Ironman 70.3 Victoria Training Check In – Part 1

Ironman 70.3 Victoria Training Check-In Part 1 - Eat Spin Run

As I was typing the title of this blog post, I got really really excited. If you were reading along last year, you may remember that I did a series of 6 posts in the lead up to my first half Ironman, Challenge Penticton on August 30th. Well my friends, it’s time to restart that series.

For those that aren’t familiar, a half Ironman (or 70.3) is a triathlon consisting of a 1.2-mile (1.9 km) swim, a 56-mile (90 km) bike, and a 13.1-mile (21.1 km) run. You may ask, “why would someone want to put their body through 70.3 miles of all that – twice?!”

post-race at challenge penticton

I’m not going to lie – there were a few times last year where I asked that question of myself. It’s a lot of work. There’s the commitment to the long training hours, gear expenses, laundry, the occasional social sacrifices needed in order to get quality sleep, and I’m just talking about a half Ironman – a full one is an even bigger commitment! But why would I sign up again?

There are several reasons. Building overall fitness, the ability to say I’ve accomplished a tough physical feat, and the training buddies acquired in the process are just a few. But above all, the reason that reigns supreme for me is that the process of working towards a big goal like a half Ironman taught me so much about myself last year. At the end of the day, the challenge helped me grow into a better person.

So what’s the next race?

Ironman 70.3 Victoria, and it’s on June 12th. I’ve been eyeing up this one since I got home from my weekend in Penticton last year, already eager to put my body to the test again. It’s on my 2016 vision board, and that means I’ll be doing everything in my power to make it happen!

(Source: Ironman)
(Source: Ironman)

Each part of this new series will include training and nutrition components, as well as some commentary on how I’m trying to balance it all with the other important things happening in my life. However, I’ve left out nutrition in this posts because there’s loads to be said about training. We’ll get to nutrition next time!

So with that, let’s kick it off!


As I mentioned earlier this year, my plan is to self-coach this time around. I used a coach for my first half Ironman because I had absolutely NO idea what I was doing outside of the running portion, and his guidance was exactly what I needed. But this time around, I’m excited to have a go at it on my own.

out for a ride on my bike

The work has already begun, although not quite in the way I’d anticipated. My original plan was to start my structured self-designed program on January 4th, but having come back from Bahrain with a really bad cold, I decided to prioritize getting better so that it wouldn’t linger for any longer than was necessary.

I’ve been running and cycling (albeit not crazy intensely) regularly this month, and although I took it easy over the holidays, I don’t think I lost too much fitness. For most of January I’ve maintained ~7-9 hour training weeks and have thrown in a 2-hour ride each weekend as a gentle ease back into the long stuff. Later this week I’ll be headed to Ontario for a very quick trip to celebrate my cousin’s wedding, and that means that structured periodized training officially starts on February 2nd. 18 weeks + 1 taper week to go before race day: it’s game on!


Admittedly, this is the discipline I enjoy the least. It’s not because it’s super hard or anything – just like any sport, the more you do it, the more you get better and gains seem to come quick. It’s just… well, boring.

The swim is one of the reasons a lot of people don’t get into triathlon, but in the grand scheme of things, it makes up such a small portion of the race time-wise. For me, the bigger obstacle is the inconvenience of getting to and from the pool and all the gear hauling, showers etc. It’s a lot more convenient to switch from the bike to the run than from swimming to anything else!

swim course at challenge penticton

As it stands now, I’m planning to do 2-3 swims per week, ranging in distance between 2000-3000m depending on the goal of the session and the stage in my training program.


Looking back on last year, one of the things I felt I lacked was strength on the bike. This is the discipline that I know I have the greatest amount of potential for improvement. Building strength is something I’ve worked on over the winter by spinning 2-3x/week at Method, and I’ve seen major gains in my all-around fitness because of it. My awesome friend Steph is an Ironman triathlete and her classes are very much triathlon-focused, so I know they’re preparing me well. There are also a whole bunch of other full/half Ironman triathletes in these classes, so I’ve got great company and new buddies to ride outside with when the weather gets nicer.

Riding at Method

Long, lower-heart rate workouts are really important in a half Ironman training program – there’s no denying that. Legs need to be strong, an aerobic base needs to have been established, and your butt’s gotta be prepared for the assault of sitting in the saddle for several hours at a time! But one of the changes I plan to make this time around is to continue with my classes at Method. I’ll use them as the quality, higher-intensity bike workouts each week, in combination with my less-intense long sessions.

The other big change is going to be a heavier emphasis on road riding, as opposed to so many hours logged on my bike trainer. Part of last year’s problem was that I didn’t know where to ride outside because I was still new to the city. While the trainer was great for developing mental focus and allowing me to do steady heart rate progressions, the reality is that it’s not a very good simulation of race conditions. It’s still way too rainy and cold for me to be taking my bike outside (sorry, fair-weather athlete here!) but once it warms up, I plan to do most of my long weekend sessions on real roads with real hills!

