Training Tips for Half Ironman 70.3
It all started with a debate between friends in Hawaii about whether swimmers, runners or cyclists were the fittest athletes. Unable to be settled amongst a blend of elite athletes….it was a seed planted that would later blossom into a world-renowned challenge that defines not what type of athlete is the fittest, but what kind of person you become when you challenge your limits.
John Collins and his wife Judy, both triathlon competitors, co-founded the ultimate answer to the debate…..THE IRONMAN.
On February 18, 1978, Fifteen competitors came to the shores of Waikiki, Hawaii to take on the first-ever IRONMAN challenge.
“Swim 2.4 Miles. Bike 112 miles. Run 26.2. Brag for the rest of your life.” – John Collins, IRONMAN co-founder “
And if that is a little too much for you to start–they have a half IRONMAN. If you’re not a fan of math, we’ll do it for you. It’s literally half of everything above. Swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles, and run 13.1. You’re welcome. 😉
The most intriguing thing about the half IRONMAN is the collage of competitors who seemingly come from all walks of life at any age. Some are life-long athletes and others –they come from the UK, can’t swim and don’t really like riding bikes.
Enter: Shelley Ripley
“My motivation? Well that is something I have to think about, last year when someone asked me if I was going to start competing in triathlons I said absolutely no way! I couldn’t swim. I didn’t like cycling.”
Shelley moved from the United Kingdom to the United States two years ago with her military husband. An avid runner who loves 10ks and trail races, she always admired her husband’s zeal for cycling, but she could never share the same passion.
“My husband has always been a brilliant cyclist and always tried to get me to cycle, even bought me a lovely road bike, however living in the UK we were limited with good weather and I never really enjoyed cycling– especially in the cold. Needless to say my bike got used a few times but mainly remained in the garage!” Shelley told MaxQ Nutrition.
The move brought better weather, and Shelley’s husband joined a cycling club and encouraged her to join, too. She agreed, but not because her interest in cycling was rekindled, but because she wanted to meet new people. She just came to the U.S. from another country–what better way to meet people than social cycling?
“To my surprise I actually started to enjoy cycling, the weather was so much better over here than back home, it wasn’t so much of a chore to get out into some sun. There are quite a few people at the cycling club who do triathlons and IRONMAN competitions, so stories of their accomplishments always inspired me but it was always something I felt I would never be good enough to do, mainly because I couldn’t swim!!!”
Shelley stuck to the thing she does best, and continued running. At the age of 40 she completed her first marathon.
“(The marathon) has always been on my bucket list but never quite got round to doing until now. Around the same time my husband, Steve, who is a great cyclist and a great runner, decided he was going to start swim training so that he could start doing triathlons, at this time an IRONMAN competition wasn’t on the plan,” Shelley said.
But just like cycling slowly and innocuously became part of her joy, she decided to tag along with her husband and learn how to swim.
“I couldn’t even swim one length of a 25 meter pool without stopping, no way was I going to do a triathlon!”
Ah…..but things changed….
“What have I done agreeing to this madness!”
“My lovely husband completed a Half IRONMAN and decided he was going to do a full one, he suggested I do a half and he would do the same one so we could train together and he could help me. I was very hesitant, to say the least, but with his encouragement and belief in me I said yes— thinking what have I done agreeing to this madness?!!” Shelley joked.
HALF IRONMAN 70.3 Training
“I started training for my Half IRONMAN in December (2016) so by the time it comes round it will be 7 months of preparation. I am doing a duathlon in April and a sprint triathlon in May as part of my training also. I think the length of time for training depends on the person and how much of a base fitness they have in each of the disciplines. I have always been active so I feel 7 months for me is a good amount of time,” Shelley said.
“I set myself goals each week for how many miles to do in each discipline. I have one rest day a week with the other days consisting of 2 workouts a day,” Shelley said.
Shelley started swimming lessons the beginning of this year for her Half IRONMAN in June.
