more Β»" />

Half Ironman Mental Preparation

by Meghann on May 4, 2011

A couple of months ago I did something crazy

I registered for my first Half Ironman.

Screen shot 2011-03-12 at 9.05.10 AM.png


Call it peer pressure… a moment of insanity… a new challenge… Call it what-ever. The credit card has been charged, the idea has been planted, and – come hell or high water – I will be swimming, cycling, and running my little heart out come September 25th.


Now that I’m officially registered, I’ve suddenly become uber-sensitive to all things half ironman related. The same thing happened when I registered for my first marathon. Back then I noticed every single marathon race tee, 26.2 sticker, runner on the road, etc. Now I notice every half ironman race tee, 70.3 sticker, ironman tattoo, and find myself googling ‘half ironman race recaps’ just to see what was going through other people’s minds as they completed their race. I’m obsessed.

Tattoo IM.JPG


When I registered I thought in the back of my mind “it’s months away, I have plenty of time to train and prepare myself.” The goal was to ‘pre-train‘ by re-introducing myself to the bike and water and begin officially training in May.

Well, guess what? It’s May! Time to start training.

err… time to start thinking about training. First, I need a plan!

Want to know a dirty little secret? I never properly trained for my first sprint triathlon ( I sort of winged it – DO NOT SUGGEST THIS!). I was training for my first marathon and the triathlon was just something to check off the list along the way. For my second – I trained and rocked it. But, for my olympic? I fell flat. I began training for Chicago and my ‘eyes on the prize’ mentality shifted focus to the larger race.

This time around I want to commit myself 100% to half ironman training. This means, no training for other races while training for the HIM, not favoring running over cycling or biking (I’m bad at doing this!), and sticking to a real training plan.

This is where I need your help. I need a plan!

I’ve found a couple of HIM training plans online, but if you’ve completed one yourself or have any advice, I would really appreciate it. I’m weak in both swimming and cycling and would love a plan that focuses on strengthening those two points. I also work best with plans that are laid out pretty clear in black and white. i.e. Tuesday: Run 3 miles, Cycle 12 miles, etc. Thursday: 1 brick, swim 250 meters. etc.

And if you know of any HIM recaps, please share! I’m obsessed with them lately. Talk about motivating!

I’ve also decided to officially commit to the local YMCA and join the Tampa Tri Team. If I’m going to succeed, I know I need the support from teammates to help me get there. I work best with training buddies and there are three or four other tri-team members who are also training for Augusta.

The best part of all? Augusta will be a family event. I’ll be virtually training with my sister and brother, who have also committed to the 70.3 distance in September. Better than completing this racing milestone by myself, I’ll be completing it with my best friends.


I’m pumped. I’m excited. I’m ready for this next adventure!

It’s a new challenge and I know I’m going to rock it.

Ready or not Augusta – the countdown has officially begun!

1 Kara May 4, 2011 at 10:20 am

Those Ironman tattoos crack me up, only because I use the BOB Ironman stroller which has that same symbol. I see that symbol and think “Running with my baby” not “hardcore athlete” lol

I can’t wait to read about your training!
Kara recently posted..Some days

2 Kaitlin May 4, 2011 at 10:21 am

You guys are going to be so awesome! Can’t wait to follow your training.
Kaitlin recently posted..18 Miles- Tour de Holland

3 Michelle May 4, 2011 at 10:21 am

I follow a blog – 5 miles to empty – and she is training for a half ironman race and I think it is in 2 weeks or something. She had a big crash on her bike a few weeks back (the bruises on her body were horrendous!) . I think she posted her plan when she first started training.
Here is a link to her blog:
Michelle recently posted..Our Move to Germany

4 Ellie @ The Mommyist May 4, 2011 at 10:24 am

I kinda forgot you were doing this. I look forward to reading about your training. How inspirational!
Ellie @ The Mommyist recently posted..Stir Crazy

5 Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun May 4, 2011 at 10:28 am

I don’t have training plan suggestions…but I am excited for you! And hopefully I’ll get to see you then too since you’ll be relatively close.
Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun recently posted..Self-Love Reflection- Eating Naturally

