Half Ironman (70.3) Training: Why?

When I tell people I am training for a 1/2 Ironman most often the first question is, “what’s that?” When I answer that it’s a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, and 13.1 mile run, usually the next question is, “WHY?” And sometimes, “how long does that take?”

Most people I know lump me in the ‘crazy’ category for doing this and I know the overall percentage of people who do these events is small. If marathoners are 1% of the population I’m sure 1/2 Ironmen are a close second (though the 70.3 event has been quickly grown in popularity since its introduction in 2006). I’m ok with ‘crazy’ being part of my answer to ‘why?’ but I do have my reasons.

The idea came to me on the bike portion of my second triathlon, the Smith Mountain Lake Tri which was an Olympic distance event I did in Fall 2009 with my husband, sister- and brother-in-law, and a couple of their friends. On that 26 mile ride I remember thinking “I could go farther.” And I spent the rest of the ride, and weekend, trying to convince myself and others to sign up for a 70.3 event. I knew that I could build the strength and skill to do the swim; I’m a runner so I’m confident in the run portion; and I figured I’d need a lot of work on the bike. So the short answer to ‘why?’ is because I can.

Of course, it’s more than that. I like the challenge–the challenge of training, the learning curve of how to combine three sports in one event, the challenge of incorporating work-outs into life, the challenge of pushing myself harder each time. I love the focus and dedication that training requires. I like seeing myself make progress from one week to the next. I enjoy the feeling of getting stronger and knowing that my endurance is building. I like racing, preparation that goes into a race, pushing for the next personal record, the rush of an event, and the feeling of accomplishment at the end. Can I get all of these things out of shorter events? Absolutely. But I believe I am capable of completing 70.3 and so I am on a mission to do just that.

Yet another answer to ‘why?’ is because others cannot. Though I haven’t participated in Team in Training and I haven’t raced for any specific charity teams, I run, bike, and swim because others do not have the opportunity to do so. I am lucky to have my health and knowing that there are people out there fighting just to live, I am motivated by them to push as hard as I can.

Why do you race? How do you answer “why?”

4 thoughts on “Half Ironman (70.3) Training: Why?

  1. ana

    I race/run because it makes me feel great about myself afterwards. Even if part of me wants to give up in the middle of the event, my selfish side will not let anyone in my age group/female/small to pass me. Will not!

    I’m 17, 100lbs and 4’11 by the way 🙂

  2. Natalie Post author

    Thanks for the comment Ana; sounds like it’s a competitive side rather than a selfish side pushing you forward. 🙂 And competitive drive is definitely a great motivator to run!

  3. Tina

    Wow. Your response to “why” is my same response to people who don’t understand how marathons have become addictive to me, even though I’ve never considered myself a runner or marathoner. I grew up playing team sports, so running by itself was always boring to me. But your response really hit the nail on the head for me. Probably why I’m considering the Austin half IM this fall. Thanks for making me feel at home…as a half IM newbie in training, I have all the same questions you have and it feels so much more do-able knowing this! Best of luck…

  4. Natalie Post author

    Tina, thanks for checking out the blog. I’m glad it hit home for you! I can also relate to your marathon and distance running addiction though I’ve not done anything beyond 26.2. I have a hunch you would really enjoy the training process for the half IM and that you would be able to accomplish it with success. Between now and the fall make sure you get a few sprints and one or two Olympics on the schedule if you can. You can definitely do it. Between blogs and your local triathlon club you will have all the resources you need to get your questions answered. Good luck!


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