Training for the Ironman 70.3


Many of you already know that I will be racing my first Half Ironman in March. In Puerto Rico. Woot woot. I am beyond excited and nervous, but with hundreds of training hours already clocked, I know I will be ready. Disregard the crocs. First sprint triathlon. Circa 2009.

I started racing triathlons when I was 13 in a JCC kid's race. We swam laps in a swimming pool and rode laps around a neighborhood in Indianapolis. Unimpressed by the course, I bargained my way into a sprint distance race (the minimum age was 14). Since then, I have completed 6 sprints and almost an olympic distance. It had nothing to do with my training - I popped both bike tires on railroad tracks. Shit happens.


In the interim, I have raced 3 half-marathons and decided that my next feat is naturally the Half Ironman. Plus with killer locations, why not combine a short vacation with a race? Um, Puerto Rico. Yes.

I needed to do my research on training methods though. There's some real gold out there on endurance training, and I can see why. Exercise physiology is fascinating especially at the extreme levels.

One of my favorite articles is by Coach Gordo from Auckland, New Zealand who documents his training mistakes in the Golden Rules of Losing Your Iron Virginity.

Rule One: You don't have to kill yourself in training.

"For me, endurance training is exactly like turning a Styrofoam cup inside out. So long as you take it slowly you'll be able to do it. Try to rush things and - rip - you'll tear the cup. You are the cup."

Rule Two: Focus on endurance and technique first.

Spread out your key workouts and make sure you're doing everything right. Injury is worse than starting and not finishing the race.

Rule Three: Focus on your key sessions and make your key sessions focused.

"You have one goal each week-hit your key sessions fresh and injury free. Everything else is filler. If you are whipped, take a rest day. If you are a little tired, use the session for skill and technique work. If you feel good, do some endurance work, but ensure that you finish wanting more."

Rule Four: Sleep is more valuable than training.

As much as I love this rule, it's a lot tougher as a busy college student. "By far, the best thing you can do if you are exhausted is to sleep. Better to miss a short workout on Thursday, than a whole weekend with an unexpected illness."

Rule Five: Forget about speedwork.

"For your first time, I believe running speedwork is a complete waste of time. Some folks disagree with me on this point, but it is something that I firmly believe. A track session toasts me for 12-36 hours. If I am going to fry myself, then I want to do it in a manner that most benefits my race (a 4 hour ride)."

Rule Six: Recovery is your friend.

"Make sure that you drop the volume WAY down every four weeks. Your recovery strategy is the most important part of your plan. Recovery is when you will make all your fitness gains."

Rule Seven: Check your ego at the door.

"Any time you are in a group situation, there will always be someone who wants to go faster than you, or a swim coach that thinks that 10x100 fly would be a great way to kick off the session. In these situations, I swallow my pride and get dropped. It is tough, but eventually you get used to it, kind of. My training pace is non-negotiable. Perhaps that's why I train alone so much."

Rule Eight: Keep your eyes on the prize.

"Remember your goals when you decided to start this journey and keep the training fun. There is no point in putting all this time into the sport unless you are having a heck of a good time."

Everything could go wrong..

In training for my first Ironman, these rules have been my Bible. With 10 weeks until my race, the nerves are setting in. What if something goes wrong? What if I get kicked in the face during the swim and my nose starts bleeding? What if my bike spontaneously breaks into thousands of pieces on the course? What if I pass out from the heat on the run?

Despite my fears, I will be clocking in all 9 workouts a week, listening to my body, taking care of myself, and trusting the gazillion training hours I have already put in.

That said. Bring it, 70.3.

MovingErin Thomas