By Matt Fitzgerald
Don’t be fooled by the numbers. An Ironman is much more than twice as long as a half Ironman, or Ironman 70.3, as the format is now called. Yes, the race distance is double, but the level of commitment required to prepare properly for an Ironman is exponentially greater than that which is required to prepare for a successful 70.3. You can get ready for a 70.3 without sacrificing morning sleep or allowing entire weekends to be swallowed up by training.
Just how little training can you get away with doing in your ramp-up for an Ironman 70.3 without setting yourself up for misery on race day? The following training plan is the answer. The key to making a minimalist approach to 70.3 training work is efficiency—that is, getting the most out of each and every workout. And to be efficient your training must be well-balanced, including regular efforts at a variety of intensities, very high intensities not excepted. You might not work long in following this plan, but you will work hard.
The plan is 16-weeks long and includes seven workouts per week. Each week presents two workouts in two disciplines and three in the other, with the sport of emphasis rotating on a three-week cycle. Saturday’s bike and run should be performed as separate workouts unless otherwise noted. Every fourth week is a reduced volume recovery week (indicated by shading).
The workouts are very simple. Most of the information you need to do them is in the calendar boxes. The exception is in the swim workouts. I’ve provided only a total yardage target and a main set. Distribute the yardage difference between the total and the main set among a warm-up, drills and a cool-down. Rest intervals are not indicated in the swim workouts. In each of them, rest just long enough so that you can perform the next interval at the same speed you performed the last one.
In all workouts use a 1-10 scale to control intensity. “L1” equals barely moving, “L5” is a moderate comfortable pace and “L10” is a maximum effort relative to the interval distance.