What I Know Now That I Wish I Knew Then – Tips For First Ironman

Posted on June 9, 2014. Filed under: FAQ, first time ironman, ironman, Ironman Austria, ironman nutrition, ironman regensburg, ironman tips, new ironman tips, outlaw ironman, race review, regensburg, triathlon |

Ironman is tough.  It took me to the brink.  It pushed me further than I ever thought was possible.  It changed my life.  It made me believe anything is possible.

Ironman is like few other events.  It gets under your skin.  It occupies your thoughts.  It makes you do (even more) irrational things.

You only cross an Ironman finishing line for the first time once.  And between that unique moment and the second finish line there are literally hours and hours to contemplate what you would/could/should do differently.  In three weeks I won’t be a first time Ironman any more so I wanted to capture the thoughts that have rattled around my head during hours in the pool and on the road.  This isn’t a useful read for a 10 hour ironman but is just the stuff that I know now that I wish I had known before my first Ironman.

So, where to start?

 

ANYONE CAN DO IT

Ironman doesn’t require any kind of special magic gene.  Loads of people have done Ironman as their first triathlon and have done it within a year of deciding to do it.

However, you can’t blag it.  You can definitely blag a 5k, a 10k, a half ironman and I have even, quite uncomfortably, blagged a marathon.  However, if you try to do the Ironman without training for it you will either end up on the sweeper truck or in the medical tent with your tongue hanging out your head and a probe in your ass.  Ironman is tough; but very do-able.  Support and knowledge is easy to come by; you just need to provide the motivation and the time.

The most important thing it to have a plan.  Plans are easy enough to  come by, Don Fink’s Iron Fit is imperfect but a starting point – devour it, diary it and live it.  If you have a good base it takes 30 weeks to get ready, the plan isn’t rigid, but you need to be consistent.

 

CONSISTENCY AND QUALITY

The key thing about training for Ironman is consistency.  Boom and bust training shipwrecks many a fledgling Ironman campaign.  The basics are pretty simple – long stuff is easy and essential; shorter stuff is harder; make sure you can tell the difference between hard and easy; have easy and hard days; then RECOVER.

Also, you are not training for a standalone marathon or a Tour de France stage so make your long stuff of a length you can RECOVER from AND maintain CONSISTENCY.  There really isn’t any need to run 20 miles and your consistency will suffer if you do.

You need to train most weeks, most days, you need to eat pretty well and you also need to be able to schedule some time off.  But, most importantly, it is SUPPOSED TO BE FUN, so when real life inevitably gets in the way don’t melt down, don’t panic, just trust the plan and roll on.  The plan works.

 

THE SWIM IS IMPORTANT

In Andreas Raelert’s world record Ironman time of 7:41 the swim took 10% of total race time. In Ironman cut-off times the swim is only 14% of time.  So, the swim is relatively unimportant, right?

Not really – the swim is the entry question for Ironman.  Even if you are an expert bike/runner two hours in the water is going to screw up your nutrition, your legs and your mind before you start the day.  And, more importantly, if you miss cut-off the day is over before you get on your bike.  So you ignore the swim at your peril.

As a lifelong competitive swimmer I have two thoughts on swimming that are not always popular.  Firstly, I agree with controversial Ironman (and swim) coach Brett Sutton, for most prospective Ironmen you need to swim miles.  3800 metres is a hell of a long way and a lot of people train less than 2,000m sets with drills in them.  You wouldn’t skip your long run or ride so don’t mess with the swim – do the distance and do it regularly.  And secondly, while open water is brilliant fun, it is often a wasted training opportunity unless you are incredibly disciplined.  It is essential to acclimatise and get used to the wetsuit but for most beginners pool time is much more valuable and a better use of time.

And while the swim is important it is ALL about the bike.

