This is the final article in a series of five on "How to Train for Ironman". So far I have offered up some advice on the overall approach, swim specific training, cycling tips and run training for beginner Ironman athletes. In this article I will list some mistakes that I made along with how to ensure you don't make them and I'll go over a few details on how to maximize your training time and talk briefly about nutrition.
I'd first like to point out a few things that I did not get quite right and then I'll go over the details of how to get it right later on.
Before I cover the points above, however, I'd like to offer up some thoughts about how to train more effectively and maximize your return from the training you do.
Time Saver - If you look at a marathon training program they will advise something like four training sessions a week. One tempo, one long run, one intervals and one hill. Then imagine applying the same type of different sessions to cycling and swimming. That's 12 sessions a week, so two a day with one rest day. That's just not feasible for 99% of the population. You're going to have to cut back on some sessions, so first figure out what your weaknesses are and keep those sessions in. Perhaps you can combine different types of session into one to save time.
Planning- Be realistic in what you can do each week and try not to overstretch yourself in the planning of it. I did exactly that and thought I could do more hours than I actually could/wanted to. It meant that I felt guilty when I missed a session which was not good for my mental state. I had to go back and plan to do fewer hours per week so I didn't feel guilty about missing sessions.
Quality not quantity - There is little point in getting out to train 10 times a week if each session is not maximized. When I say maximized I mean that you achieve from the session what you planned to achieve. It's better to do seven sessions but do them properly and get what you want out of them instead of trying to do more but each one of those sessions being a little lackluster.
Race Craft - It's not possible to simulate race conditions in training very well so entering races before your main event gives you invaluable experience. Using different distance triathlon races also allows you to treat it like a hard training session. Using a half Ironman race to prepare you a few months out from your full Ironman race will help you feel prepared mentally and physically, plus practice your transitions, race fueling and equipment use.
One final piece of advice that I would like to give is the need for proper nutrition. You cannot expect your body to function at its best if it doesn't have the fuel it needs. I could write a whole article on nutrition, but the key things to remember are:
I cannot recommend enough a book by Joe Friel called "The Triathlete's Training Bible". It's really educational for any level of athlete and especially a beginner. You will learn about what types of training there are but also why you are doing them. I learned a lot from reading this book and it has practical examples of training plans to follow, too.
That's it for this final article in the series. Hopefully you have gained something from them and they have helped prevent a few mistakes which may have been made. If you have any questions I'd love to hear from you so drop me a message and I will do my best to answer you.
Author Bio: Robert Jackson this year became an Ironman! He believes a balanced, yet consistent, approach to training and diet will deliver results. Having started out with a fear of the water, he managed to complete the 3.8km Ironman swim in 1.5 hours just 11 months later, proving that "anything is possible...". Robert has recently created a website to guide those looking for protein powder. Click here to find out more.