Hello Triathlon Season: My Half Ironman Training Plan

June 10, 2013

Today officially kicks off my triathlon season and the first day of my 20-week triathlon training plan for the Beach2Battleship Half Ironman (Wilmington, North Carolina: October 26).

This year, I’m using one of the advanced triathlon training plans in Triathlete Magazine’s Essential Week-by-Week Training Guide by Matt Fitzgerald. I’ve heard so many great things about this triathlon training plan, and I’m excited to start the journey to my second 70.3!

What I really like about this book is that it has 40 different triathlon training plans for different distances and ability levels. For each race distance (sprint through full Ironman), there are plans for levels 1-10 – 1 being your first race and 10 being for people who expect to be on the podium and are willing to train as if that is the only thing they have going on in their lives.

I’m going to do a combination of levels 5 and 6 for my half Ironman plan. Level 5 is for triathletes “looking to improve on past performances,” while level 6 is designed for “people chasing age-group prizes but still wanting to keep a sensible ceiling on training volume.” For the record, I am well aware I will not be on any podium anytime soon. *wink*

There are 6 principles the author focuses on for each of the triathlon training plans:

  • Balance across all three sports is encouraged so you don’t train too much in the sport(s) you’re best at and not enough in the others. (I did this last year with the bike. It’s my least favorite of the 3 sports, and as a result, I spent the least time on the bike. Unfortunately, you can’t hide that on race day.)
  • There is variation in the swim, bike and run workouts to challenge your body and not fall into a rut of doing the same handful of workouts over and over.
  • There are 3 phases of each triathlon training plan – base, build and peak – to ensure you are increasing volume and intensity at a healthy rate.
  • Step cycles are incorporated into each training plan, in which there are 4-week blocks of training where “the second week is more challenging than the first, the third week is more challenging than the second, and the fourth week is a recovery week, in which training volume is reduced 10-20 percent.”
  • The plan calls for one rest day per week.
  • Tune-up races are recommended during the training cycle to provide a solid workout where you will push yourself harder than you might in training, to provide experience with transitions, fueling, nutrition, etc. and to reward you for all your hard work and training.

The plans call for a rest day on Monday, followed by the following breakdown of workouts (they vary some weeks but this will give you a good idea of the types of workouts I’ll be tackling):

  • Tuesdays: Swim, power bike intervals
  • Wednesdays: Run with some speed work mixed in
  • Thursdays: Brick workout (bike immediately followed by short run)
  • Fridays: Steady bike, Swim
  • Saturdays: Long bike or brick workout
  • Sundays: Swim, long run

I will also be figuring out how to integrate 2 days of strength training into this schedule. God help me.

Since I’m going to be traveling a bit this week, I kicked day 1, week 1 off today with a 1,500-meter swim.

This past weekend, I went to an open water swim clinic which was a great way to kick off my first week of official training. I’ll be sharing with you some tips and advice I learned for mastering open water swims later this week.

Tonight I’ll be doing a second workout: 1-hour bike ride on the trainer with some 20-second sprints in the middle.

Each Monday for the next 20 weeks, I’ll be sharing with you the details of each week’s training cycle to show you the kinds of workouts I’m doing, where I’m feeling good and where I’m struggling. I hope you’ll share your thoughts, tips and advice with me along the way.

Happy swimming, biking and running guys!

Are you training for a triathlon this year? What triathlon training plan are you using? Do you have a coach? Share what you’re most excited about for triathlon season. If you’ve never participated in a triathlon before, are you interested in doing one?



Oh yay – B2B – one of my favorites! I started using the Matt Fitzgerald plan this season and like the format a lot. I am not crazy about having to flip around in the book to figure out what the various workout codes mean but other than that, it seems to be a good plan. Excited for you!


I’m so glad to hear you like the plan and it is working for you, Karen! I agree about the flipping back and forth. That is kind of annoying. I’m trying to write each week’s plan on a sheet of paper so I don’t have to do too much of that on a daily basis. Good luck with your training!!!

Kristen L

Can’t wait to hear more about your training cycle. I never used a triathlon training plan…just kind of rolled with it on my two tri’s. I think for a half iron though a plan is important! 🙂

The swim is probably my weakest event, so I’d love to hear your tips!


I’ve just started thinking about a tri but I definitely think I’m going to test it out with a few sprints if I can find some good ones. Good luck!


I’m so excited that you shared about this book! I actually went to my school’s library on the recommendation of another teacher and that was the book that they had to check out! I’m going to be looking at it over the next couple of days to figure out my training plan! I’m so glad that you talk about it being a good book. I’m probably going to be doing a Half Ironman in October (Ironman 70.3 Miami) and am definitely doing a sprint it July and an International in August. Excited to follow along in your training plan.


I’m glad we’re all hearing such great things about these plans! Yay! Congrats on taking the plunge into 70.3. I think you will love it, and you have some awesome experienced ladies you can train with in Tampa. Can’t wait to hear about your sprint and international tris this summer. Looking forward to following your journey as well!


Can’t wait to read about your training as it progresses! I just did my first sprint tri YESTERDAY and it was awesome! My next one is in a few weeks and then I switch gears to training for my first marathon in October. Big summer for both of us! 😀


CONGRATS on your first tri, Shauna! I’m so excited for you and glad you loved the experience! Good luck with your next race and your first marathon! Lots of exciting things for you on the horizon. Please keep me posted on your training 🙂


I am so excited to hear about your triathalon training!! I am an experienced runner and I have been biking for about a year but I have never done lap swimming! I am so nervous to get in the pool and so intimidated by it! I am going to try my hand at lap swimming as soon as my bathing suit comes in the mail this week! I am hoping to do my first sprint tri in August and then build from there! I cant wait to hear about how your training goes and try to learn from you!!


