If you've decided to tackle a half Ironman event, you're motivated and fit -- or perhaps half-crazy. The half Ironman is much more demanding than a standard Olympic triathlon event. You have to be in excellent shape before you can even begin to train for a half Ironman. You must devote a serious amount of hard training time to get ready and prepare yourself to experience a certain amount of suffering during the competition. For all the intense effort, when you hit the finish line, you'll be rewarded with be a tremendous sense of accomplishment and feel like an iron woman!
The half Ironman starts with the swim leg. You'll swim 1.2 miles in a lake or in the ocean. Any stroke is permissible, from backstroke to dog paddle. Then you'll dash out of the pool, change into cycling attire, and peddle for 56 miles. After that, a 13.1 mile run takes you to the finish line. Expect to encounter hills on the last two legs.
Before you start a half Ironman training program, you need to attain a relatively high level of fitness, writes professional triathlete Matt Lieto at the Trifuel website. You should already have participated in several Olympic triathlons, which consist of a 1.5-kilometer swim, 40-kilometer cycle and 10-kilometer run. Your fitness level should be high enough to comfortably complete the training sessions recommended for the first few weeks. Training sessions are six days per week and consist of workouts that begin with a 60-minute bike ride on Tuesday and a 45-minute swim and 30-minute run on a Wednesday. The Amateur Endurance website states that you should be able to swim 45 minutes, bike 120 minutes and run 60 minutes without stopping before you begin their 16-week half triathlon training program.
Half Ironman Training Programs
There are plenty of training programs that offer daily workout schedules to steadily prepare you for a half Ironman. Trifuel offers a 20-week training program that builds up to training days that demand both a 45-minute swim and 40-minute run, or days calling for a 120-minute bike ride. The 16-week training at Amateur Endurance features 75-minute swims and 210-minute bike rides. BeginningTriathlete.com details a 20-week plan with fewer training hours per week.
No training program is a perfect fit for every individual, so you should adjust your training schedule as necessary. For example, you might work full-time or have limited access to a pool. You should check with your doctor before training for a half Ironman, especially if you have never competed in an endurance event before.
Jim Thomas has been a freelance writer since 1978. He wrote a book about professional golfers and has written magazine articles about sports, politics, legal issues, travel and business for national and Northwest publications. He received a Juris Doctor from Duke Law School and a Bachelor of Science in political science from Whitman College.