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Ironman 70.3 bike training

70.3 bike tips and sessions from David McNamee

Ironman pro and Kona top 3 podium finisher David McNamee shares his top tips for smashing the middle-distance bike leg


Getting a proper bike fit by a professional is a great investment both in terms of improving your aerodynamics, ability to apply power to the pedals and to help avoid injury. If you’re opting for tri-bars, learning to ride in the aero position is crucial. The biggest mistake a lot of people make is that they don’t train their body enough to hold a TT position for 90km, so come race day they have to break from the aero position to stretch their back.


For me personally, I always struggle with leg strength and am continually trying to improve this area. This requires a lot of sessions with a low cadence and big power. For example, 6 x 5mins at 55rpm (revolutions per minute) with my watts at threshold power. I usually use a climb to allow me to make sure my cadence stays low and finish this session by doing some high-cadence spin-throughs to get the legs use to different rhythms. For example, 4 x 30secs at 110rpm.


Hydration-wise, I aim to drink two 750ml bottles on the bike. One of these bottles will be an electrolyte drink with the other being a concentrated mixture of six energy gels with water. The exact timings of when I drink each will vary on race profile and the race dynamics. But a key thing I do every race is to make sure I’ve drunk from the concentrated energy mix within the first couple of kilometres. If I’m racing in a hot place, I’ll add a hydration tablet to each bottle.


My key pacing advice for middle-distance racing is to make sure you settle into a rhythm as quickly as possible. It’s very likely that for the first 10 minutes, you’ll push harder than you can sustain for the 90km. But when the adrenaline has worn off a little, it’s about settling into your target pace. Then it’s about staying focused, especially over the final 20km as your body starts to fatigue and your head starts thinking about the run ahead.


Benefits? A 1hr session to combine both race pace and strength by training above race-pace threshold. It also focuses on the importance of effective cadence
How close to race day? 2-6wks prior
Duration: 75mins

Location: turbo or gym

Kit: bike shoes, race clothing, stopwatch Nutrition Eat a light meal 2hrs prior, 750ml energy drink and one gel during, and a protein snack post-session


10mins gradually building @ PE 5-8

Main Set

8 x [1min @ PE 9/1min @ PE 5]

4mins @ PE 6

20mins @ PE 7-8 in aero position

4mins @ PE 6

8 x [1min @ PE 9/1min @ PE 5]


5mins @ PE 5


Beginner Increase recovery time to 90secs on intervals

Advanced Reduce recovery time to 45secs on intervals


Benefits? Mixing a long endurance ride with some race-pace efforts will prepare you for the changing natures of a race

How close to race day?2-6wks prior

Distance: 100km

Location: road – find a route that replicates your race in elevation

Kit: GPS watch, bike spares

Nutrition: Approx. 700ml of energy drink per hour and 180-220kcals per hour during session. Recover with post-session protein and meal within 2hrs


10km building in cadence and resistance

Main set

80-90km that includes 4 x 12km at 10% faster than your desired race pace with 5km recovery between; To improve strength you should include hills


5km @ PE 6


Beginner Increase recovery between efforts up to 8km

Advanced Increase efforts up to 4 x 15km at 15% faster than race pace

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