Considering an Ironman? What You Need to Know for Your First 140.6

If you wake up early everyday, you can get your training in and then spend time with family after work. You will get used to the early morning alarm

Add a recovery week every fourth week to your training program. Decrease your mileage, sleep in and do cross-training such as hiking, skiing or kayaking.

Make Them Count

Training doesn't stop when you've finished that final mile or lap. Paying attention to your body throughout the day will ensure that your workouts have the desired impact.

  • Make every workout a quality workout. If you are feeling fatigued, irritable or abnormally sore in your muscles, you might be overtraining. Listen to your body. Take the day off or go easy during your workout.
  • Get some shut eye. Go to bed early every night so that you can get eight to 10 hours of sleep for proper recovery. Have your lunch prepared and your workout bag packed and sitting by your door before you go to sleep so that you are ready to go in the morning.
  • Follow your heart. Take your heart rate when you wake up in the morning as you are lying in bed. Make sure your resting heart rate is normal (approx. 60 to 80 bpm). A high resting heart rate is a sign of overtraining.
  • Take one rest day per week for mental and physical healing. Go to an easy yoga class or take a walk at the beach with a friend or loved one.

More: How to Periodize Your Training

Don't Neglect Nutrition

Fueling your body can be the most difficult part of Ironman training and racing. Input of healthy calories will result in an output of high-quality training. An increase of training time per week can result in increased hunger.

I make sure that I only buy healthy, nutritious food filled with enough calories to maintain energy for training. Good examples are peanut butter-filled pretzels, trail mix, mozzarella string cheese and fruit. If you pack your lunch filled with nutritious calorie-filled snacks, you will not have the urge to fill yourself with unhealthy food.

H20 — Drink half of your body weight in ounces per day. Have a large jug of water on your desk at work. Make sure you drink the water throughout the day.

Timing — Don't eat a large lunch if you are expecting to train after work as you will feel sluggish.

Race-Day Food — Eat food with substance—such as sandwiches, pretzels and cookies—during training to prepare for race day. Eat approximately 200 calories per hour during your long training days to prepare for eating during the race with sufficient energy.

More: How to Create an Ironman Nutrition Plan

Pathway to Ironman

Many triathletes sign up for a full-distance race in a beautiful and interesting destination so that the race becomes a vacation.

During your training months prior to the race, get excited for race day by researching the destination. Design an itinerary for your trip that includes more than just the expo and the transition area. Include museum tours, a beautiful drive through a national park or research good restaurants to visit. Stay a few days after the race to recover and celebrate your hard work. Take a short hike or an easy walk after the race so that you can enjoy the surrounding environment without a high level of exertion.

When you return home, thank your family, friends and co-workers for supporting you during this amazing journey by hosting a dinner. Sit back, relax and enjoy the time with your support crew. It is well worth it in the end!

More: Should You Do an Ironman?

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Wendy Benwell has her doctorate in physical therapy and a Master of Science degree in kinesiology. She is a level I USA Triathlon coach as well as a level III USA Cycling coach. She has been competing in marathons and triathlons for the past 10 years, ranging from Olympic-distance to Ironman triathlons. She continues to maintain a full-time career as an orthopedic physical therapist while training for Ironman competitions each year.

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