Use this challenging program to prepare for the final six weeks before a long-course race.

Ready to raise the bar and tackle a half-Ironman this season? Build into the prerequisites outlined here, and then use this challenging program to prepare for the final six weeks before a long-course race.

About the Program

The goal of this program is to build volume while relying on your established fitness from racing shorter distanc- es. There is an emphasis on pace and rhythm at goal race pace (GRP), which, for a well-trained athlete, is Zone 3 in Ironman 70.3 racing. (Refer to the chart below for reference.) In addition, there are key sessions for maintaining your threshold fitness in Zone 4, which will help your Iron- man 70.3 performance.

Weeks 1–2 and 4–5 are challenging training weeks, with the goal of getting you used to the time and distance required for 70.3. Volume tapers off a bitattheendofWeek5and even more into Week 6, which is race week. Week 3 is an important recovery week.

Before starting this program, you should have completed the following in the past five weeks:
❚ Two 90-plus-minute runs
❚ Three two-plus-hour bikes
❚ Multiple 2,000-plus-yard swim workouts

Start the program after finishing a recovery week. Do your best to follow the timing of workouts within the week and order of workouts in each day to maximize the training effects. Adhere to the training zones so that you do not over-train, and so you can maximize key GRP and threshold sessions. Time ranges are suggested for certain sessions, allowing you to choose a duration that is not too great of a jump from what you have been doing prior to this schedule. If you need to alleviate your mid-week schedule, consider removing the Tuesday recovery run or Wednesday recovery ride. Listen to your body and back off if you feel significant soreness or specific pains.

Your Lactate Threshold

Understanding lactate threshold (LT) training is critical to improvement. Your LT determines how long and how hard you can exert near maximum effort. There’s a point when the body begins to produce lactate at rates that are too fast for it to metabolize—this is the LT.

To determine your LT, do a field test on the run when your legs feel rested. After a warm-up of 15 minutes, do a 30-minute time trial on flat terrain where you can hold your hardest uninterrupted effort for that duration. The track is a good option.

Pace out your time trial as evenly as possible. To determine your LT heart rate, hit the lap button on your heart rate monitor 10 minutes into the time trial. The average heart rate for the final 20 minutes is your LT heart rate.

This chart will help you understand the various training zones.

Key: ‘ = minutes | ” = seconds | Zn = heart rate zone | (brackets) = rest between intervals | GRP = goal race pace, for 70.3 | RPM = revolutions per minute, or cadence

Week 1

Monday
day off; or optional short recovery bike.

Tuesday
Run 30–45’, aerobic recovery. Zn 1, include 8×1’ cadence count. Shoot for 90+ counting right foot strike only.
Swim 2000–3000, speed. After a good warm-up including easy freestyle, drills, kicking and some 25 or 50 pick-ups, perform the main set: 2–3 x [12×50 (20”) alternate 2 sprint, 1 easy]. Swim 200 easy between sets.

Wednesday
Run one-mile repeats at GRP. Measured road, track or trail. After a 10’ warm-up, including 4×30” pick-ups (faster running), perform the main set: 8×1 mile (1’ walk), Zn 3. Run an even pace for the set. 10’ cool-down. Choose a route that is flat with minimal turns. Repeat the same stretch back and forth to equally quantify efforts, and take intermittent splits at a set spot as well to make sure you are on track with your pacing.
Bike 1:00–1:30, aerobic recovery. Flat terrain, Zn 1–2 at 90–95 RPM.

Thursday
Bike 1:50–1:55, GRP. After a 15–20’ warm-up, including 4×30” pick-ups (faster cycling), perform the main set: 3×25’, Zn 3 in TT position (10’ Zn 2-1) at 90–95 RPM. Run off TT #3.
Run 20’, transition run off the bike. Quick transition (less than 2’), then 15’ at the same average pace as yesterday’s interval run in Zn 3. 5’, Zn 1.

Friday
Swim 2500–3000, endurance. After a good warm-up, including easy freestyle, drills, kicking and some 25 or 50 pick-ups, perform the main set: 3–4 x 500 (30”) alternating 75 in Zn 3-4 (GRP or effort), 50 easy in Zn 2 with good form.

Saturday
Bike 3:00–3:30, endurance. Hilly base ride in Zn 1–3, mostly Zn 2.

Sunday
Run 1:30–2:00, endurance. Perform a flatter progression run, building by thirds Zn 1-2-3. This type of run is great for building back-half fitness. On race day you want to be strong in the closing 6 miles of the race. Visualize this on your run.
Swim 2500–3000, strength endurance. After a good warm-up, including easy freestyle, drills, kicking and some 25 or 50 pick-ups, perform the main set: 2–3 x [2×200 (20”), 4×100 (10”)] with pull buoy. Paddles are optional for up to 50% of the total interval volume.

Week 2

Monday
Day off; or optional short recovery bike.

Tuesday
Run 30–45’, aerobic recovery. Zn 1, include 8×1’ cadence count. Shoot for 90+ counting right foot strike only.
Swim 2000–3000, speed. Main set: 2–3 x [4×50 (20”) as 1 moderate, 2 sprint, 1 easy. 100 fast! 100 easy].

