7 tips for preparing for your first Ironman triathlon
We all know how popular the fictional superhero and infamous Avenger Iron Man is, but what about the other kind of Ironman, the Ironman triathlon? Well, as it happens, Ironman triathlons are also incredibly popular, though they are certainly not easy, and not just for anybody. If you aren’t familiar with Ironman triathlons, basically, they consist of three stages – swimming, cycling, and marathon running. The entire event lasts just over 140 miles, with 2.4 miles coming from swimming, 112 miles from cycling, and 26.2 miles coming from the final marathon stage. Needless to say, those kinds of numbers cannot be achieved by just anybody, and if you aren’t sure what you’re getting yourself into, it’s vital that you do your research. Ironman triathlon athletes are considered the best of the best, and no matter how fit you think you are, if this is your first ironman, you are going to struggle, both with the prep, and with the event itself. However, nothing in life worth having comes easily, so if you are willing to work hard, the rewards will be evident. To help make your training that little bit easier the first time around, take a look at the following, as we provide you with a variety of useful training and prep hints and tips to help get you in shape for your first ironman triathlon.
Ensure you are consistent
Above image courtesy of Bikelist
When training for a triathlon, and any other endurance event for that matter, it is essential that you remember that consistency is the key to success. Basically, this means that you must always be willing to work hard when training, you must keep up your energy levels and motivational rates, you must stick to your diet, and you must always stick to your training. It doesn’t matter how tired you feel, or how bad your day has been, if you are thinking of skipping a training session then you really shouldn’t be entering an Ironman event in the first place. It’s all well and good working your butt off whilst training in the early stages, but if you start to get cocky and slack off as you get fitter, your performance will suffer, and come race day, you’ll be in for a very rude awakening.
Work with a coach
Ideally when training for an endurance event, you will want to work with an experienced coach who will be able to assist you every step of the way. Prepping for your first triathlon is very time-consuming and very complex, and there is a lot to get your head around. That is why it’s so great to work with an experienced and qualified coach. Working with a coach will take some of the burden off of your shoulders, as you can leave the logistics to them. Basically, rather than you having to sit down and work out your training regime, as well as your diet and nutrition, your coach will take care of that for you. They will tell you what to do, and you just go ahead and do it.
Practice all three disciplines equally
Remember, the whole point of an Ironman triathlon is to test your physical and mental abilities and to push your body to its limits over the course of three events. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a good cyclist or not, you should still spend an equal amount of time working on your cycling, as you would with your swimming and long-distance running. How you structure your training is down to you and/or your coach, but ideally you must make sure that it includes plenty of swimming, plenty of cycling, and plenty of long-distance running.
Practice your own mini triathlons
Once you’re confident that your fitness and endurance is where it needs to be, the next thing you need to do is to combine all three disciplines into one. Basically, practice your own mini triathlons and see how you get on. Begin by swimming, then as soon as you leave the water, hop onto your bike and cycle, before finishing off with some long-distance running. Start with small distances to assess your fitness, and then build on these with each passing session. Training in this manner is important because it will help you get a feel of what the actual event is going to feel like. It also allows you to work on your transition from one discipline to the next. It may not sound like much, but wasting a few seconds getting onto your bike after leaving the water, could be the difference between winning or losing.
Train in all conditions
As you might expect, Ironman triathlons are held outdoors, and they certainly aren’t weather-dependent. If it happens to be cold, wet, and windy on the day of the event, then that is just too bad. Because of this, you need to ensure that you train outdoors in adverse conditions, to help prepare you. If it’s raining, don’t decide to just jog on the treadmill in a nice warm gym, instead, get your butt outside, get in the rain, and get training!
Dial in your nutrition
The problem that many triathlon runners face, isn’t eating too much food, it’s actually struggling to eat enough food. When you’re working that hard, and covering those types of distances, you are going to be burning off some major calories, and will need a lot of energy. Make sure you get plenty of clean, fresh, and healthy foods, but don’t worry too much about counting calories. What’s more, if you feel hungry, then eat, because hunger is you body’s way of telling you it needs energy, and a lack of energy is not practical in the slightest when it comes to Ironman triathlons.
Don’t forget your supplements
In the lead up to the event, as well as during the event, supplements will play an important role. You will want protein and amino acids for muscular growth and recovery, you may want creatine for athletic performance, not to mention bars and gels for quick energy and nutrients when you’re on the go.