My typical Saturday morning bike trainer setup
My typical Saturday morning setup


My favourite of them all! Running takes the biggest toll on the body impact-wise, so the trick will be not over-doing it here. Outside of triathlon I have some running races plotted out – some a part of my training, and some just for fun. Like the bike training, I’ll be doing a mix of shorter intense sessions, plus one long run per week. My goal, having not done brick workouts for a while, is to get my legs adjusted to the bike-to-run transition quickly. Therefore, I’ve got a couple of bricks scheduled each week.

asics gel tri noosa 10s - blue and purple

The Schedule

To make my half Ironman training plan, I combined the one my coach gave me last year with a few others I found online that sounded like they’d be a good fit for me. Last year my highest-volume weeks were 16-17 hours, and I don’t plan to exceed that because I know it was as much as I was willing to take from a work-life-training balance perspective.


I’ll be working in 4-week blocks, each one building week over week. Depending on how I’m feeling during my lowest volume weeks in each cycle, I’ll ease off a little or a lot in order to go into the following weeks strong and recovered. I’ll also be using my Polar V800 and analyzing my heart rate throughout the program. Heart rate training was new for me last year, and it’s now something I consider a huge asset. With heart rate you can monitor your progress over time, watch your fitness improve, and notice weird spikes that could signal overtraining or a medical issue. Seriously, it’s super useful stuff!

Without getting into the nitty gritty of what each session will look like, this is my general plan for block 1. I’ve accounted for other things I’ve already committed time to, and anticipate being able to stick to this pretty closely. These 4 weeks will take me to the end of February:

Ironman 70.3 Training at a Glance- February - Eat Spin Run Repeat

Using this format, I’ll have 4 complete training cycles plus one week to taper before the race, and I don’t plan to take my volume much higher than 15 hours per week. The difference from block to block will be in the intensity of the workouts. Of the volume that will be added, most of it will be extending my long weekend rides, eventually hitting ~5 hours.

Alright, that’s enough for part 1 of my training check-in series. I’ll let you know in about a month how this plan is working out, nutritional focuses, and anything else that I happen to discover while swimming, biking and running my way to being half Ironman-ready!

[Tweet “It’s officially on: @eatspinrunrpt’s #IMVictoria #triathlon training check-in – part 1”]

So tell me…

  • If you’re training for a race right now, how are you going about doing it? Do you have a coach, did you make your own plan, or are you using more of an unstructured train-by-feel approach?
  • Anyone else doing a half Ironman this year?

17 thoughts on “Ironman 70.3 Victoria Training Check In – Part 1

  1. I love love love this update and it is so exciting to watch the huge strides you have made as an athlete!

    I am doing a 70.3 this year as well and I am working with a coach because, unlike you, I hate creating my own schedule. 🙂

    1. I’m so excited that we’re both working towards the same thing! And trust me, if you can rock a 48 hour winter adventure race, you’ve got the 70.3 in the bag. Grit is your middle name, and I can’t wait to talk all things triathlon at brunch on Sunday!

  2. Best of luck to you! I can’t wait to read about your progress. I find these posts very interesting & inspiring even though my “race” goals look VERY different from yours (I’m super proud when I can finish a 5k). 😛

  3. Best of luck, Anglea 🙂 I’ll be seeing you out on some rides this year. Looking forward to it!

    PS: You make me feel lazy given that you’ve been @ 9 hours / week through January =P

  4. So cool Angela! I am excited to ready your updates as your progress through training 🙂
    I live in Victoria and am pretty sure I will be making it out to watch it this year – talk about getting inspired! May have to more seriously consider it 😉

    I am currently training for the Oak Bay Half marathon in May and yes I do have a coach. I tried training on my own but without a good knowledge base on how to do it I found I was just plateau-ing. I have seen major improvements in my fitness and PBs over the last year working with a coach. Plus I love being accountable to someone else and have them to check in and talk it out.

    Congrats on your first Ironman update!

  5. Great Post! Just curious, there seem to be no recovery days? 7 days a week at that intensity for 4 weeks is pretty hard on the body. Did you mention recovery and I missed it? Anyway, so glad you posted this update!

    1. Great question!

      Here’s my opinion about rest days: Last year, my coach had me training 7 days per week, with some very high (relatively speaking) volume but very low intensity. (We’re talking heart rate below 130 for a very large amount of time.) My body handled that really well, so I’m going to test out this first month of training with the 7-day/week training schedule, reserving Mondays for easy efforts.

