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Half Ironman cycling training

by Tom
(Australia)

I'm 18 and training for a half Ironman. What sort of training and training speeds should I be doing to average 33-34kph for the 90km?

Intelligent Triathlon Training replies:

To be able to achieve your target in a race you need to be able to exceed that target in training.

A half Ironman is still a very aerobic event so therefore you need to develop your aerobic conditioning to be able to ride at 33-34km/hr without burning too much carbohydrate.

Otherwise your aim of a 33km/hr bike section will leave you with little left to complete the run.

There is no really quick way of developing this conditioning other than hours and volume on the bike.

Depending upon where you are in terms of current fitness, you may want to slot into the following suggestion at a more advanced stage. So this example is assuming you have not done much riding yet.

1. Miles or km - more specifically time on the bike (steady extensive endurance rides).

Long rides starting at 1-1.5hrs at a nice easy pace, keeping your heart rate down and breathing under control at a conversational pace.

Ideally on a regular basis - it is difficult to improve bike fitness with only 1 - 2 rides a week. Start at 3 and when you can do this number of long rides comfortably for several consecutive weeks, introduce a 4th.

2. Once you are into a position where you are maintaining regular riding and not getting overly fatigued, you can introduce some more quality based intervals designed to increase your LT1 speed.

Try something like 3 - 4 x 10min at an uncomfortably comfortable pace. This will probably be at a heart rate of ~ 10 - 20b/min higher than the steady extensive endurance rides.

Have a good warm up and cool down. These are ideal sessions for a turbo, or the commute to work and home again (2 or 3 in each section depending upon length of the commute). As you get comfortable with this start to lengthen the reps to 15 minutes then 20 minutes.

Recovery should be a third of the duration of the effort. This will probably be at speeds above your target or current race pace and is effectively your speed work.

3. When you have these rides working in conjunction with your extensive endurance rides, you can start to increase the volume of them, 1.5 - 2hrs then 2-3hrs etc. Ideally you want to build up to be able to do 4 hours comfortably at 30km/hr on decent roads in the course of your normal training week.

4. Don’t forget to have a few rest days or easy week every now and then, particularly if you feel that the intervals are starting to decrease in quality. This is often the sign that fatigue is now too much and you need a rest. It is however often used as the reason to do more training because it feels like you are not fit enough!!

5. Bike position is worth a lot of time, so spend some time getting your TT position checked and practice riding in it. The less drag you have the faster you will go. Just remember you need to run off it as well, so you should always keep some form of running off the bike in your programme, especially off a ride in TT position.

6. When you are getting closer to your race day, say 2-3 months out, include a ride of 3/4 race distance at your target speed using your chosen equipment and see how you go.

This will help you to get a feel for the pace and distance, and also acts as a good training session. Not every week but once every 3 weeks or so. Also practice your race nutrition and possibly include a run off as well.

At 18 years old you may not have had the time to develop the aerobic capacities of your older peers so you may need to spend more time doing this type of training, whilst in the short term you may feel that hard efforts feel like you are training harder.

This just ends up getting you better at riding harder under fatigue and will not help your triathlon performance, although there is some merit in it if you wish to do a good 50-mile time trial.

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