6 Teresa May 4, 2011 at 10:31 am

Hi Meghann, I have been following your blog for a while now and I absolutely love it. I was drawn in originally by the similarities of our stories, from weight loss to love of endurance sports. I started running in college and have not stopped since. I like you have completed numerous marathons and halves, but was looking for another challenge. I had done a few sprint triathlons last summer and one Olympic in the fall, all very casual, with my family and mostly for fun. Over the holidays this year I was bitten by the “tri bug” and signed up for the Ironman San Juan 70.3 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and am happy and proud to say that I completed the race in March. It was the experience of a lifetime and I actually did quite well for a rookie (so i have been told) finishing in right over 6 hours. I found a great training plan on line (I will email you the link) and would be happy to answer any questions you may have. I am hooked and will be doing another race in August, the Ironman Timberman 70.3 in New Hampshire. I look forward to reading your training updates and training along with you. Best of luck! Keep up the good work!!

7 chloe @ 321delish May 4, 2011 at 10:34 am

I am also training for a 1/2 Ironman! Mine is in July so I am a bit further along in the training process. I am happy to help out with a training plan or tips along the way. I have a plan that was put together for me by a triathlete and personal trainer. I am originally a swimmer, so definitely feel free to ask if you need some swim workouts!
chloe @ 321delish recently posted..A Pile of Bricks

8 Liv @ The Salty n' Sweet May 4, 2011 at 10:35 am

Ah good luck! I can’t imagine doing 70.5 miles of anything… The most I’ve done was 30 miles of biking, and I couldn’t even walk or sit the next day.

But I’m sure you’re gonna train your butt off πŸ˜€
Liv @ The Salty n’ Sweet recently posted..Buckwheat Noodles- Two Ways

9 Karen May 4, 2011 at 10:36 am

Excited for you! I am also training for Augusta. I had looked at a few different plans. Kinowing myself all too well, I decided to go with something that was simple, xx yards swimming, xx cycling, xx run. I found one at I can’t get the link to come up now but if you are interested, I can email mine to you. Very straightforward with yardage and miles. Can’t wait to read about your training!

10 Angela May 4, 2011 at 10:37 am

That’s awesome! Congrats! I belong to the Tampa Y also, and have thought about checking out that Tri team as my boyfriend and I train for our first Sprint Tri. But honestly, I am too intimidated!! Good for you for getting out there. Can’t wait to see some of your posts about the team.

11 Jenny @ Fitness Health and Food May 4, 2011 at 10:46 am


You’re going to do amazingly in your tri! I recommend checking out Tom Holland’s 12 week to triathlon programs. I’m not sure if they are available online but I borrowed mine from my city public library. Here is the link

Really reasonable time commitment.

best wishes with your training. It’s so great that you’re training virtually with your fam! πŸ™‚
Jenny @ Fitness Health and Food recently posted..Southwest Half Marathon Race Recap

12 Jenny @ Fitness Health and Food May 4, 2011 at 10:48 am

One more note that you’re probably already on top of but I like to share is definitely structure your training to work most on sport that you’re weakest in.

Most of us are stronger runners and are used to running but we have to make sure to get that biking and/or swimming skill time in! πŸ™‚

13 malinda May 4, 2011 at 10:48 am

I have a friend who did the Ironman Arizona this past November. He did a recap of his race experience on his blog ( in case you were interested.
Good Luck!

14 Liz May 4, 2011 at 10:51 am

I think the custom free training plans at are great. I’m doing my first sprint this summer and like you, really want to stick to something where there’s clear base training. You can pick your distance, pick your focus, and move around your workouts to best suit your schedule.

Then, I took that plan and recreated it in a new Google Calendar that runs alongside my regular calendar, so I always have that info right there!

15 Meredith May 4, 2011 at 10:53 am

You will do great!