      For this first block, I’m really not worried about swim speed – it’s more about just finding my stroke again as I haven’t been swimming at all since before Christmas. The strength training will not be heavy and will focus mostly on core and the pulling muscles (to help with my pull in the pool), and the 20 min run will be a very easy aerobic effort.

      The plan is to reassess at the end of the training block and based on how I’m feeling, either carry on with this session or drop it and move the swim to a different day as that’s the only one of those 3 workouts that really needs to be done. I’ll be sure to mention it in my next update. Thanks for the question!

      1. Thank you so much for taking the time to reply. All you’ve said in consistent with what I’ve been reading and working on in my own schedule. Can’t wait to see the updates and how it goes and what you learn along the way. Your blog (and replay to the above) was very helpful, so again thanks! How about some videos?

        1. Also, forgot to ask a quick question about the time on the schedule. Is it all in minutes, (so 200 would be 3hrs 20 min) or does 200 stand for 2 hours, 00 minutes? Big difference:)

          1. Hi Charles,
            I’m glad you’re finding this consistent with what you’ve been reading. There are definitely lots of ways to train for a 70.3, and I’m definitely no authority on what’s best but I think it’s something we all learn with experience. Which race are you training for? Regarding 200s, sorry for the confusion – the plan should say 2:00, as in 2 hours. (I think the :’s are just a bit faint against the coloured backgrounds.) And for the videos… we’ll see. I’ve thought of plenty videos I could be doing, but they haven’t been my priority up until now. That doesn’t mean that won’t change though!

            1. It’s such a big help for you to share your plan. As a beginner in the sport (with a good base of fitness) it helps a lot to see your plan I’m in Florida so I will either to Ft. Desoto in Sept. of this year, or Las Olas (ft lauderdale basically). I would do a sprint or olympic in las olas since it’s coming up pretty soon. May save the half for next year, but training for the half then doing an Olympic seems like a good plan. My main goal is to be as fit as possible, and to stay healthy while doing it. I play a lot of tennis also, so trying to fit it all in and be sure I get enough recovery time is critical so I don’t over train. If you had to give up one day or move something to have a down day,, what would you cut? I’ve read (and I see in your plan) that the bike is really crucial as it’s a low impact way to improve endurance. I didn’t like swimming and running much when I started a year or so ago, but now love the time alone and the way I feel physically after an hour or two of exercise. It’s addictive:) Again, thanks for posting and responding. Very helpful! And very kind of you to take the time!.

              1. It’s so funny you mention saving the half for next year, because that’s exactly what I was thinking when I first got into the sport… until my coach at the time convinced me to just go for it! I only did one triathlon (an olympic last July) before tackling my first half Ironman in August, and to be honest, I’m kinda glad I did it that way! The way you train for a half Ironman will be very different to an olympic-distance race, purely because the half distance is so much more about endurance than speed. Having said that, the olympic certainly was helpful in helping me to feel more comfortable with the way transitions etc work. Either way, I love that you’re getting into it!

                As for cutting out any part of my existing training schedule, if I decided to switch and take a total rest day once per week, I’d move the swims from Mon/Thurs to Wed/Fri, and take Monday off completely (therefore getting rid of the easy run + strength sessions). This is because it’s the first day back after a high-volume weekend, and even though that would mean no strength training, I like to think I’m developing upper body strength with all the yards I log in the pool doing pull with paddles. Running takes the greatest toll and just so happens to be my strongest, so I’d be cool with dropping one of those if needed. I think emphasis on the bike is good because it’s the discipline you’ll spend the most time on in an actual race, and you can also do a lot more of it (in comparison to running) without causing a ton of physical fatigue. That’s key when recovery between sessions is so important! Like you, I can’t say I LOVE swimming, but have also started to appreciate the alone time and the post-swim feeling (minus post-swim eau du chlorine smell!)

                Feel free to keep the questions coming if you have them, and best of luck with your training!

  6. Hi Angela,

    Great to read your blog.

    I’m also training for a 70.3. I’m doing IMMT 70.3 on june 26th. Cant wait its 89 days away.

    I did a sprint last year and got hooked big time. So i joined a tri-club here in Quebec City. I have a coach and a bunch of great teammates so hopefully its gonna help me reach my goal.

    Finally was able to get my bike out yesterday even if there’s still way too much snow on the ground but it was about 8c out yesterday so i traded the trainer ride for the wet/some mud roads. It was also the maiden ride on my new bike.

    Cant wait to read more about your training


    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Patrick! It’s great to hear that training is going along so well for you and that you’re super hooked on triathlon. Hats off to you for getting your bike out this early in the season. You are a far tougher athlete than I! It’s getting into double digits here in Vancouver and I’ve been loving running outside… now it’s just a matter of getting my bike off the trainer and outside too! Enjoy your new wheels and all the best with your training and racing this year! 🙂

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