figuring out this whole ironman training thing

On July 23, some 3,000 athletes will be in Lake Placid, New York, ready to jump in Mirror Lake to kick off a very, very long day. I will be one of them.

I’m about five weeks into training for Ironman Lake Placid, and I’ve got a lot of work to do before I’ll be ready to do this thing (a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run, aka a marathon).

The details of these last several weeks aren’t that exciting, but I wanted to share a bit of what’s kept me going so far. Before I  started training, I asked Iron-friends of mine to share with me some tips for first-time Ironmen-in-training (like me).

training for your first ironman: tips from people who’ve done it

These tidbits have really helped me get started, and I’m certain they’ll come in handy throughout this adventure, particularly when I’m feeling worn out.

find buddies

“Swim, bike and/or run with a group. Find someone that’s slightly faster than you and train with him or her. A 5,000-yard swim or 80-mile bike ride is more fun and less daunting if you’re going at it with a friend.” -Kennen

take eating seriously

“Even if you think you have nutrition nailed down, try experimenting with different strategies during your training to see what works best. You can’t just take what works for 70.3 and multiply by 2. Try adding 1000 mg additional salt or more to your plan for a long workout or if you usually eat a gel on a long run every 45-60 min, try slamming gels every 30 min on a long run to see how your body feels.” -Katie

“Practice your nutrition in training. You’re gonna need a lot of nutrition during the race and it’s important to know how your body will respond. Branch out from typical training foods (gels, gu, beans, etc) and try real food in practice. You’re gonna need a lot of calories, and solid food at some point during the day to keep your stomach OK. An over-reliance on exercise food may lead to stomach problems cause of the amount of sugar in them.” -Kennen

suck it up

“Do some training when you feel not so good to see how you can handle it.” -Keith

“Train in inclement weather. It literally rained on me on 3 separate occasions in Ironman Cozumel.” -Kennen

“You will ALWAYS feel tired. So you need to learn how to determine whether it’s the kind of tired that another workout would put you at risk for injury or just the kind of tired you need to put your head down and work through.  If your form is falling off and you think you’re doing more harm than good, it’s OK to pull the plug and rest instead.” -Katie

find a rhythm

“It’s gonna take a lot of time. Thinking back to my first ones — it’s really easy to let it take over all your available time. Make sure you carve out a balanced schedule, with time for family, career and training.” -Jostein

“Be patient. It’s a long hard journey, but crossing that finish line makes it all worth it.” -Keith

and remember what you’re working for

“I have always said that toeing the line at the start of a race is your reward for putting in the hard work and training. I am not so sure this is the case with a full IM. In that case, the reward really is getting to the end of that long day. My advice… settle in for a long ride. Don’t be in a rush to get through the training, resign yourself to the task, be patient, the training days are long, be prepared. Lots of people have done this before you, you KNOW you can get through the race, but HOW do you want to get through the race? Don’t just settle with “finishing,” challenge yourself girlfriend!” -Kelly

Thanks, everyone, for sharing — it’s been really helpful to look back to these words, even in these first few weeks. Anyone have anything to add?

{image: putting on a good face for Mom during IM70.3 Steelhead last year}


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