Training for your first IRONMAN is no easy task—it requires the highest level of determination and dedication. One of the joys of being a professional triathlete is being able to pass on knowledge, coaching and experience that my team and I have accumulated over the years.
Whether through advancements in training, nutrition or equipment, we pride ourselves on trying new things in an effort to improve. We have always believed in continuous development through daily monitoring, self-awareness and open communication.
Here are some training and race day tips my coach, Mike Doane, and I have put together to help you prepare for your first IRONMAN.
Be consistent and repeatable.
IRONMAN training is not about big workouts or monster training weeks; it is about the fitness and strength you develop over the course of months and years. We talk a lot about cumulative training load and how a week or series of weeks builds strength to get race ready. Over time, daily training will yield the best results.
Every workout should challenge you in different ways, but should be repeatable. Even if you're worn out after a hard training session, you should be able to come back and do that same workout again the next day. While there are exceptions, we live by this is a general rule of thumb.
Find your sweet spot.
There are various theories concerning the best zone to train in, how much time to spend at varying intensities and the alleged 'dead zone' of training. We have found that spending the majority of my training time 10 to 15 beats below my race heart rate yields the greatest results with the least amount of stress on the body. The best way to measure and monitor these zones is by investing in a sports and fitness wearable specifically designed for intense athletic training. I personally use the Polar V800, because it is a GPS-enabled multi-sport watch that provides me with smart coaching and is optimized for triathletes.
Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.
I have spent a lot of time working on my nutrition over the past five to six years. Like most people new to the sport, I thought my training gave me carte blanche to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. As I started looking at my choices, I realized they were limiting me. It's not rocket science to eat well, but it's not always easy to execute. To keep it simple, eat as clean and high quality as possible, watch your caloric intake and taper eating throughout the day.
Nutrition comes down to self-awareness and experimentation. The phrase "eat like a kid" is one thing that has always stuck with me. Eat when you're hungry, drink when you are thirsty and stop when you're full. It may sound silly, but our bodies are pretty great at letting us know what we need and when. All you need to do is listen (easier said than done).