How To Approach Your Early-Season Half Ironman

  • By Jené Shaw
  • Published Mar 16, 2012
  • Updated Oct 31, 2014 at 4:37 PM UTC
Two athletes prepare to race at Ironman 70.3 Panama. Photo: Kurt Hoy

Your Race Strategy
The good news is that if this isn’t your A race, there’s less pressure for a PR, which allows you to set more specific goals outside of a finishing time. “You might consider pushing one element of the race simply to test your ability to handle the effort; after all there’s no place like race day to see what you are capable of!” McCrann says. Try one of these approaches:

• Focus on your weakest sport. “I like to work on the #1 race limiter that the athlete needs to address for his A race later in the year,” Byrn says.” If you’ve struggled to be aggressive on the swim, test out your hard-earned winter pool fitness and go out hard. For the athlete who has never run to his potential, Byrn hinges the entire race on running a fast final 10K. “I remove pace/power pressure from the swim and bike so that the athlete learns what a fast run feels like. Most people never give themselves a chance to learn this lesson and it’s a lot of fun to be strong at the end.” For those with proven running prowess, Byrn will take a chance with bike pacing, having athletes base their bike strategy on riding key segments at close to functional threshold power.

Play with pacing. Challenge yourself to negative split the bike or run (do the second half faster than the first). Or ride steadily and start the first three miles of the run 15- to 20-seconds slower than your goal race. “Once you are comfortable you can pick up the pace for the next seven miles and then, if you have anything left, really open it up over the last 5K. You’ll be amazed how many people you’ll pass en route to the finish line,” McCrann says. If you just started training with a power meter this year, now’s the time to test how well you can execute a pacing plan.

Concentrate on skills. In the water, perfect your bilateral breathing, practice your drafting or sight with consistent form. Once you’re on the bike, strive for your optimal cadence and ensure you’re pedaling in nice, even circles. During the run, take short, quick strides uphill and avoid overstriding going downhill. Do a form check every mile: Are your feet landing directly under your hips? Are your shoulders scrunched up to your ears? Are you doing the Old Man Shuffle?

RELATED: Simple Half-Ironman Nutrition Advice

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Jené Shaw

Jené Shaw

Jené Shaw is a contributor for Triathlete magazine, a six-time Ironman finisher and a USAT Level 1 certified coach

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