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Half Ironman Triathlon Training

A training program has to be developed to meet the individual needs of the athlete and take into consideration many factors: gender, age, strengths, weaknesses, objectives, training facilities etc. As all athletes have different needs, a single program suitable for all athletes is not possible. The program supplied here is just an example and will require updates to meet your specific aims and objectives.

Any application of this training program is at the athlete's discretion and risk.

Before You Start

Before starting any training, it is recommended you have a medical examination to ensure it is safe for you to do so.

Ironman - facts and figures

The Half Ironman also known as Ironman 70.3, comprises a 1.9-kilometre swim, a 90-kilometre cycle ride and finally a 21.1-kilometre run - a total distance of 70.3 miles. The event can take an athlete anywhere between 4 and 9 hours to complete.

During the race, an athlete can expect to expend 4,000 to 6,000 kilocalories and lose up to 2 litres of fluid per hour.

To maintain blood glucose levels carbohydrate needs to be consumed, preferably in liquid form (sports drinks) to speed up the rate of absorption from the stomach into the bloodstream.

Dehydration is the most likely reason why an Ironman athlete will require medical attention during a race. Loss of fluid and electrolyte results in elevated core temperatures and reduced performance. The loss of fluid also upsets the electrolyte balance and in particular, a lower sodium level (hyponatraemia) which is characterised by muscular weakness, dizziness, headache, fall in blood pressure, rapid heartbeat and shock. Severe sodium loss can result in mental confusion, stupor and coma. Fluid and sodium consumption during a race is therefore essential.

Another factor to consider is that choline levels drop when you exercise continuously for approximately two hours or more. if your choline levels fall too far, acetylcholine production can come to a relative standstill, and your nerve cells will refuse to stimulate your muscles

Overview of the Training program

The seasons training plan is based on six phases where each phase comprises the repeated four-week program. The workload in the first three weeks of the four-week program increase each week (easy, medium, hard) and the fourth week comprises active recovery and tests to monitor training progress. The four-week cycles aim to:

  • Build you up to a level of fitness (3 weeks)
  • Test, recovery and adjustment of the training program (1 week)
  • Build you up to a higher level of fitness (3 weeks)
  • Test, recovery and adjustment of the training program (1 week)
  • Build you up to an even higher level of fitness (3 weeks)
  • and so on

Remember a training program is athlete specific, and the results of the tests in the fourth week can be used to adjust the training in the next four-week cycle to address any limitations.

The content and quantity of training in each week and phase will depend on many factors. The Planning page provides an insight into the process of data gathering and preparing training programs.

Example Training Plan & programs

The objective of each phase, with links to examples of a season's training plan and four-week training programs for phases 1, 2 and 3, are as follows:

  • Training Plan - General overview of the season by phases
  • Phase 1 - General development of strength, mobility, endurance and basic technique
  • Phase 2 - Development of specific fitness and advanced technical skills
  • Phase 3 - Competition experience - the achievement of qualification times for the main competition
  • Phase 4 - Adjustment of the technical model, preparation for the main competition
  • Phase 5 - Competition experience and achievement of outdoor objectives
  • Phase 6 - Active recovery - planning preparation for next season

The content of the four-week programs in phases four and five depends very much on the athlete's progress and competitive races. Your aim in these phases is to address any limitations the athlete may have to bring him/her to a peak of performance for the major competition in phase five.

Training Activities

The following are links to the appropriate page for the activities identified in the training programs.

Training Pace

The intensity of each session is given in terms of a percentage of the event distance target time. e.g. run for 40 minutes at race pace +15%. If the athlete's target time for the 10 km is 36 minutes, then at race pace + 15% their time for 10k would be 41 minutes 24 seconds (36×1.15). This equates to running at 4 minutes 8 seconds pace per kilometre and in 40 minutes, you would cover approx. 9.7 kilometres.

Training Pace Calculator

Enter the training session distance, the event race distance, the training session intensity, your Target Personal Best time (TPB) for the event distance, and then select the 'Calculate' button.

Training session distance is km   Training session intensity is "trp %"
Triathlon event distance is km   My TPB for the event distance is hrs mins
  Time for the session is hrs mins

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • MACKENZIE, B. (2016) Half Ironman Triathlon Training [WWW] Available from: [Accessed