Wednesday
Run Two-mile repeats at grP. Measured road, track or trail. After a 15’ warm-up, including 4×30” pick-ups (faster running), perform the main set: 4×2 miles (1’ walk), Zn 3. Run an even pace for the set. 15’ cool-down.
Bike 1:00–1:30, aerobic recovery. Flat terrain, Zn 1–2 at 90–95 RPM.

Thursday
Bike 2:00–2:05, GRP. After a 15–20’ warm-up, including 4×30” pick-ups (faster cycling), perform the main set: 45–25–15’ Zn 3 in TT position (10’ Zn 2-1) at 90–95 RPM. Run off TT #3. P Pick a bike route that simulates terrain of your 70.3 course so that you may practice time-trialing in similar conditions.
Run 20’, transition run off the bike. Quick transition (less than 2’), then 10’ at the same average pace as yesterday’s interval run in Zn 3. 10’, Zn 1.

Friday
Swim 2500–3500, endurance. After a good warm-up, including easy freestyle, drills, kicking and some 25 or 50 pick-ups, perform the main set: 1000 build by 200 (1’). 3–5 x 300 (30”), alternating 50 easy in Zn 2 with good form, 50 in Zn 3 (GRP or effort), 50 fast in Zn 4.

Saturday
Bike 1:50–2:10, threshold. After a 15–20’ warm up, including 4×30” pick-ups (faster cycling), perform the main set: 6×5’ (3’), Zn 4. 20’ easy in Zn 1. 5×1’ (1’), Zn 5. 15–30’ cool-down.
Swim 2200–3200, strength endurance. After a good warm-up, including easy freestyle, drills, kicking and some 25 or 50 pick-ups, perform the main set: 2–3 x [400 (30”), 200 (20”), 4×50 (10”)] with pull buoy. Paddles are optional for up to 50% of the total interval volume. P A pull buoy and paddles are great strength-building tools and will prepare you for wetsuit swimming. Emphasize body rotation (as you would in a wetsuit) to work your lat muscles and not overwork your rotator cuff muscles in your shoulder. An alternate choice for this swim would be an open-water swim in your wetsuit, while emulating the listed main set.

Sunday
Run 1:15–1:40, endurance. Hilly base in Zn 1–3, mostly Zn 2. B 2:00–3:00, endurance. Flatter base in Zn 1–2.

Week 3: Recovery Week

Monday
Day off. Recover like a pro! This is when the healing happens that makes you stronger for next week. Get a massage, focus on eight-plus hours of sleep each night, and fill your additional spare time with relaxing activities such as reading and movie watching, rather than extra yard work.

Tuesday
Swim 1500–2000, recovery. Main set: 8–10 x 100 (20”) at a moderate pace with good form.

Wednesday
Run 30–45’, aerobic recovery. Zn 1, include 8×1’ cadence count. Shoot for 90+ counting right foot strike only.

Thursday
Bike 1:00–1:30, aerobic recovery. Flat terrain, Zn 1–2 at 90–95 RPM.

Friday
Day off.

Saturday
Run 1:15–1:40, endurance. Rolling base in Zn 1–3, mostly Zn 2.
Swim 2500–3500, strength endurance. After a good warm-up, including easy freestyle, drills, kicking and some 25 or 50 pick-ups, perform the main set: 2–3 x 800 (1’) with pull buoy. Paddles are optional for up to 50% of the total interval volume. Doing sustained swimming sets will allow you to exit the water on race day with minimal fatigue, feeling ready to have a great ride.

Sunday
Bike 2:00–3:00, endurance. Rolling base in Zn 1–2.

Week 4

Monday
day off; or optional short recovery bike.

Tuesday
Run 30–45’, aerobic recovery. Zn 1, include 8×1’ cadence count. Shoot for 90+ counting right foot strike only.
Swim 2000–3000, speed. After a good warm-up, including easy freestyle, drills, kicking and some 25 or 50 pick-ups, perform the main set: 2–3 x [12×50 (20”), alternate 2 sprint, 1 easy]. Swim 200 easy between sets. P Pay attention to shifting your stroke rate (arm speed) higher for sprints while still maintaining good arm pressure on the water. Being able to shift stroke rates is a useful tool for race-day swim starts and navigating groups and turn buoys.

Wednesday
Run Three-mile repeats at GRP. Measured road, track or trail. After a 15’ warm-up, including 4×30” pick-ups (faster running), perform the main set: 3×3 miles (2’ walk), Zn 3. Run an even pace for the set. 15’ cool-down.
Bike 1:00–1:30, aerobic recovery. Flat terrain, Zn 1–2 at 90–95 RPM.

Thursday
Bike 1:20–2:00, threshold. After a 15–20’ warm-up, including 4×30” pick-ups (faster cycling), perform the main set: 6×2.5’ (1.5’) Zn 4 at 90–95 RPM. 10’ easy. 10×30” (30”) Zn 4–5 at 100–105 RPM. 15–30’ cool-down.

