Road to IRONMAN Texas: 'Tis the Season



While high in carbohydrates, a steady diet of caramel corn, fudge and sugar cookies isn't exactly conducive to high-intensity IRONMAN training. But, like the rest of the country, food is always the highlight of my holiday season. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas I fly back to my parent's house in Los Angeles and eat way too much, sleep way too much and exercise way too little. Just what the doctor ordered.

More: Road to IRONMAN Texas: Starting a Routine

This holiday season though, I'll be flying home as an IRONMAN-in-training, trying to resist the urge to binge eat while stagnantly watching NBA games and playing cards with family all day. I successfully navigated my trip home for Thanksgiving this year, so I'm back in the win column. But with all the relatives heading out for Christmas and New Year's Eve, it's going to be a little trickier this time around.

So what have I learned so far?

Give each other a heads-up.

It's bad enough putting your family on the backburner during the summer months, but ditching the annual family holiday brunch for a 60-mile ride probably isn't the best way to keep your mom in a good mood.

More: Road To IRONMAN Texas: Signing Up

That aforementioned brunch is inevitable, so planning ahead can keep both parties happy. If they know you'll be giving them some of your time, they'll be less upset when you make up these sessions later. You have to give a little to get a little.

Eat in moderation.

It's really tough to say no to your grandma's homemade baked goods--especially when she made them specifically for you ('cause they're your favorite). While your 12-year-old self would eat two pounds of her apple pie, this approach probably isn't ideal for an IRONMAN-in-training. But make sure to have a piece, because if not, you'll be labeled as rude. What do you mean "baked with love" isn't a recovery agent?

Shop online.

Save all the trips to the mall by doing a one-stop shop online. If you're away like I am, just ship the presents to your destination--saving a ton of money on additional shipping or checked baggage costs. Use the time you'd be spending at the mall on a treadmill run or trainer spin.

Travel efficiently.

This Thanksgiving I flew home with a Raleigh Grand Prix (Ritchey Break-Away system) and a spare helmet, shoes and kit. Even though I wasn't on my $6,000 road bike, I was still able to get some quality miles in. If you have a set-up that needs a little love, bring it along on your holiday season travels. If anything happens to it on the plane, or if Uncle Jimmy tries to pop a post-spiked-apple-cider wheelie (just sayin'), it's not a big deal. Plus, those miles in the saddle will give you a much-needed mental health break from the relatives.

More: Road to IRONMAN Texas: Early Season Racing

Don't talk about triathlon.

Your family loves you and supports you in everything you do, but they probably don't really understand what an IRONMAN entails. To them, it's "How's your bike race coming?" or "When's your next marathon?" Better yet, "Oh you're doing an IRONMAN? Your cousin is doing a mud run!" Sorry insert family member here, it's not the same.

You've already told them countless times exactly what an IRONMAN is, so now just focus on the "less-is-more" mantra. Anything past a short "It's going well" response is unnecessary. They don't care to hear the details about your last brick workout--just thank them for asking.

Keep up with my current progress on Twitter (@nystrummin and @active) and on Instagram (@nystrummin and @activedotcom).

Interested in starting your own IRONMAN journey? Check out IRONMAN.com for a race near you.

About the Author

Michael Nystrom

Michael Nystrom is the triathlon editor for Active.com. A California native, Michael graduated from the University of Southern California with a master's degree in journalism. He has done several sprint- and olympic-distance triathlons, raced Ironman 70.3 California and raced Ironman 140.6 Arizona. Follow Michael on Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn.

Michael Nystrom is the triathlon editor for Active.com. A California native, Michael graduated from the University of Southern California with a master's degree in journalism. He has done several sprint- and olympic-distance triathlons, raced Ironman 70.3 California and raced Ironman 140.6 Arizona. Follow Michael on Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn.

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