Packing on long workouts can be a tempting way to build mental confidence before tackling Ironman 70.3 for the first time, but Andy Potts, former Olympic racer turned 2007 Ironman 70.3 world champion, has found that short-course training provides ample foundation for longer events. Upping your training in the right way without going overboard is the key to nailing your first half. These four adjustments to Olympic-distance training will have you prepared to run a strong half-marathon.
Forget The Long Run
You will have to run 13.1 miles on race day, but that doesn’t mean you have to run the full distance in training. “If running a nine-miler puts you over the edge so you don’t run for the next four days, I’d much rather have you do seven then come back the next day and do five, then come back the next and do six,” Potts says. Your body also benefits from the cumulative endurance training from cycling and swimming, so you can feel prepared to finish with a strong half-marathon split without doing multiple double-digit runs.
Train this way: Gradually add distance to your prior longest runs from short-course training — 10 to 20 percent — over the course of the season, even if that leaves you short of 13 miles.
Add To Your Daily Runs
Instead of spending your training time and recovery energy to extend your longest run, Potts advocates for adding a little distance to each run during the week. “Everything starts with consistency,” he says. “If you’re currently running four times a week for four miles, try to up that base run to six miles instead of focusing on your long run. That will give you more strength than three short runs and a 10-miler.”
Train this way: Extend your typical weekly runs by 25 percent over the course of the pre-season.
Trust Your Fitness
Ironman 70.3 is a long race, and the distance can be intimidating. But packing on the running miles is likely to leave you injured or overtired, not stronger. Trust the fitness you’ve built while racing shorter distances and from the other two disciplines. “We work our aerobic engines from swimming, biking and running, and your heart and lungs don’t know the difference, although your limbs do,” says Potts. “When in doubt, work your engine.”
Train this way: Increase your weekly training hours, but back off when your body tells you it has had enough.
Keep Up The Intensity
Longer workouts aren’t always the best way to improve endurance — fast efforts play an important role as well. “I would look to keep your intensity and then tack a little bit more distance onto each [intense] run,” suggests Potts. “I still think that when you go long you can put in strides, tempo or interval work.”
Train this way: Keep doing the faster workouts from your Olympic-distance training routine and gradually extend the hard segments over time without dropping the intensity.
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