Winter Training To Move From Sprint to Half Ironman

by Neal

What type of triathlon training should I be doing over the winter and how much?

I've just done 1 season of sprints and hoping to do Ironman 70.3 in June.

Intelligent Triathlon Training replies:

Not knowing what you have been doing whilst training for sprint triathlons makes it difficult to be precise on what you need to do or change in preparation for a 70.3, however there are a few basics which you will need to include:

Race duration will increase significantly, therefore your training volume will also need to be boosted. Particularly the cycling, as this is the longest discipline and the less tired you can get off the bike the better chance you have of completing a good run.

In swimming get used to swimming longer repetitions, and building your muscular endurance.

In cycling include more long steady rides keeping the intensity down to build a strong aerobic base, and so you can do this week after week. Riding too hard in-frequently will not lead to long term sustained gains, and will NOT translate to enabling you to run comfortably off the bike.

Include a maximum of 1-2 sessions of intervals (1 if you can ride more than 8 hours per week in 3 steady rides, 2 if you only have time to ride less than 7 hours in 3 -4 steady rides).

However focus now upon building LT1 with something like 10-20 minutes above your LT1 and 5-7 minutes recovery below LT1 (if using heart rate, you should be ~5% above LT1 heart rate and 5% below). Start with about 40 minutes of work over LT1 and build up to 60-80 minutes. As you get fitter, make the reps longer. These are really good practice for concentration and mental toughness.

Running, you will probably need to be careful not to rush into increasing your volume too quickly, otherwise you risk injury. So from what you are doing now, gradually start to creep the volume up by no more than 20 minutes per week or 5 minutes per run per week. You don't need to worry too much about sessions for speed, more about endurance and fatigue resistance.

When you go for your second half-Ironman then you have something to beat and a history so you can start to work more on your speed. However at this time, endurance and fatigue resistance will be your friend in the race.

Try to include 1 run off the bike, even if initially it is only a short one after a weekend ride, but as with the other runs this can gradually increase in duration.

A good endurance session is to work around the speed you want to maintain for the run off. So think from objective evidence of your fitness and project on where you think you can get to. For example if you can maintain 12km/hr for the run, start to work around that area. The run off should be somewhere around your LT1 HR or maybe slightly below.

So, similar to the bike sessions, time slightly above this with a 3:1 or 4:1 work:rest ratio, i.e. 6 minutes at 3-5% above LT1 with ~ 2 minutes at ~5% below LT1. Gradually increase the rep length but keep the work:rest 4:1 or increase to 5:1 as the rep length increases. i.e. spending proportionally more time above LT1 in the sessions.

Don't forget to allow some recovery in the programme.

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