I signed up for my first triathlon (half-IM) and will be competing on the same day as you, although I will be in Maryland! πŸ™‚
Meredith recently but good weekend

16 Rae May 4, 2011 at 12:28 pm

ohhh are you doing Chesman? I am!!
Rae recently posted..Taste the Rainbow

17 Meredith May 4, 2011 at 2:11 pm

I am! Doing the SkipJack, although it’s not a complete Half-Ironman distance, it’s good enough for me! πŸ™‚ I am kind of nervous. I swim and run, I’m just not as experienced on the bike!
Meredith recently but good weekend

18 Holly @ The Runny Egg May 4, 2011 at 10:54 am

Well good luck with the training! Sounds intense! But I’m glad that you are doing this with your brother and sister!
Holly @ The Runny Egg recently posted..Pizza Bread

19 Kim May 4, 2011 at 10:57 am

Well I’m nowhere near ready for a half ironman, but I am planning on signing up for a sprint triathlon. I really appreciated your recap, but would LOVE some more information. Specifically tips on training, what to wear and transitions. Do you have any suggestions of where else to look for info? Thanks!

PS you are super hardcore!

20 KitKat @ Pursuit of Happiness May 4, 2011 at 11:07 am

So exciting about the upcoming half ironman!

If you haven’t already, check out Chuck’s site Feerless Food: He does a ton of ironmans, shares his training (and prep) and gives great advice!
KitKat @ Pursuit of Happiness recently posted..Cold feet

21 Ali @ Around the VeggieTable May 4, 2011 at 11:13 am

YAY! I love that you are doing this with your bro and sis! It’s always nice to have someone to share the joys and pains of training with πŸ™‚ Good luck!

22 Rae May 4, 2011 at 11:17 am

Sooo exciting!! Ive done a few HIMs, the plan I follow is here:

Its a great plan, you can tweak it to fit your schedule, but in my opinion, did a great job preparing me for the HIM. I also followed their plan for my Ironman last year….its not a HIm, but my race recap is here:

Beginner Triathlete is also a great place to get tips on how to prep and to post questions during your training. Please email me if you have any questions at all…i would love to help!!
Rae recently posted..Taste the Rainbow

23 Meghann May 4, 2011 at 11:43 am

Just read your recap. You did amazing. And completing 70 miles on the bike after a crash with a crooked tire? Inspiring! Thank you for sharing your story!

24 Rae May 4, 2011 at 11:47 am

Thanks! Its the sort of crap that either makes or breaks you….made me sign up for another Ironman πŸ™‚ I know you’re gona rock this!!
Rae recently posted..Taste the Rainbow

25 Michelle May 4, 2011 at 11:21 am

Yay! Excited to read about your training πŸ™‚ I think joining a Tri Team is an awesome idea.
Michelle recently posted..Confession Wednesday- I Have the Itch

26 Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat May 4, 2011 at 11:29 am

Woooo! This is so exciting! Sadly I don’t have any tips to share as I haven’t competed in a half Iron Man (or any other triathlon of significant distance!) in the past, but I’m really interested to hear about your training!
Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat recently posted..April Goal Check-In

27 Theresa May 4, 2011 at 11:29 am

I would LOVE to do a tri! (I just completed my 3rd marathon). However, all I have is a mountain bike. Is that bad? Will I look like the new kid if I complete a tri with a mountain bike?

28 Meghann May 4, 2011 at 11:55 am

You’d be surprised how many newbies have mountain bike at sprint tris!

29 Kate (What Kate is Cooking) May 4, 2011 at 11:34 am

How exciting! I think so much of training is mental. If you’re excited about it, you willl do awesome!
Kate (What Kate is Cooking) recently posted..OC Half Marathon

30 Lara May 4, 2011 at 11:37 am

I would probably run 4-7 miles two days during the week, cycle 10-20 miles two days during the week, and swim 1500-2000 meters once. That said, I’m a pretty strong swimmer so if you’re not, then add a swim somewhere else. Do a brick on Saturdays working up to biking about 60-70 miles followed by a run working up to 10 miles. Obviously it will take a while to get there, start with maybe a 10-12 mile bike and a 3-4 mile run and slowly build up. You don’t need to run more than 10 miles, my bf never did more than 13 when training for a full Ironman and he did great. Good luck!

31 Marianne May 4, 2011 at 11:39 am

I have quite a few friends who will be doing the Augusta HIM….it’s Augusta not Augustus by the way:-)….. I am contemplating it! You might want to check out Steve in a Speedo?! Gross! He does lots of triathlons and is quite humorous

Or Shut up and Run…she is starting to train for an upcoming HIM (her first one too I think)
This website might help you out too
Good luck with the swimming. That is the hardest part to me. I love running and cycling but hate swimming!

