The ultimate Ironman 70.3 brick workout

A four-week Ironman 70.3 training plan including a brick workout to simulate race day, assess your fitness and practice nutrition needs.

| April 18, 2017 | TRAINING

by Mike Ricci

The countdown to racing season has begun for athletes in the Northern Hemisphere, however, some of you might not be feeling quite ready to toe the line. Do you have that uncertain feeling in your gut that your winter training hasn’t gotten you prepared for your early Ironman 70.3 races? If so, now is the time to complete some Ironman 70.3 brick workouts in order to properly assess your fitness.

With an Ironman 70.3 race simulation-style brick workout (or two), you can alleviate those “am I ready for this?” fears and arrive on race morning with confidence. Before you throw in a brick workout of this distance, you need to ask yourself the following questions about your benchmark fitness to make sure you are ready for this type of load:

1) Have you been consistent with your training (including your long runs)?

2) Have you worked on both technique and speed in the pool?

3) Have you maintained a bike schedule that includes a mix of high-intensity efforts with tempo or 70.3-distance efforts?

Brick Workout Logistics

This Ironman 70.3 brick workout is abbreviated as it is mostly indoors, but it is still challenging. It begins with a tough, race-pace swim, followed by a run, then an indoor bike session and finally another run leg.

I have provided a free workout plan containing these workouts that you can download and apply to your plan instantly. You will have the option to do this workout using Functional Threshold Power (FTP) on the bike and Threshold Run Pace, or you will be able to use a format for both legs of the workout that works with Lactate Threshold Heart Rate.

Ideally you will be able to transition from the swim portion to the first run section as quickly as possible to simulate race conditions, but anytime within one hour is acceptable. Since the bike portion is done indoors, you could ideally have your trainer set up either next to the treadmill or at the finish point of your first run to officiate quick transitions.  

Ironman 70.3 Brick Workout*

2,000- to 3,000-meter swim

I recommend doing this workout at as close to 70.3 intensity as possible. Your goal is to achieve the 70.3-style effort of a 1.2 mile swim, knowing you still have a solid bike and run effort in front of you.

4-mile run

Run two miles at a warm-up pace in low-to-mid Zone 2 HR, then increase to high Zone 2 HR for the next two miles. Prepare for a quick transition to an indoor trainer.

2-hour indoor trainer session

The bike will consist of 4 x 30 minute blocks. Our goal is to be able to ride some of the intervals at an effort that’s actually above goal Ironman 70.3 power/heart rate, with the majority of the ride at 70.3 effort. It will break down as follows:

Block #1

  • 15 minutes at 75 percent of FTP
  • 15 minutes at 80 percent of FTP

Block #2

  • 10 minutes at 75 percent of FTP
  • 10 minutes at 82 percent of FTP
  • 10 minutes at 90 percent of FTP

Block #3

  • 12 minutes at 80 percent of FTP
  • 8 minutes at 85 percent of FTP
  • 10 minutes at 92 percent of FTP

Block #4

  • 3 minutes at 75 percent of FTP
  • 12 minutes at 82 percent of FTP
  • 10 minutes at 88 percent of FTP
  • 5 minutes at 92 percent of FTP

Tip: Downloading this workout to your computer to use with Trainer Road, Zwift or Perf Pro will stop you from having to write down the entire workout and save you some time.

4-mile run #2

Hop off your bike with a quick transition for the second run. This second run will tell you if you have been pacing correctly and/or if you have been staying on top of your race-day fueling plan. Run the first mile at a hard effort or low Zone 3 HR. The next two miles will be in Zone 4, and the final mile will be your best effort, most likely topping out into low Zone 5 (if you’ve paced the workout properly).  

*If you have the opportunity to make this an outdoor workout, you can modify it with 10 to 11 miles of running and 50 to 55 miles on the bike, helping you achieve combined mileage closer to the Ironman 70.3 distance.

Workout Goals

The bike should work out to around 83 percent of FTP, which is a solid effort for an indoor workout, and without any external motivation like fellow competitors. The run should end up at around 70 TSS points for a one hour run, making it a pretty hard race effort.

Don’t despair if you feel as though you can’t hit your goal numbers on the bike or run the first time around. The reason that we train and try race simulation workouts is so we can be prepared on race day. Learning from hard workouts, like this one, is how we improve and understand our limiters. The key to long distance racing is pacing and nutrition, so keep working on your objectives and keep striving to hit your goals.

When and Why to Do This Workout

  1. How is my fitness?
  2. Will my nutrition plan hold up?
  3. What type of wattage can I hold for my 70.3 bike leg?
  4. What is a reasonable run pace for me off-the-bike?

This Ironman 70.3 brick workout can be done six-to-eight weeks out from your race, and can be repeated four weeks out as well as a final race-ready target assessment. This workout will help answer the following:

Mark your calendar to try this race simulation workout and let me know if you have any questions. Good luck!

Interested in some other workouts to get you ready to race? Get a boost in your training with this FREE D3 Multisport four-week training plan, completely based on power, heart rate and TSS.

Mike Ricci is a Level III USAT Certified Coach and was honored as the USAT Coach of the Year. He is the founder and head coach of D3 Multisport. The three D’s, Desire, Determination and Discipline are the cornerstone for his coaching philosophies. The D3 coaches use evidence-based training science, technology and wisdom to guide athletes toward their multisport goals. D3 inspires others through their community of athletes who are great ambassadors of the sport.