Friday
Swim 2500–3500, endurance. After a good warm-up, including easy freestyle, drills, kicking and some 25 or 50 pick-ups, perform the main set: 2000 nonstop, building pace by 500 from moderate to GRP. Focus on maintaining good form.

Saturday
Bike 2:15–2:20, GRP. After a 15–20’ warm-up, including 4×30” pick-ups (faster cycling), perform the main set: 120’ in Zn 3 in TT position at 90–95 RPM. Run off the bike. P Be ready for the effort of running off the bike. In the last 10 minutes of your bike before a brick run, start thinking about running well and get mentally “into it.” This also builds transition speed.
Run 1:00, grP. Quick transition (less than 2’), then perform a flatter progression run as 25’ Zn 2, 25’ Zn 3, 10’ Zn 1 cool-down.

Sunday
Run 1:30–2:00, endurance. Flatter terrain, Zn 2.
Swim 3000–4000, strength endurance. After a good warm-up, including easy freestyle, drills, kicking and some 25 or 50 pick-ups, perform the main set: 2–3 x [600 (20”), 4×100 (10”)] with pull buoy. Paddles are optional for up to 50% of the total interval volume.

Week 5

Monday
Day off; or optional short recovery bike.

Tuesday
Run 30–45’, aerobic recovery. Zn 1, include 8×1’ cadence count. Shoot for 90+ counting right foot strike only.
Swim 2000–3000, speed. Main set: 2–3 x [4×100 (30”), best average pace for the set]. 200 easy swimming between sets.

Wednesday
Run one-mile repeats at GRP. Measured road, track or trail. After a 15’ warm-up, including 4×30” pick-ups (faster running), perform the main set: 5–6 x 1 mile (1’ walk), Zn 3. Run an even pace for the set. 15’ cool-down. This is a shorter interval set than last week. Avoid temptation to run too fast, causing excessive muscle tissue damage requiring extra recovery. Reinforce smooth running biomechanics and practice mental imagery for race day next weekend.
Bike 1:00–1:30, aerobic recovery. Flat terrain, Zn 1–2 at 90–95 RPM.

Thursday
Bike 1:30–1:35 GRP. After a 15–20’ warm-up, including 4×30” pick-ups (faster cycling), perform the main set: 2×30’ Zn 3 in TT position (15’ Zn 2–1) at 90–95 RPM. Run off TT #2.
Run 30′, transition run off the bike. Quick transition (less than 2′), then 20’ at the same average pace as yesterday’s interval run in Zn 3. 10’ Zn 1.

Friday
Swim 2500–3500, endurance. After a good warm-up, including easy freestyle, drills, kicking and some 25–50 pick-ups, perform the main set: 800 build by 200 from moderate to GRP. 8–10 x 150 (30”) alternating 50 easy in Zn 2 with good form, 50 in Zn 3 (GRP or effort), 50 fast in Zn 4.

Saturday
Bike  2:00–3:00, endurance. Flatter base in Zn 1-2. P Pay attention to not overdoing today’s ride and respecting the zone. This will allow you to reinforce endurance for next weekend’s race but not leave you overly fatigued. The goal is to be fresh for next weekend!

Sunday
Run 45’–1:00, endurance. Hilly base in Zn 1-3, mostly Zn 2.
Swim 2500–3500, strength endurance. After a good warm-up, including easy freestyle, drills, kicking and some 25–50 pick-ups, perform the main set: 2–3 x [400 (30”), 7×50 (5”), 50 easy (1’)] with pull buoy. Paddles are optional for up to 50% of the total interval volume.

Week 6: Race Week!

Monday
Day off.

Tuesday
Swim 1500–2000, recovery. Main set: 8–10 x 100 (20”) at a moderate pace with good form.

Wednesday
Run 30–45’, aerobic recovery. Zn 1, include 8×1’ cadence count. Shoot for 90+ counting right foot strike only.

Thursday
Bike 1:00, race preparation. 20’ Zn 1-2. 2×4’ (2’) Zn 3 at 90–95 RPM. 5’ Zn 1. 2×2’ (2’) Zn 4 at 100–105 RPM. 15’ Zn 2-1. P If you feel sluggish, that is normal on race week. Today’s bike and Saturday’s run and swim are meant to shake out the cobwebs. Your approach should be to sharpen up, but not view it as a fitness-building workout. Avoid excessive lactic acid.

Friday
Day off.

Saturday
Run 20’, race preparation. On the race course: 10’ Zn 1-2. 5’ Zn 3. 5’ Zn 2-1.
Swim 10’, race preparation. In the open water, if possible: 4×50 Zn 3. 4×50 as 25 fast, 25 easy. 5’ easy.
Bike Test gears and brakes.

Sunday
Race! GRP is Zn 3.
Warm-up: Run 10’ Zn 1-2, including 4×15” pick-ups. Finish run 50–60’ before race start. If possible, 300–400 swim. Include 2–3’ easy, 4–6 x (20 strokes pick-ups, 20 strokes long and loose). 1–2’ easy. Finish swim 5’ before race start.