Have you ever wanted to compete in an Ironman triathlon? They’re so popular that over two dozen Ironman races are held throughout the world every year just to find qualified participants for the Ironman World Championships. The race is unthinkably grueling, so don’t even think about getting started until you’ve read these 7 Ironman training tips.
Pick the Right Race for You
Even with the right Ironman training, the actual Ironman race is definitely not where you should start. The Ironman is the proverbial “granddaddy” of full triathlons consisting of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and 26.2 mile run. Instead, you should pick a triathlon that’s closer to your current ability levels. Shorter triathlons include:
- sprint triathlon (.5 mile swim, 12.4 mile bike ride, 3.1 mile run)
- Olympic / 5150 triathlon (.93 mile swim, 24.8 mile bike ride, 6.2 mile run)
- ITU long triathlon (1.86 mile swim, 49.6 mile bike ride, 12.4 mile run)
- half triathlon (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, 13.1 mile run)
Perfect Your Swim Technique
Though the swim is the shortest leg of the race, many consider it the most demanding. If you’re going to get serious about your Ironman training, you’ll want to work with an experienced swim coach who can analyze and help you perfect your technique. This will allow you to cover the most distance in the water with the least amount of movement and fatigue.
Get the Best (Fitting) Equipment
It goes without saying that the better equipment you have, the more effective your Ironman training and performance will be. A good pair of shoes will give your feet proper support and condition your lower body to the ballistic shock it’ll endure from all the running. Getting a good bike will not only lower your race time, but getting it fitted by a professional will maximize comfort and cycling efficiency. Both of these can also lead to reduced chance of injury.
Ensure Sufficient Aerobic Capacity Beforehand
Because triathlons are such demanding races, you’ll want to have pretty significant aerobic capabilities before diving into your Ironman training. While you’ll obviously build additional aerobic reserves via all the biking, running, and swimming you’ll do, you want to be able to focus as much on technique as you can. You can’t do that if you need the activity just to get in better shape.
Use the Gym for “Opposite” Training
Your overall routine will consist of quite a lot of biking, running, and swimming, but that won’t comprise all your working out. When you do hit the gym, don’t do it to mimic what you’re already doing via hitting the treadmill or exercise bike. Instead, target what isn’t worked during your Ironman training. Focus on improving strength, preventing muscular imbalances, and actively work on restoration/flexibility.
Give Yourself a Lot of Time to Prepare
The Ironman race isn’t something you start preparing for 6-8 weeks out. Even if you’re already in top-flight condition, you’ll want to begin your Ironman training at least six months prior to your qualifying race. Many experts even feel you should plan as much one or two years out. Start too late and you’ll just end up trying to do too much, too hard, too soon. Overtraining, burnout, and/or injury will be almost a certainty.
Make Recovery a Priority
With all the work you’ll be doing, you have to make recovery a top priority. If your body and nervous system aren’t properly recovering, you won’t be able to build up sufficient work capacity. And if you can’t do that, you’ll be in a constant state of overtraining. This will inevitably lead you to getting injured. Promote recovery with a proper diet and as much sleep as you can get. Things such as massages, cold showers, ART, and more could all prove useful.
Don’t Neglect the Mental Aspect
While the Ironman can be brutally exhausting from a physical standpoint, it’s even more so mentally. Many experts will tell you that people break mentally before they break physically, especially when performing something that’s as long as a triathlon. You’ll need as much mental toughness and preparation as you will physical. Learning to keep yourself on track mentally can have great benefits on being efficient physically as well as continuing to push yourself when you’re fatigued.
Make no mistake, Ironman training isn’t easy, but it is rewarding. Be smart, take your time, get access to the right equipment, and stay as injury-free as possible. Enter the race, do your best, and the feeling of accomplishment will likely be unrivaled to virtually anything else you’ve done. For information on other exciting worldwide fitness events, click here.