Tips for your first Ironman

So 3 months ago I entered my second ironman, IM Austria. Last year was absolutely incredible, the journey to Ironman Switzerland was full of rich experiences, meeting and training with some amazing people. I keep wondering to myself why it took me so long to enter my first! 

I feel that my life and weekends have so much more depth and fulfilment to them, so I hope to inspire many others to follow suit and enter an event that also gives them the same rewards.

So whilst I create my training plan, and focussing on what I'll do better this time round, I have collated a few of my top tips to share with you:

  1. Flexibility - Life often gets in the way, and you may not be able stick to the training plan you set yourself. Allow for moving your training sessions around and don't put too much pressure on yourself if you need to miss sessions. Recovery is key!
  2. Key Weekly Sessions - Ironman, being a long distance endurance race, the key sessions of the week are the long run and long ride. You train for your body to adapt to be able to survive the distance of the ironman.
  3. Get Rid of Junk Miles - Each session will have a key focus whether it be a slow long run or long ride, a shorter interval run or a shorter 'hill' ride. I'm going for less hours each week, but more quality training sessions.
  4. 4 week cycles - My training plan this year consists of 4-week blocks. 3 weeks build, 1 week recovery. This is to aid recovery. This is the key part where your body adapts to the training. You overload/stress your body with training, then recovery allows your body to adapt.
  5. Brick Training - I didn't do much brick training last year so I'll follow my long rides by a run afterwards
  6. Fuel - This is also key to avoid bonking and to keep you fuelled through the long rides and run. There is varying advise out there so my recommendation would be to test out what works for you. I found eating 1g of carb per body weight worked for me. So I would eat 58g worth peanut butter and jam sandwiches per hour. 
  7. Choosing the right event for you - To chose your ironman look at what key factors matter to you. Lake swim or sea swim? How much climbing is there in the cycle? Pick what you are comfortable with. Hilly or flat run? How many laps of the run would you like? I picked Ironman Austria this year based on it's 2 laps of the run course. I wasn't too much of a fan of 4 laps at IM Switzerland.
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