Ring the Bell, Half Ironman Training’s Begun

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Hello! How has everyone been after the holidays? Come out of the food coma nicely? Or powered through it with Turkey Trots, post-Thanksgiving races and all that energy you expend putting up the Christmas lights on the house?

Just throwing the lights stuff out there because I noticed all the neighbors doing it this weekend, while cleaning my bike. Look how pretty and clean. Also, yes: views. I’ve been riding quite a bit these days, and swimming and running. Half Ironman training is officially on!

I’ve got one week down and things are getting… interesting.

First off, the plan has me doing each sport (swim, bike, run) three times a week. Do the math: nine workouts in seven days. But one of them is a rest day, thank you very much, so that leaves us with six days. Which means I better get used to training twice a day. And my family better get used to stinky hair because there’s no way I’m washing it 9x a week. Unless Santa brings me this big sexy hair powder shampoo, so I can have big sexy hair for the holidays without actually washing my hair. Just saying.

But that is not all.

In addition to officially starting HIM training, I’ve been dipping my toes into the so-called Maffetone Method: in short, a way of training by monitoring your heart rate, rather than your pace or speed. I won’t try to explain it in details, or I’ll surely mess it up, but basically, I now have to keep my heart rate at or below a certain threshold (180 minus age), while running for a set period of time (rather than distance).

Just FYI, that is very, very difficult. Not because you have to run fast, but because you have to keep your pace way slower than you’re used to. I’ve been doing this for a week and a half now and all my runs – four miles or shorter – have averaged about a 10-minute mile.


But conversations with people who’ve done it, as well as lots of reading about it, all tell me one thing: trust the system, stick with it. The benefits — better endurance, faster pace — should begging to manifest themselves in about two months. Hopefully, by Oceanside 70.3, I’ll be in tip-top shape.

We’ll see.

So anyway. For the curious, here’s what my first week of HIM training looked like, and I promise I’ll try to check in here at least once a week to give you a rundown of my workouts — and hair situation, because obviously the hair is what matters most:

Monday, Nov 25:
Morning: 40-minute run, first day of Maffetone training (or MAF, for short). Covered 4.07 miles, avg pace 9:49.
Evening: swim, long day, 4x 500 yards. (2,000 yards ain’t that long, I was thinking… but knowing I’d have only a night’s sleep to rest before I had to train again kind of put things in a different perspective.)

Tuesday, Nov 26:
Morning: 30-min run, felt even slower than the previous day’s – yet my pace was 9:49 exactly. 3.07 miles.
Evening: 60-minute bike ride, easy pedaling. Hit the stationary bike at the gym.

Wednesday, Nov 27:
Swim: 250 easy + 5x 50 odds 100%, evens recovery + 2x 400 + 200 easy. Total: 1500, roughly 30 minutes. Had to wake up at 5:30 a.m. for this. Sigh.

Thursday, Nov 28:
Run: Schedule called for a 60-minute easy run. But this was Thanksgiving, so I ran a Turkey Trot half marathon instead. Oddly, set PR for the distance.

Friday, Nov 29:
Fulfilled my duty as a US resident and went “Black Friday” shopping — at my local bike store. Walked out with a new trainer for a sweet deal.

Saturday, Nov 30:
Morning: Bike 45 minutes, mid 30 on the aerobars. Put the new trainer to good use!
Afternoon: Swim, speed day: 300 + 20×50 + 200 easy. (Finally got under 2-min per 100 yards average… but still, so much work to do!)

Sunday, Dec 1:
Ride: 90 minutes per schedule, but it was a fabulously sunny day, I went riding with friends and ended up doing 35 miles in a little over 2 hours. A fairly flat ride with some excellent hills thrown in, perfect!

And that was Week 1! I’m two days into Week 2 now, which is almost identical to week 1, so I might spare you the details?

How’s everyone’s training (or off-season?) going? If you’ve trained for and done a HIM, could you please share your plan here? I’ll be forever grateful!

3 thoughts on “Ring the Bell, Half Ironman Training’s Begun

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  • December 5, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    Hi Alex, great read as always.

    What trainer did you end up with?

    I’m really, really wanting (I think) the Kurt Kinetic so I can use the Trainer Road software as the power meter (looks like it can extrapolate the wattage from Kurt) and that’s $99 a year which seems like a deal for me who’s value minded and is already seeing the end of the road and has a spare computer for the garage.

    Just wondering if you have a strategy on wattage and workouts and hooking it into a computer etc…

    See you in the pool if you swim Mondays Wednesdays. I’m moving my TriMCA workout to Wednesday starting next week so it’s Swim (5am) Spin Class (5:30) then run after.


    • December 5, 2013 at 2:06 pm

      I got a Trainer Trac from Performance Bike – it’s got zero bells and whistles and I have absolutely no wattage strategy whatsoever… for now 🙂 I don’t even have a bike computer, so trainer workouts are just for time (which is what my plan calls for right now, so it’s OK). I do love the new stationary bikes at the Y though? Ever tried them? The ones with the course/ race simulators where you get to choose a route and can pass the li’l bike people or run them over ha!

      As for swimming, it’s lunch hour on Mondays, after 9:15 on Saturdays (I tried earlier but the aqua aerobics ladies overtook the entire pool!) and Wednesday mornings, I drag my sorry butt to the pool around 6 a.m. Absolutely NO idea how people can make it there at 5? Just crazy. (Of course, I”m just living in denial – the day will come soon when I”ll have to go that early too, when the distances go up. That’s why I’m printing my workouts one week at a time. Better not know…)


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