I’m excited to hear you are going to do a triathlon this year! Later this month I’m going to write a post about transitioning into triathlon for runners, so I hope that will be helpful for you 🙂 Don’t be intimidated by the swim. Consider getting a private lesson or some coaching if you are nervous. The more you know, the more comfortable you’ll feel. Be sure to try some open water swimming before your first race to get comfortable with it. That can be a bit scary at first, but just staying calm is key. I look forward to hearing more about your training. Good luck!


Awesome post! Good luck with training. Came across your blog searching for Ironman Augusta 70.3 reviews, as that is my next half iron in September. My first was Ironman Florida 70.3 last month. Looking to break 6 hours in Augusta, so looking forward to reading about your bike training (my weakness as well). Started my 16 week plan based off of ‘Run Less Run Faster,’ which I see you reviewed as well. New fave blog!!


Hi Amber! Good luck with your Augusta training. It is a really well-run race and I think you will enjoy it … especially the fast swim. Feel free to email me at runladylike@gmail.com if you have any questions or want to talk more about the race. I had the chance to ride the course and run about 5 miles of the run course 3 weeks before the race, which was nice for some mental piece of mind. I know you can reach your goal! Thank you so much for stopping by runladylike.com. Your kind words mean a lot! Happy training!

Christine @ www.idratherbesweating.com

I signed up to do a triathlon years ago, got a great bike and everything, and then got injured. I tried to find a team that needed a swimmer but not luck. Instead, I caught the running bug and have been doing marathons the last 5 years. I am tempted to try another triathlon though because I know the biking and swimming would be great cross training! Good luck in your training!

Leslie @ Triathlete Treats

I used this book for my first Ironman. I liked it but its annoying flipping back and forth. Doing it once a week is a good idea! :). I have kind of had a coach through the tri club the last couple of years but I hired a coach this year. My tri season is almost over…one more half iron and one more oly to do then my focus will be on running! Good luck with your training! I am sure you will kill a 5:45!!


April 7th 2013, I finished my first tri of my life! My coach is myself, I finished the Galveston, TX 70.3 with much pride! I will be training for my 2nd Ironman half June 2014 in Lubbock, TX. I’m looking for a new guide for this year of training. Think I found it thanks to you. My goal is to beat my last PR. Most importantly, I do this to have fun & to stay healthy. I’m a mom of two boys & my husband +family/friends really cheer me on. I’m will be 37 soon & I’m feeling very much alive!

Running is was my least favorite so reading your love for running helps. I did force myself to do a half marathon and I enjoyed every sec. I think running is becoming my friend now…
Reading your blog helps me keep me going. Thanks. 🙂


Congrats on all your accomishments Diana. I hope you like the plans in this book. Keep me posted on what you think and how your training goes! Thank you for your kind words! Keep being awesome 🙂 xo


Hi. So great to read your blog. Marathoner with a few sprints under my belt. Bike is my anxiety. Toying with Austin 70.3. Run swim not a problem. Bike… Haven’t riden more than 35 and will have to rent one. Doable?


Hi Patti,
If you can ride 35 miles, you can DEFINITELY do a half Ironman. It sounds like you are very capable of one. Would you have to rent a bike? There are plenty of companies that will ship your bike to a race. I would highly recommend training and racing on the same bike. If that is not possible, check into companies where you can rent a bike that is the same as the one you train on. Best of luck to you and I hope you’ll keep me posted on your progress!


Thanks for the positive words. Will let you know how things work out. Good luck on 10/26!


Hello! I will be completing my first half ironman in July. After completing your half (congrats!) would you still recommend this book? Thank you!


Hi Amelia! Congrats on training for your first half Ironman. I would HIGHLY recommend this book as a guide for your training. Beach2Battleship was the second half Iron distance triathlon I completed and using this training plan was like night and day from my first training cycle. It is incredibly well laid out and accounts for all the phases of a proper training plans (I of course tweaked a few things for me, but it is awesome). Two thumbs up from me. Best of luck with your training! Let me know how it goes!


Thank you so much for this post! I have been considering one of his plans through training peaks for a while but just can’t afford the $75 price tag. I found your blog in a search and used your link to the book on Amazon. I’m signed up for the Raleigh 70.3 race and look forward to using one of these plans. You saved me so much $$$!


Hi Jamie! Congrats on signing up for Raliegh! I love Matt Fitzgerald’s plans and hope you will find them as helpful as I did. I finished 16 minutes faster in my second half Iron than my first when I used this book, even with a much slower swim. I hope you have an amazing race and good luck with your training! xoxo


Thank you! I will let you know how it goes! I’ve enjoyed reading up on your own training. I am very hopeful!!


Came across your blog as I was searching for an easy to follow training plan for my first Ironman 70.3. I am signed up for Augusta in September and am very excited/nervous. I have a strong history of running (5k’s all the way to marathons and ultras), a decent history of cycling (I’ve done a couple of metric century’s in the past), but am TOTALLY new with the swimming thing. I started swimming the first of this year and already am making great progress. My first sprint is in April and I’m hoping to get in a few more tri’s (especially some open water ones) before Augusta. I came across Fitzgerald’s “Super Simple IM 70.3 Tri Training Plan the other day and printed that out. Would you also recommend me checking out his book as well to find the right training plan for me? Thanks and I’m so glad I stumbled upon your blog!!!


I know you’re not asking me, but I wanted to comment that this book has EVERYTHING!!!! It has ten levels for half ironman so you’re able to get something just right for your level of fitness. I’m on week 4 of a 20 week plan and I’m having amazing results! I got it on amazon for about $10.00!


The half iron plan is amazing! I have come so far in only 4 weeks! Thank you for recommending this book!


I’m so, so glad to hear that Jamie! Matt Fitzgerald is great. Keep me posted on your progress! xo