Friday, July 01, 2016

Training for my first Half Ironman (70.3)

Summarizing my training for the 70.3:
  1. Started off with pool swims and short runs in January/February just to get the body warmed up for the season. Have been running a bit until early December last year, but swims dried out by November.
  2. Started following a little bit of the training plan in March with more rigorous workouts and adding biking to the mix. The last real bike ride I did was in September last year when we went for IMLT.
  3. Went to India for 2 weeks and was back by April 10. From there on, have been pretty regular with all three workouts.
  4. Workout schedule that Coach Char gave us. Later on, it was replaced by this schedule.


Focused initially to get back to where I left it last November. Then, I was able to do a 1.2 mile (actual ~1.35 miles) swim in Santa Cruz in  about 57 mins. This was a huge confidence booster for me since it meant that I can clear the cutoff and maybe improve my time too.
  1. Did a lot of distance workouts as per the schedule, but not fully following the exact mileage.
  2. GOOD:
    1. Was able to do the listed distances either at one go (less often) or by breaking into batches of 200, 400, 500 etc.
    2. Improved my bilateral breathing which I kinda picked in the last season. Now I am able to breathe both sides almost with equal comfort and that allows me to breathe every 3 strokes as opposed to every 2 which I did last season.
    3. After Pooja gave me a couple of pointers in where my technique was not perfect, I did the best pool swim on my training 2 days after. Decently consistent and continuous 2000m swim within 1 hr. Tried to improve my kick from the left leg and stronger kick when pulling.
  3. BAD:
    1. Timing did not really get better and neither did endurance over the long-term as much as I hoped.
    2. Mostly since I DID NOT do speed workouts and technique sessions. Partially, since I was stupid enough to not clarify with the Coaches what does focusing on technique really means.
    3. Could not follow the distances as on paper since they always seemed more than I could especially speed and technique which lead to point b) above.
  4. Did only a couple of speed workouts in the last month or so. Felt incredibly hard, but I was happy I did not give up and was able to last a session that Coach Char recommended.
The swim speed that I have settled into is around 2:45/100m or 2:30/100yd. This translates to around 55-56 minutes for 1.2 miles. Still the weakest sport for me and its a shame that mentally I am not very happy/confident of my swim.


Focused on getting better with bike since I knew there was the most bang for the buck in shaving off a lot of time since it is the longest segment. I started biking with Team Asha in 2014 and did a 100k ride. All the training and the event ride included a lot of stops and longer too, so never had a good grip on what speed can I sustain myself for longer distances. In 2015, the distances for Spring and Olympic were small enough that still did not get much read into it. This was the same for bike nutrition since never paid attention to it earlier.


  1. First thing I sorted out in my initial longer rides was nutrition. Tried to carry Potato sandwiches which worked out great. They were close to 300 Kcal (2 triangles) so one was good for an hour by itself.
  2. Used Gu Gels along with for having more options for the palate.
  3. Was using Nuun tabs for electrolyte. Later realized that they do not have calories and I prefer drinking over eating. So replaced it by Gu Endurance electrolyte which gives me 250 Kcal per bottle.
  4. Tried a few snack bars like Larra Bars and they work well too. So settled with electrolyte, gu gels, and bars as my final nutrition. Ditched the sandwiches since they require prep and also cannot have more than one odd due to taste/staleness.
  5. Once I started paying attention to proper nutrition, I noticed that transitions were easy and could run well even after a tiring bike ride (compared to last year training where nutrition intake was certainly bad).

Riding discipline

  1. Converted leisure stops to only required number and amount of time actually needed. This was to prevent unnecessary cool-down and get back wasted time.
  2. Started riding once a week to Mt. Eden as a benchmark ride and to practice hills since Vineman has a similar hill at mile 45. Really helped to push myself on flats and hills equally. Saw dramatic improvement in average time.
  3. Started attending Spin sessions regularly on Thu and paid attention to the form and made sure I am pushing hard by adjusting the resistance on the trainer well.

Notable training rides

  1. Pushed hard the first time for a longer distance: 52 miles in 3:25.
  2. Long brick workout: 56 bike + 7 run: The weather was cold and had an awesome brick session. Absolutely no problems in transition and ran at a good pace - just 30-60 secs per mile slower than usual. The idea was to push as hard as I can on the bike to see how the run goes, and the result was a success.
  3. Long brick workout: 56 bike + 8 run: Hot weather and definitely the hardest training workout. Transition was fine but heat got to me in the run and barely finished my 8 miles. Did not have a strong finish.
  4. Montebello ride with Venki: Toughest climb to date but was happy to have done it in good time, ~50 mins.
  5. Tour de Cure 100k with 5.5k elevation: Rode with the Google team and did Kings Mountain and Tunitas Creek in the same ride. Pretty hard ride but took long meal breaks.
  6. Flat and windy 40 bike + 5 run on Oracle trail: Perfectly flat ride but plenty of head winds in one direction. Got done with bike in 2:18 but headwinds were a nice surprise and a good challenge to face.
  7. Last 56 mile bike ride: Weather was really hot (85-90F). I pushed as hard as I could to meet the 3:30 mark (missed by 30 seconds) to see how it feels to run a mile afterwards. Felt a bit hard to run the mile. So have a reference for how hard I should try on the bike.
    1. Felt bloated since since used 5 bottles of water with 4 bottles worth of electrolytes.
    2. Transitioning to run was hard as a result.


Been running since last 3 years and have a good grip on the run part when running independently. The main goal was to see how much I can exert before the run to get a good run out.
  1. Brick runs mostly went well, with the exception of heat, which is there in my independent runs as well.
  2. Averaging around 1 min/mile slower than the regular HM speed. 11:00 min/mile vs 10:00 min/mile.
  3. Got shin splints later in the training - so dialed back the runs and foam rolled to get it fixed.
  4. Got leg massages a couple of times to loosen the tight muscles. Mostly every muscle needed loosening though none was very bad.


  1. Need to do more disciplined speed and technique workouts. Maybe take a few lessons to have someone look at my technique.
  2. Carry extra food and electrolyte for unexpected situations -- hot weather, losing a packet or so on the way etc.
  3. Carry salt tabs both fro run and bike again when exceptionally hot and starting to feel bloated.
  4. Foam roll regularly.
  5. Do tracks and interval workouts for run to improve run efficiency and performance since its the next segment where I can shave off some time.

Expected time to finish a 70.3 as per training:

  1. Swim: 1:00 with T1
  2. Bike: 3:40 with T2
  3. Run: 2:30.

TOTAL: 7:10-7:30.

NOTE: These are NOT the targets for me to out-do myself. These are realistic goals with a bit of optimism (rather than a wishful time target). Lets see how the Ironman Vineman 70.3 goes (July 10, 2016)!

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