 

20110806-223111.jpgIT’S ALL ABOUT THE ENGINE

I kinda like the roots of Ironman.  In 1978 when 15 guys did the first Ironman they cycled in tennis shoes and denim shorts and drank beer when they ran out of water.  Now triathlon magazines are the modern day snake oil salesmen and ooze with £1000 magic products that promise to turn middle age, overweight weekend warriors into iron legends.  They don’t

Magic products have only ever ended in disappointment for me – either they are completely shite and get filed in the Magic Product Cupboard or they are OK but don’t really deliver the promised “marginal gains” and I am frustrated at my gullibility.  Yet again.  In fact, losing a few kilos and training smarter would have been significantly more effective!

You need a bike, a wetsuit, and trainers to do an Ironman.  You can accessorise with goggles and cycling shoes etc but the basics are very simple.  In this Ironman campaign I have only bought new aerobars (because my “cool ones” were completely the wrong shape for my mangled and re-pinned wrists) and new tyres (because the old ones were threadbare).  I confess I have been tempted by 60mm carbon wheels and aero helmets that would make me look like a bellend but, to be brutally honest, they have no place on a chubby cyclist’s bike.  The quality of the training and the engine you build are what it is ALL about.

Looking back I have spent money on three things that I think have made a big genuine difference.  I think that will be my next blog post!

 

NUTRITION MEANS FOOD (NOT PRODUCT)

I’m not sure I fully understand why people doing exercise eat as much as they do.  I have a feeling that glossy marketing has temporarily trumped good science.  I got lured into this in Ironman 1; although normally very analytical, marketing got to me and unravelled my common sense – I ate more than I needed and I ate packaged sports nutrition products that I didn’t really need.

The great thing about some sports nutrition is that it is portable.  The bad thing is that it is basically sugar packaged in different glossy portable packages.  Sports nutrition is great for racing; but I would imagine scientifically (real science not marketing science) that it is pretty fecking awful to your body, your teeth and your hormones to eat it at any other time.

For Ironman 2 I have been running up to two hours only on water and riding for three hours on water and bananas or soreen malt loaf.  I feel 100% better for it.  I will use gels and bars when I race because they are portable.  My pre-event preparation will be porridge with banana and my post event recovery drink will be Austrian beer.  After several years of testing the catering plan the basic principle of keep it simple just works for me.

 

photo1THE TATTOO

I remember reading about Ironman for the first time and was fascinated by the concept of getting a tattoo to mark an achievement.  Everyone has a view on getting branded – for what it’s worth I got one two days after I became an Ironman. I love it.

However, the concept appears to be a minefield so here is my tuppence worth…..

Is it OK to get an M Dot if you didn’t do an Ironman branded race?  Hell yeah, if you travelled 140.6miles in under 17 hours you ink whatever you want on your body.

Is it OK to get an M Dot if you did a 70.3, middle distance or half Ironman?  Hell no.  See previous answer.

 

That’s it.  I’m still learning every single day.  Maybe after I complete my second Ironman I’ll have new insight.

 

Less than three weeks to go.  Bugger.

Advertisements

Make a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

7 Responses to “What I Know Now That I Wish I Knew Then – Tips For First Ironman”

RSS Feed for ironman39 Comments RSS Feed

A most excellent post! I’ll remember this if I decide to tackle IM again! 😁

Like

Great read. I need a buddy to see this.

Like

Reblogged this on Endurance….

Like

[…] Originally posted on ironman39 […]

Like

Timely read for this first time ironman July 20th IMUK for me.
Need to keep it simple & carry on to the start

Like

Thanks for the insight… Nice to read before Austria as my first!

Like


https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.js[…] buddy @ironpugsley penned this blog just before tackling his second Ironman. It is the very best advice that I could have in my arsenal […]

Like


Where's The Comment Form?

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...

Wild Woman

Adventures of one lady and her dog

unironedman

Doing your first Iron Man a few wrinkles short of fifty...

Teacups & Trainers

Running through life, drinking as much tea as possible

ultimatemindsettoday

A great WordPress.com site

LoneSwimmer

The World's Best Guide To Cold & Open Water Swimming

Running On Espresso

Creating Better Runners

%d bloggers like this: