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Ask The Coach : Beginner with zero tri experience wants to do Ironman 70.3! Is it possible?

Jojo Macalintal
  • Coach Jojo “Jomac” Macalintal is the Head Coach of TriMac Coaching and has been doing marathons, triathlons and cycling races for over 15 years. Today he remains a consistent medalist in his respective age category in local triathlons and duathlons.
  • He is a certified level 2 triathlon coach by the INTERNATIONAL TRIATHLON UNION (ITU). Coach Jomac is also a certified level 1 spinning instructor for MADD DOGG ATHLETICS as well as a certified trainer for TRX SUSPENSION TRAINING SYSTEM. To top it off, he’s also the running consultant and an official endorser of ADIDAS PHILIPPINES.
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We got a letter from Alan from Cebu City who’s torn as to whether or not he should do the Ironman 70.3 Philippines Cebu relay or the full 70.3 distance. With zero triathlon experience and such a limited time to train, can he even finish the race?  Find out what Coach Jomac has to say. (First things first, he needs to register ASAP!= cdg)

From Alan :

hi coach! I’m just a beginner who has done a couple of 10k’s and 21k’s here in cebu city. My friends here want to get me as part of the relay team as a runner but I really want to join the full 70.3 distance. As for my cycling background I haven’t done any triathlons yet but I ride almost everyday I just don’t follow any program. Due to work committments I can only do long rides every saturday. Is it possible for a beginner with zero tri experience to finish a 70.3 in just a limited amount of time? Or should I do the relay first? I haven’t swam for the longest time but I was a varsity swimmer when I was in college so I’m quite confident with my swim I just need to get it started. Can you recommend a basic weekly regimen just to get my motors running? My plan is to just keep on swimming straight 2k’s, keep on riding, and make sure that I run at least 2 hours every weekend.

From Coach Jomac :

Hi Alan!

I have several students who are former swimmers also, with zero triathlon experience who joined their first Ironman 70.3 in Camsur this year, with only less than 3 months training. They did well for beginners.
Just some guidelines:
Try to do at least
2 swim sessions per week:
1 aerobic/ endurance (400s)
1 higher intensity (100s or 200s)
remember to do paddle work because triathlons are done in open water
2 bike sessions per week:
You don’t have to do just long, steady pace, you can try:
– 3 hours ride (1st hour moderate, 2nd hour slightly uncomfortable, 3rd hour as fast as you can)
– Or try 4 x 5km time trial, recover easy to moderate 5km in between
2 run sessions per week:
1 steady effort (anywhere from 45 minutes to 1.5 hours)
1 interval session (you can try 8-10 x 5minutes at race effort, 2 minutes easy jog between)
try to join some sprint and standard distance races before the big event, so that you can also practice your nutrition/ hydration and transition techniques. swimming in open water with 1,000 other people is a contact sport



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  1. yes you can, unless you wanna finish on the podium. but yes you can. I am a living proof of last years ironman cam sur. started feb when i bought the bike and finished 6:42 for my very first ever triathlon and i am hooked. there are a few requirements first, the book (triathletes training bible by joe friel, the time, and the heart. so just do it and yes you can.

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