5 tips to run a 70.3 Ironman, the easy way

One of the most demanding triathlon distances — after the full-distance race, of course — is that of the half-distance triathlon; also known as the 70.3 Ironman. In this race, the participants are called to compete in three different disciplines; each of them, on their own, making up a challenging kilometer distance. 

To clarify, the 70.3 Ironman race consists of:

  • 1.9 km (1.2 mi) swim,
  • 90 km (56 mi) bike, and 
  • 21.1 km (13.1 mi) run.

And that’s what the “70.3” refers to.

Most endurance athletes choose to compete in this distance, mainly because they’ve participated, at least once, in the full distance. However, many athletes that have not participated in the full-distance triathlon choose this race, too — to test the waters. Below, we offer some tips that will help all triathletes manage this distance, much more easily.

Going for a 70.3 Ironman race? Here’s what you need to know

So you’ve decided to compete in the 70.3 Ironman race. That’s great! You’re in for an exciting athletic experience. But, before you plunge into the race, there are a few things you need to consider, first.

1. Integrate mental preparation into your training

Just as athletes train their bodies to last through — or even excel in —  a race, so, too, they should train their minds. Besides, mental preparation is a method many good coaches integrate into training. So, how do you prepare mentally for the 70.3 Ironman? 

Envision yourself participating in the race; that is, create an image of yourself competing in each sport. This will greatly help you manage all the emotions that you may pop up during the race. Also, it will help visualize and assimilate techniques that may be useful in the race.

2. Be realistic about your race pace

In a race environment, it’s very easy to get carried away by the flow; and, without realizing it, “lock in” at a faster pace than you can handle. This can also happen because you feel strong enough to endure a faster pace. It goes without saying, if you succumb to this temptation, sooner or later, you’ll be feeling worn out.

Instead, start the race by choosing a group in the swimming leg, and stick with it. Make sure that the athletes in the group are closer to your athletic level, and capabilities. Moreover, keep in mind the total mileage you have to cover, if you want to change the course of action, at some point during the race. You must be absolutely certain that you can pull it through, before you change the tactics you’ve agreed upon with your coach, during training.

3. Don’t try something new

Well, that’s a tip that applies on many levels. 

First of all, it applies to the equipment, the clothing, as well as the fuel supply (energy drinks, bars, gels, etc.) you’ll be using in the race. You need to try all these things during training, more than once. That’s because you need to be sure that you know how to use the equipment, that the clothes and shoes are comfortable, and that the fuel supply covers your needs in energy; and, of course, that it won’t upset your gastrointestinal system. 

Other than that, th is tip also applies to the technique you’re going to follow in the three legs; as well as the bike setup. Hence, here too, you need to put both the technique and the bike to the test, during training. By all means, do not try something new in the race, it may not suit you, and may even negatively affect your performance.

4. Become familiar with the transition zone

Without a doubt, there will be hundreds, even thousands of bikes in the transition area. Imagine getting there and not being able to find yours. Pretty stressful right? Therefore, to avoid panic and have a seamless bike-to-run transition, it’s important to know exactly where your bike is parked, beforehand. The only way to remember your bike’s parking spot is to make mental notes of the surroundings. Also, take a good look at the route you need to follow, from the entrance of the transition zone to the exit.

5. Enjoy your 70.3 Ironman race

Whatever happens, remember to enjoy the race, from the beginning to the end. You’ve spent so many hours of training every day for this race; and, often, under difficult conditions. So enter the race with a smile and live every moment to the full. Even if things don’t go as planned, don’t be discouraged and do your best under those circumstances. Keeping a positive attitude; enjoying the event until the end, will make your effort count.

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A few extra tips, to nail the 70.3 Ironman race

The 70.3 Ironman distance is, indeed, a demanding race. So, what you need to do before the race — apart from everything we’ve mentioned so far — is to set realistic goals, be consistent with your training program, and trust in your coach. They know how to guide you safely, toward maximizing your performance. Whatever the result of the race, you’ll gain race experience and create some great memories; and, you’ll be filled with even more excitement for the triathlon races that will follow — we did warn you, your first Ironman won’t be your last!

5 tips to run a 70.3 Ironman, the easy way was last modified: April 7th, 2023 by Marilena Kokkinou