3-month training plan for half Ironman race

October 28th, 2021

3-month training plan for half Ironman race

Are you a seasoned athlete searching for a new challenge, perhaps a longer race? What about a half-Ironman distance race? Read on to see if this 3-month half Ironman training plan is right for you.

12 weeks before the race

Having the appropriate volume to cross the distance while retaining the quality of each session is critical during this phase.

You should be able to easily ride 80 miles or more by this point. Build up to riding the complete 112 miles, or possibly significantly more, over the next four weeks. During these rides, think about your race-day power/heart rate and ride in those zones for extended intervals of 20 minutes to an hour. These rides also allow you to get used to your bike position and make necessary adjustments. What feels great for 60 miles might not feel so good after 100. Also, it gives you a sense of how your shoulders, back, and hips will feel later in the ride.

For the long-run portion, the same concepts apply. Running for more than three hours is not necessary for most athletes. The physical exertion of such a long run might wear you down. A preferable approach is to keep the long run between 2:15 and 2:30 minutes, with some race speed (or effort) intervals. If you need to run longer, do so 12 to 10 weeks before the race to allow for more recovery time.

Workouts during the week should emphasize race-day effort intervals. Consider your target times for the bike and run, as well as the heart rate and/or pace you'll need on race day.

The final two weeks can have a lower volume to allow for micro-recovery. This will provide you with the extra energy you'll need for a strong final workout block.

8 to 4 weeks out

This training block is your final opportunity to improve your fitness. You can continue to add volume to your long days throughout the first half of this block, but it shouldn't be more than 10 to 15 miles on the bike or 15 minutes on the run. Huge volume increases can be dangerous in this situation, resulting in an injury. This is when you should do your longest ride and run of the program.

Start adding in some long, steady swims for a set distance, often 2,000 to 3,000 yards or meters. Swim at or near your goal pace for the race after a short warm-up that you may simulate on race day.

Also, this is the time to finalize your race gear. Use your race clothing, aero helmet, and race-day wheels for at least a portion of this training.

Four weeks out

This is the period to reduce your volume and give your body time to absorb all of your training.

Nothing can be done to improve your fitness in the last two to three weeks, but there is plenty you can do to impair it.
Remember, it's better to be 10% undertrained on the day of the race than being 1% overtrained.

You'll have the training and stamina you need to perform well if you've been consistent throughout the last few months. Many athletes feel that a two- to three-week taper is the most effective.

Continue to do race-pace or faster intervals during your sessions, but they should all be shorter than in prior weeks. Rest is essential. Don't be alarmed if you're sleepy or sluggish. Your body requires time to adapt to all those months of exercise. The more rest and recovery time you have, the better.


Happy training! We hope you enjoy this 12-week half Ironman training plan and finish your race with success!

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