Planning for Your First IRONMAN November 22, 2021 16:38 Updated Follow Not signed in? Log into your Purple Patch account for full access to your education program for coaches and athletes. You need to sign in to view this page. Why do you want to do an IRONMAN? Your answer needs to enough to get you through the highs and lows of training and the stress and pain to come on race day. If you are not sure of your why you might need to reconsider and commit to some introspection. Taking on an IRONMAN is no small feat and will test your limits. In order to successfully train for an IRONMAN you must be ready to examine these crucial components. Timing: Is this a good time in your life and triathlon career to do an IRONMAN? Examine family and work dynamics and other life commitments with an honest lens. Plan with your family by bringing them into the puzzle and be honest with them about time commitments, especially when it comes to some bigger weekends on the calendar (note: Purple Patch athletes should not expect big weekends every week!). Location: Where should it be? Everyone has their preferences but, take into consideration how close the race is to home, or will it be a destination race? What else are you looking for from the location? If you have a history of less than satisfactory race results when traveling far, you might want to take that into consideration. What is the course like? Do you prefer hilly or flat courses? Multi-loops or single loops? What is the typical weather and does it play to your strengths? Is the race’s history full of issues such as frequent canceled swims, drafting issues on the bike course, etc? Check out what others are saying before you make your choice. We have a saying ‘horses for courses’: What suits you and your characteristics? If you are terrible in the heat and live in hilly San Francisco — is Cozumel a good option to begin? Preparation: What will get you to the start line fresh and fit and then to the finish line? If you are thinking about getting a coach, joining Tri Squad, or going with another plan, do not wait until the last 12-16 weeks before your race. You should have at least a rough idea of your plan before this. Do not be mistaken, preparation for an IRONMAN is a long process and not a 3-4 month ramp. Decide on and commit to a certain amount of time and/r number of workouts in each discipline per week, and a strength program, that will be sufficient to prepare you adequately for the task. Don't stress the small stuff. The odd missed workout is not a big deal but remember that consistency is key and even without the weekly big volume approach Purple Patch does not advocate, some bike volume especially is necessary and is achieved through consistency. Start figuring out your race strategies months in advance to enable you to test and dial it in. This includes your fueling strategy and the equipment you will use. As simple as it sounds, book accommodations, rental cars, and any other logistics well in advance. Many hotels close to race sites will sell out. And, if traveling, how will you get your bike there? Do not leave these critical components to chance. Nail the Basics: This is a big, daunting project, but do not get distracted by the finer details. Each week doesn’t need to be perfect, but consistency trumps precision. Do not neglect consistent training. Be sure to add in strength training. This is a component that will help your body prepare for and support the load of training and racing. Sleep and recovery are absolutely critical. Listen to your body and build-in recovery and a plan for adequate sleep every night to support your training. Do not skip healthy eating in favor of “race weight” or under eat due to time restrictions such as rushing out the door. As we say, your session is not complete until you refuel. Read our Nutrition and Hydration Cheat Sheet, and be sure to explore the Education Hub further for more nutrition information. Race Lead Up: What is your plan? Do not show up at the race without knowing your plan and backup plan. Do not leave anything to chance. Take care of as many details as possible in advance to minimize extra stress leading into race day Get your bike serviced or checked-over by a bike mechanic 2 weeks in advance. Check the rest of your equipment and ensure it is in good order. Should you go to the banquet? For most first-timers, we believe the answer is a resounding YES! Special needs bags? Know the details for bag drop off and have a plan for how you will use what you put inside. Beware the taper crazies in the last week or so and also the possibility of phantom aches and pains, which are very common. Stay calm and do not try to pack in extra panic training. Plan to arrive at the race venue with plenty of time so you're not rushing to check-in at the final hour. Note that check-in cut off is always TWO DAYS before the race for a full IRONMAN. So, plan accordingly! Race Day: Ready, Set, Execute. Have realistic expectations for race day. Your race plan should focus on the process and enjoying the day. You only get to do your first IRONMAN once. Keep your family, friends and supporters involved and make sure you share key details with them on how to track you, where the transitions are, where the finish line is, and emergency plans in case they need to be reached or to reach you. Arrive early! Plan for long bathroom lines, unexpected traffic, and enough time to warm up as you need. Be prepared to deal with the unexpected throughout the day. Mindset is key. Things will go wrong -- it is not if, it is when. During the race, there will be highs and lows both physical and mental. Be ready for both. They will all pass. When you start questioning your life choices (and this will happen) get in calories, quickly! The wandering mind is a sign you need calories. Then, refocus on your "why.” This is a very long race, so split the course up into segments and focus on small portions at a time. It is much too daunting to consider the distances all in one go. Finally, soak up the experience and ENJOY IT! Do not do yourself the disservice of simply chasing time goals. Focus on the process. One last thing, SMILE. When you cross that finish line, do not touch your watch. Look up, smile, and revel in your moment. In conclusion, avoid the obsession around accumulating miles and hours, but seek to nail the basics consistently, and then you will have the best chance of being supremely fit and healthy. We see so many arrive fit yet fatigued at the start line and their weekly obsession with hours often leads to less than stellar results. Remember, fitness is seldom the limiter when consistency, not perfect training, has been there for most. Rinse and repeat sustainable training and know that success is not hinged on one breakthrough session or 100+ mile bike. Know and understand adversity will come, that much is certain. During your training and racing, do not let the hard times break you. Problem solve and stay positive. Completing your first IRONMAN is so much more than one finish line, it is consistent perseverance and a lot of heart.