32 Meghann May 4, 2011 at 11:58 am

Thanks I thought I had caught all of my ‘Augustus’ I guess not. πŸ™‚

33 Donna May 4, 2011 at 11:39 am

Okay, I’ve been following your blog for a while. I’ve been on a super long search for my inner runner, and have come close (at times) to finding her. It’s going to be a long search. πŸ™‚ But…. now you’re talking 70.3 and that’s my thing. I think as a runner, you can generally wing a Sprint or Oly — not recommended, but you can. You hit the nail on the head with the title “mental prep” — 99% of triathlon is mental toughness. I”m super excited for your decision and can’t wait to follow your training. I just did my second, Ironman Texas 70.3 in Galveston. I’m returning to Redman in OKC this year, September, for another one. I’m hooked. πŸ™‚

34 Meghann May 4, 2011 at 11:59 am

Thanks Donna! I’m trying to find my inner cyclist and swimmer now. Maybe we can both help each other along the way? πŸ™‚

35 nacho lindsay May 4, 2011 at 11:41 am

Congrats, you badass!
nacho lindsay recently posted..Island Bar and Grill- Omaha NE

36 Jamie aka "Sometimes Healthy" Girl May 4, 2011 at 11:43 am

Wow – impressive! I will never be able to do Iron Man because I don’t bike…or swim. Just marathons for me πŸ™‚

I think it’s so great that you’re doing this with your family. What a great idea. Good luck!
Jamie aka “Sometimes Healthy” Girl recently posted..Given to Fly- Take that Runner’s Block!

37 Meghann May 4, 2011 at 12:00 pm

I don’t bike or swim either, but I’m willing to learn! πŸ™‚

38 Theresa May 4, 2011 at 11:44 am

I seriously can’t fathom a HIM right now! I still struggle with Half Marathons to begin with (I’m a slow poke) and I just can’t imagine doing one AFTER biking and swimming. But, I’ve totally been bitten by the Triathlon Bug. I’ve completed two sprints so far & am planning another one this summer, plus my first Olympic this fall!

For some good/easy-to-follow training programs try or Their plans are pretty easy to follow & you don’t really have to be a beginner/newbie to benefit from them!
Theresa recently posted..Old Flame v New Love

39 Eric May 4, 2011 at 12:04 pm

My HIM will be my first event that I will not be following a training plan. A great book that I read was “Triathlete’s Training Bible”. There are not plans in there but the book is laid out like a college texts book with a ton of useful information. I did look at a couple of training plans and got a rough number for the hours per week to exercise. Rachel just got a training plan from that she is currently using for her upcoming sprint tri. Working out in groups help a ton especially swimming if you have a coach.
Eric recently posted..A Day In A Life Of A Moose

40 Kasey May 4, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Hey Meghann! I’ve been reading your blog for a while – My husband and I just did the Napa Valley Vintage 70.3 HIM last weekend for our first wedding anniversary (yes, we like to celebrate major events with races, I ran a 10K on our wedding day). I am a strong runner (2 marathons – 3:43 PR, 5 half – 1:43 PR) and swimmer. Biking is my weak spot. I had a really strong swim (45 minutes) in adverse conditions, it was super windy and there were whitecaps in the lake, and the water temp was only 58* (I didn’t have a wetsuit). The bike killed me. It took me 4 and a half hours and the bike course was really really hilly. I wanted to quit so many times during the bike! I rocked the run (I think I was just happy to be off of the bike) and ran a decent 2:06 half marathon. All in all, it was a great experience and accomplishment, but I would need to get a lot stronger at biking before I do it again!

41 grace May 4, 2011 at 12:28 pm

You’re going to do awesome! 70.3 is my favorite distance to race. You don’t have to rush (there’s time to pee) and you have plenty of time to get warmed up. I’m taking tri season of this year to train for an Ultra in October but am currently trying to decide what 70.3 and full to sign up for for 2012. I’m in Tampa too and if you ever want a training buddy I am always up for some swim/bike/run.
grace recently posted..Update

42 Jessica May 4, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Good luck on the half Ironman training! I have done two halfs and one full Ironman now and for my first half I used the free training plan on It got me to the finish line in one piece!

