Got the triathlon bug and want to move up to 70.3 distance (otherwise known as a half-Ironman or middle-distance race) from sprint or Olympic distance? Here’s all the advice you need, plus two free training plans.
What distance is a 70.3 triathlon?
A 70.3-distance race is a 1.9km swim, 90km bike and 21.1km run. It’s also known as a half-Ironman or a middle-distance triathlon.
Who is a 70.3 triathlon suitable for and what level of fitness/ability will you need?
This race distance can take the fastest athletes less than 4hrs and has an upper cut-off of 8.5hrs. This makes it a distance that’s a big step-up for most athletes.
What kit will you need and how much will it cost?
You’ll need a wetsuit that will support you over a longer swim, and goggles, a road bike, helmet and trainers. You can usually get changed between disciplines, but a good tri-suit is ideal for racing a middle-distance.
You’ll also need a nutrition plan, including salts, hydration, and fuel for the bike and run. Often training will be completed twice a day through the week, so your lifestyle must support that: make sure you sleep and fuel well.
Top 70.3 triathlon tip
Middle-distance racing is often said to be the ‘perfect distance’ because it combines the endurance of long distance and, at the sharp end, the speed of short-course racing.
That said, for many people middle-distance racing is a step up in distance, and, with that, less sociable.
If you have a good club environment, you can still join many club sessions, as long as you put in the two specific sessions (longer ones) for bike and running.
Free 6-month Ironman 70.3 training plan
For many triathletes, taking on a 70.3 race is the furthest they will ever go, for others it’s a stepping stone to full iron-distance racing. Whatever it is for you, it shouldn’t be taken lightly and requires a commitment to the training if race day is going to be a success.
Completing a 70.3 is best done with some experience of triathlon racing and ideally a knowledge of how your body reacts to exercise stress after 2-3hrs.
Watching the likes of Alistair Brownlee step up to racing 70.3 may have seemed effortless but let’s not forget the huge amount of miles the professionals cover in training.
And so it is with this plan. Before starting it, we’d expect you to have logged some base training during the off-season so you’re able to complete the sessions described from week one.
When the plan mentions certain swim, bike and run sessions, it’s referring to these 70.3 training sessions.
Free 8-week half-Ironman training plan
This half-Ironman training plan is designed for those who are able to commit to six days training per week. You’ll need a decent base level of fitness and an understanding of working at differing levels of intensity.
One key element in this half-Ironman training plan is that some weeks have a number of ‘double days’ where there are two training sessions – these don’t need to be done in succession and, in fact, it’s better to recover between training sessions and be ready to execute each session as strongly as possible.
Consider how best to refuel between sessions on double days with the right hydration and nutrition.
Each week includes one open-water swim. It’s absolutely crucial that you spend enough time getting ready for the swim; if you can be as comfortable as possible in the open-water environment and get a strong start to the race, then you stand a great chance of overall race success.
If, as an athlete, you’ve been used to racing shorter distances at higher intensities, part of the transition to middle-distance racing is to reduce speed slightly but improve endurance to tolerate the stress for longer periods.
It’s a bit like walking a tightrope and knowing that if you spend too long on the wrong side you’re likely to have a major fall from grace! The longer bike and runs, as well as the brick sessions, are your ideal opportunity to dial in your middle-distance race pace.