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The Ultimate Half-Ironman Brick Workout

Feeling unsure about your fitness as your 70.3 quickly approaches? This workout will help you gauge your readiness.

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The countdown to racing season has begun for athletes in the Northern Hemisphere, however, some of you might not be feeling quite ready to toe the line. Do you have that uncertain feeling in your gut that your winter training hasn’t gotten you prepared for your early half-Ironman races? If so, now is the time to complete some 70.3 brick workouts in order to properly assess your fitness.

With a race simulation-style brick workout (or two), you can alleviate those “am I ready for this?” fears and arrive on race morning with confidence. Before you throw in a brick workout of this distance, you need to ask yourself the following questions about your benchmark fitness to make sure you are ready for this type of load:

1) Have you been consistent with your training (including your long runs)?

2) Have you worked on both technique and speed in the pool?

3) Have you maintained a bike schedule that includes a mix of high-intensity efforts with tempo or 70.3-distance efforts?

Brick Workout Logistics

This 70.3 brick workout is abbreviated as it is mostly indoors, but it is still challenging. It begins with a tough, race-pace swim, followed by a run, then an indoor bike session and finally another run leg.

I have provided a free workout plan containing these workouts that you can download and apply to your plan instantly. You will have the option to do this workout using Functional Threshold Power (FTP) on the bike and Threshold Run Pace, or you will be able to use a format for both legs of the workout that works with Lactate Threshold Heart Rate.

Ideally, you will be able to transition from the swim portion to the first run section as quickly as possible to simulate race conditions, but anytime within one hour is acceptable. Since the bike portion is done indoors, you could ideally have your trainer set up either next to the treadmill or at the finish point of your first run to officiate quick transitions.

Ironman 70.3 Brick Workout*

2,000-3,000-Yard Swim

I recommend doing this brick workout at as close to 70.3 intensity as possible. Your goal is to achieve the 70.3-style effort of a 1.2 mile swim, knowing you still have a solid bike and run effort in front of you.

4-Mile Run

Run two miles at a warm-up pace in low-to-mid Zone 2 HR, then increase to high Zone 2 HR for the next two miles. Prepare for a quick transition to an indoor trainer.

2-Hour Indoor Trainer Session

The bike will consist of 4 x 30 minute blocks. Our goal is to be able to ride some of the intervals at an effort that’s actually above goal 70.3 power/heart rate, with the majority of the ride at 70.3 effort. It will break down as follows:

Block #1

  • 15 minutes at 75 percent of FTP
  • 15 minutes at 80 percent of FTP

Block #2

  • 10 minutes at 75 percent of FTP
  • 10 minutes at 82 percent of FTP
  • 10 minutes at 90 percent of FTP

Block #3

  • 12 minutes at 80 percent of FTP
  • 8 minutes at 85 percent of FTP
  • 10 minutes at 92 percent of FTP

Block #4

  • 3 minutes at 75 percent of FTP
  • 12 minutes at 82 percent of FTP
  • 10 minutes at 88 percent of FTP
  • 5 minutes at 92 percent of FTP

Tip: Downloading this workout to your computer to use with Trainer Road, Zwift or Perf Pro will stop you from having to write down the entire workout and save you some time.

4-mile Run #2

Hop off your bike with a quick transition for the second run. This second run will tell you if you have been pacing correctly and/or if you have been staying on top of your race-day fueling plan. Run the first mile at a hard effort or low Zone 3 HR. The next two miles will be in Zone 4, and the final mile will be your best effort, most likely topping out into low Zone 5 (if you’ve paced the workout properly).

*If you have the opportunity to make this an outdoor workout, you can modify it with 10 to 11 miles of running and 50 to 55 miles on the bike, helping you achieve combined mileage closer to the 70.3 distance.

Workout Goals

The bike should work out to around 83 percent of FTP, which is a solid effort for an indoor workout, and without any external motivation like fellow competitors. The run should end up at around 70 TSS points for a one hour run, making it a pretty hard race effort.

Don’t despair if you feel as though you can’t hit your goal numbers on the bike or run the first time around. The reason that we train and try race simulation workouts is so we can be prepared on race day. Learning from hard workouts, like this brick workout, is how we improve and understand our limiters. The key to long distance racing is pacing and nutrition, so keep working on your objectives and keep striving to hit your goals.

When and Why to Do This Workout

This 70.3 brick workout can be done six-to-eight weeks out from your race, and can be repeated four weeks out as well as a final race-ready target assessment. This workout will help answer the following:

  1. How is my fitness?
  2. Will my nutrition plan hold up?
  3. What type of wattage can I hold for my 70.3 bike leg?
  4. What is a reasonable run pace for me off-the-bike?

Want to transform your triathlon knowledge, training, and performance? Check out 10 Weeks to Your Best 70.3—a complete training program led by top endurance coach Jim Vance—free with Outside+ membership!