You can check out my two half Ironman race reports and my full Ironman race report at my blog that I used to write on (for the purpose of being able to look back to see all my accomplishments!):

I stopped writing after I finished my Ironman, so that race report is in the most recent posts, but the race reports for my Half Ironmans have links on the right. The first Half I did was a much smaller race, but then my second Half last summer was an Ironman sponsored event, so the crowds and organization will be similar to your race. Ironman puts on a good race, that’s for sure! Of course, you’re paying a pretty penny for it :).

You’ll feel so accomplished running across that finish line!

43 Meghann May 4, 2011 at 1:05 pm

Thanks Jessica! I appreciate the motivation!

44 Ash @ Good Taste Healthy Me May 4, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Very exciting! I’ve never done a race, let alone an ironman! Good luck! I’m sure you’ll rock it out!
Ash @ Good Taste Healthy Me recently posted..Threshold Training

45 Shannon May 4, 2011 at 1:10 pm

So awesome that you are doing a half ironman! I am training for my first sprint triathlon right now and I am so excited!
Shannon recently posted..Very Hot Run

46 Laura May 4, 2011 at 1:52 pm

I did my first triathlon last month and am doing an Olympic-distance for Team in Training next month and I’m hooked! I do the same thing… browsing through all my favorite blogs and re-reading any triathlon posts! I would love for you to share your favorite tri resources (and recaps, because I’m so obsessed) you find!

47 rebecca lustig May 4, 2011 at 2:15 pm

that is sooo awesome! good luck!

48 Molly May 4, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Congrats on registering for your first HIM! My boyfriend actually did the Augusta 70.3 last year as his first HIM and loved it! I traveled down to Augusta with him (from Baltimore, MD), and on a whim signed up for my first 10K that took place the day before the 70.3 If you need any tips/advice as to what the Augusta 70.3 is like, let me know and I will forward you along to him! One thing to keep in mind – it is hot that time of year πŸ™‚ Good luck with training!!!

49 Meghann May 4, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Thanks Molly! I’ll appreciate any help I can get. I’ve heard nothing, but good things about the course – I’m pumped!

50 Kacy May 4, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Kacy recently posted..Fact-Speculation

51 Emma (Namaste Everyday) May 4, 2011 at 3:42 pm

I can’t wait to learn more about it myself from your blog! πŸ™‚

52 Megan @ On the Road Again May 4, 2011 at 5:51 pm

I’ve never ventured into HIM territory, but good luck to you! That is such an awesome goal to have and be training for!
Megan @ On the Road Again recently posted..Great Odins Raven Training Plan!

53 Lisa (bakebikeblog) May 4, 2011 at 6:13 pm

You will just LOVE this race – but I truly believe that the biggest part is the training! It was quite the committment when I trained and raced one last year – but rewarding all the same.

Here is my recap:
Lisa (bakebikeblog) recently posted..Marjoram – the herb of happiness

54 Jena May 4, 2011 at 9:19 pm

A guy that I went to school with, and his wife, did Ironman Cozumel in November.,0,2218259.columnist There is a link to her “blog.” She is a reporter for a TV station in Cali and she reported some of her training.

Good Luck with training!
Jena recently posted..Holy shoulders

55 Honey B. Nutrition May 4, 2011 at 10:53 pm

WOW!! That is AMAZING!! Very excited for you and VERY impressed.
Honey B. Nutrition recently posted..Concluding a Cleanse

56 Tri Guy June 10, 2011 at 9:12 pm

I’m tempted to do the Augusta 70.3. I have friends who did it last year and loved it. There is a large group from Jacksonville that is coming up to do the race. Who knows, I may be with them. One positive note for you to take in on this race is that you are swimming down river. That’s HUGE! You could literally float on your back (and i recommend a wetsuit) and finish in 35 minutes. I heard they they threw a tree branch in the water at the start last year and it crossed the finish line of the swim in 30 minutes. Best of luck and have fun. I’m writing about preparing yourself for your first Half Ironman on my blog. I’ll be adding more and more stuff. Come check it out. My main points are going to be leading up to the race and how to pace yourself. It has worked like a charm for me!


Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: