Wednesday, June 5, 2013

My Half Ironman Training Plan - Because I Need One Now...

Image from
Last year at the Coastal Triathlon in Orange Beach, AL, I came in first place masters category, which qualified me for a slot into the USAT Age Group Nationals in Milwaukee this August. It was the first time I've ever qualified for anything like that so I had planned on doing the race this year. Unfortunately, we have too much going on in August so instead of going to Milwaukee and doing an Olympic Distance Triathlon, I signed up for a half ironman 70.3 race in October.

Image from triradar. com

That means I have to start regular triathlon training. Not the kind of "regular" do what I feel like doing kind of training that I do now. I have to come up with a plan and I have to follow it. I have to somewhat follow it fairly regularly whether I feel like it or not. I have to start swimming and biking more consistently again. It's been a nice break but now it's time to buckle down again and get serious.

I have done several half ironman triathlons in the past and for all except one of them I have followed a training plan I found on the website. Here is the link to the training plan below:

18 Week Half Ironman Training Plan

If you are new to half ironman training and don't want to hire a coach, I highly recommend it. I started using it in January several years ago for a half ironman that was in May. It starts out very easy, especially if you're like me and don't swim or bike much during the off-season which for me is November and December. All I do during those months is run and whatever I do in the gym. No swimming. It's easy to start with the swims in January and build up from there. I usually am way ahead of the run part of the training plan.

I find the race date on the calendar and count back 18 weeks and then start filling in the workouts on a blank calendar. I use to use a paper calendar, but this time I think I will use Google calendar. When I was training for Ironman Canada in 2010, my coach had my training plan on Google calendar and he could change things as needed and we could both access it. I still have some blank paper calendars that I can fill in the dates and my workouts if I want to do it that way too.

Below are my times for all the 70.3's I've done with the fastest being 5:42:18. My first 70.3 was 5:43:35 and in both of those races I used the above training plan.

All Years » Triathlon & Multisport » Half Iron
Best:5:42:18Gulf Coast Triathlon 2005 / Half IronHalf Iron (5/7/2005)
Latest:7:23:522011 Ironman Hawaii 70.3 / Half Iron (6/4/2011)
Average:6:09:476 races completed over 9 years 1 months 6 days 

My slowest 70.3 was the most recent, Hawaii 70.3 in 2011 and the only only one where I did not use the 18 week training plan. (or any training plan)

Reason's (aka Excuses) for my slowest and latest half ironman results other than the fact that I'm just older and slower...

1. I followed no training plan and actually did not "train" at all for the race except for running and   
    getting on the exercise bike at the gym and weights.

2. I only swam twice before race day after taking 9 months off after doing Ironman Canada.

3. I only biked on my tri bike 3 times in those 9 months with my longest ride being only about 20 miles 
    since I was "burned out" from all the Ironman training.

4. I had to get stitches in my hand and elbow while in Hawaii after doing a practice swim the day 
    before the race.

5. My bike didn't show up until the day before the race and I wasn't able to do any practice rides before 
    the race. I barely got it checked into transition in time for the race. My bike fit was totally screwed up 
    with my seat being too low. (I actually realized I ride faster that way after I got use to the weird way 
    it felt.)

 6. Due to my inept packing of my bike, some bike parts fell out of the box during transport and I was 
     running around trying to purchase replacement parts after getting the stitches mentioned above.

7. During T2 when I was about to put on my running shoes, I realized that I had two un-matching 
    shoes (Here). I had packed them up, flown them all the way from Birmingham to Hawaii, then put   
    them in my T2 run bag, never even realizing my mistake until the middle of the race when it was 
    time to put them on and run. Luckily, I had one lefty and one righty, otherwise I would've looked   
    even stranger than usual.

Those are my excuses and they are pretty darn good excuses I think. There were so many times during that trip/race that I thought about calling it quits and not doing the race. Especially while getting stitches and worrying about getting my bike put back together in time. I was totally depending on the bike shop guys who were putting the bikes together at the host hotel to get it right the first time. There was no time for errors or for test rides. My test ride was riding the bike from the hotel to the transition area and that was about it. The bike guys did great!

The doctor who did my stitches was wonderful even though the tetanus shot and the numbing shot hurt like hell. Even the Murph had to look away.

This time a training plan is very important because I am going for a faster time not just "to finish". My goal is to finish in under 6 hours. With the above plan, I think I can do that since I've done it before with that training plan. I know I can already jump into week 1 and follow all the workouts pretty close and work my other races (sprints, 5k's, half marathons, marathons) around the training as I did in the past.

The key is to not get injured or burned out. Two things that have also happened to me in the past! 

Also, if anybody has a good training plan that they recommend, I am open for suggestions.


  1. For someone who claims to have excuses, you do amazingly well! Do you really need a training plan? I think you know what you're doing and are already very disciplined.

    1. I do kind of do the same things every week but I will have to go longer on some things to do a half. That;s where the training plan comes in handy. It helps me stay focused and get the long rides, runs and swims in as well as shorter faster stuff preferably without getting injured.

  2. If a training plan works for you, which it obviously does, then you should go for it. And I think you'll hit you target time which isn't much higher than your average race time. Good luck n your training.