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  • Coach Grainge

How to set and understand your 70.3 race pace goals


So you want to have a solid race at your next Half Ironman? You don’t want to make the mistake that we all have in the past of going to hard too soon?

Well in order to create a realistic goal for any race, you must create a training scenario that best replicates race day in order to confidently predict paces and times within your abilities.

Pacing yourself for a half Ironman is challenging, but using the sets below, you can get a realistic view of your fitness level, and pace yourself accordingly on race day.

So do these predictor sets in training to determine the ideal pacing strategy for your next 70.3. We would recommend doing these no closer than 6 weeks out from your A race.

Swim predictor set

Although it’s an excellent predictor of race day time, the 4×500 meter set is not easy! After a warm-up, swim 4×500 on 30 seconds rest, descending each swim by 10 seconds. The pace per 100 of your final 500 should be your 1.2-mile swim time. Add in a wetsuit, taper and a good draft and you may be a little bit faster.

Bike predictor sets

There are three variations of a set that you will choose from based on your estimated goal bike time. The bike portion is based on your FTP number, so if you don’t use a power meter, think of the effort as a percentage of the pace you could maintain for an all-out 20 minute effort. No matter which bike workout you pick, your day will look like this: run 5 miles/bike/run 5 miles.

For the first 5 miles, you’ll run easily and comfortably in Zone 2. This doesn’t have to be hard, nor should it be. Don’t take too much time between the first run and starting the bike.

This bike set is fairly tough and you’ll learn quickly if you’ve over biked. If you are targeting a 2:30 or better bike split, you’ll use Bike A.

If you are targeting 2:30 to 3:00, you’ll use Bike B. And if you are targeting higher than 3:00, you’ll target Bike C.

These bike sets are designed to see if you can handle the higher wattage later in the ride and if you can, great, but if you can’t then you’ll need to back off the power a bit for the race day.

After the bike, you’ll get out the door as fast as you can for your brick run. Your goal is to build the run throughout. If you are looking to really push the run, you can build it as 1.5 miles fast, 1.5 miles faster, and 2 miles at best effort. A slightly less aggressive approach would be to run the first half at a steady Zone 2 effort , then pick up the pace in the second half to finish strong. If you’re worried about the run, a more conservative approach would be to run the 5 miles steady and have something in the tank. This would leave you with some room for error.

Bike pacing: If you can handle the 80–85 percent in the second half of these rides, without issue, then this should be very close to what you can do on race day. With a proper taper, adrenaline from race day, and having a solid plan that you can execute, it will make all the difference.

Run pacing: With all things being equal, meaning good pacing on the bike, proper nutrition, a smart taper, and the excitement of race day, your run pace should very well match the pace you ran for the second run of this test workout.

There are tried-and-true workouts that will have you ready to rock your race day!

RELATED: 70.3 & IRONMAN pacing overview

Predictor Workout Sets

Swim:, 4×500, descending

Run 5 miles, Bike 2:15–3:15 (depending on ability), run 5 miles

Bike A: Warm up for 15 minutes. Then ride 2x the following: 40 minutes at 70–75% of FTP. Then you’ll go right into 20 minutes at 80–85% of FTP. Total ride time is 2:15.

Bike B: Warm up for 15 minutes then ride 3x the following: 35 minutes at 70–75% of FTP, followed by 15 minutes of 80–85% of FTP. Total ride time is 2:45.

Bike C: Warm up for 15 minutes, then ride 3x the following: 45 minutes at 70–72% of FTP, and then 15 minutes at 80–85% of FTP. Total ride time is 3:15.

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