She cycle trained on a turbo trainer in her basement all winter and cycles 70-90 miles per week and intends to increase that to 100 miles per week and continue increasing it weekly. “I am still happy to admit I am a fair weather cyclist!” Shelley told MaxQ Nutrition.
She runs 30-35 miles per week.
She swims around 4 hours per week divvied up between 3-4 days. She gets up at 5am to get a swim in before work, then after work she will bike or run, and sometimes both. She intends to train in open water when the weather permits.
She strength trains two times per week for a total of 1-2 hours per week.
Leading up to her IRONMAN in June Shelley said, “On weekends I’ll start doing a swim, bike, run increasing the distance of each discipline weekly.Strength Training I’ll keep the same, this involves core strength, I have a TRX strap I use for arm strengthening, I do squats, lunges, deadlifts, kettle bell swings, jump squats, mainly just body weight stuff.”
“My rest days are on a Friday at the moment so I’ll sleep in until 6.30am, go to work, come home, sit on the couch and drink wine!!! My event is in June so I look forward to a rest after that!”
Half IRONMAN Training recap:
- Bikes 70-90 miles per week targeting more than 100 gradually.
- Runs 30-35 miles per week.
- Swims 4 hours per week.
- Strength trains 2 times per week.
- Drinks wine on Fridays 🙂
Half IRONMAN 70.3 Training Mistakes
“Training mistakes I think some people make is not listening to their own bodies and not getting enough recovery. Recovery is so important for these types of events so getting enough rest and sleep should be a big priority,” Shelley surmised.
“I also think people can sometimes follow their training plans too rigidly, life happens, you shouldn’t be missing out on important events in your life, and again if you are feeling particularly tired one day cut back, go slower or take an extra rest day,” she offered.
Shelley summarized her advice to find out what works for you and stick with it.
Half IRONMAN Diet Tips
“Most importantly I’ll have a few glasses of wine on a Friday night!”
Shelley is a vegetarian, and eats clean—mostly lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.
“I try and balance my carbs and proteins for the workouts I am doing that day, and most importantly I’ll have a few glasses of wine on a Friday night!” Shelley shared.
“I eat 3 main meals a day. I never go without breakfast. I don’t really keep a regimented eating pattern, I eat when I’m hungry so in between meals I tend to stick to the same snacks, fruit and nuts, maybe a bowl of cereal in the evening or some Triscuits with low fat Philadelphia. I am also partial to a bowl of ice cream although I only eat the natural stuff, not that much better for you I know but it can’t all be good!!! I don’t count macros, sometimes I’ll monitor my calorie intake just to make sure I’m not eating too little or too much.”
We liked her approach to such a formidable competition. To push yourself hard, but also to let yourself off the hook at times. To dedicate yourself but indulge just a little. Wise words coming from someone who decided to compete in an Ironman without knowing how to swim or loving cycling. So we asked her…
Can Anyone At Any Age Start Training for the Half IRONMAN?
“I would say as long as you have no medical conditions and maybe a base fitness level then yes, yes, yes!!” She responded, “I’m 41 and just learned to swim–I can hardly say no, can I?” She joked.
With her carefree attitude and dedication to completing her first IRONMAN, we tip our hats to you, Shelley Ripley. We will be cheering you while you cross that finish line.
We are honored to name you a MaxQ Untouchable.
So, fit friend—yes you– reading this story– who are you?
Someone who recently became inspired to compete? Or has the idea of joining an IRONMAN slowly creeped into your mind and like English Ivy in a flower bed–it won’t go away?
Are you young or old? Are you a man or a woman? Do you love swimming, cycling and running?
You’ll find answering these questions have no bearing on whether or not you can compete in the IRONMAN. The answer in these IRONMAN stories is the same in every tale. Competing in an IRONMAN starts with one question:
That question is ‘will you compete’?
Nothing else matters but your answer.
Need more inspiration? Read Dave’s story—a helicopter crash, a woman’s bike and a $39 pair of running shoes got him through more than one IRONMAN.
Need more IRONMAN help? Go here.