly you can complete.

5. INVOLVE YOUR FAMILY

In order to be successful it can be crucial to get your family and friends on-board. Try to involve them with your training or helping you with your nutrition and kit. As well as having your family working with you, it’s incredibly effective if you’re part of a training group that are building towards similar goals. 

6. MAKE MIDDLE MATES

Having training partners helps to motivate you and encourages you to not miss sessions; the feeling of letting your friends down by skipping a session will nag away at you. You can learn new training routes and be inspired to work harder. Training will be made more enjoyable and productive as part of a group.

 7. TRAIN TO EAT

You must train yourself to be able to eat and drink while on the move; it’s essential to performance that you can fuel on the go. Eating smaller portions more regularly can be easier on the digestive system instead of scoffing a whole energy bar in one go. Cut your energy bars up into quarters before you ride and set a timer on your watch to remind you to eat and drink. A rough guide is approx. 600-800mls of fluid per hour and 180-220kcals per hour. 

8. DON’T OVEREAT

Don’t overeat for the sake of it in the days before the race. The concept of carb-loading doesn’t mean doubling your portions of pasta/bread/rice. Your reduced training volume will mean that you’re storing carbs for race day. Also avoid high fibre or spicy foods: your digestive system doesn’t need any additional stress during the race.

9. EXPERIMENT IN TRAINING

Experiment with different quantities of fluids and bars/gels. Make notes on how you performed and build up a system that works for you. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes in training, as this knowledge will prove invaluable on race day.

10. RECOVER & REFUEL

Begin your recovery from a session as soon as you’ve finished it by using a protein-based snack or drink. Enjoy a balanced meal with more protein within 2hrs of the session.

11. CHECK THE RACE BRAND

Use the products that the race organisers provide in training as it’s difficult to carry enough nutrition on your own. If the race-day products don’t suit you then you’ve time to find an alternative. And don’t try anything new on race day!

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