Even if you’ve completed multiple triathlons, participating in your first Ironman is on a whole new level. Your body and mind will be pushed to unfamiliar limits, so ensuring you’re as prepared as you can possibly be is crucial to complete this enormous challenge.
We’re here to help. Here are 5 top tips you can follow to ensure you’re prepared to take your first steps towards the finish line.
#1 Clear Mentality
Start by setting goals. What do you want from your first Ironman? Why are you participating? Set realistic goals to align with your motivations. For example, rather than setting a specific time, how about just commit to finish? Or to just keep moving forward from the day your training begins.
Write your goals and motivations down and hang them up somewhere that you will regularly see them. This will keep your focus when you begin your training, plus having a visualisation of your goals and motivations will come in super handy when you have doubtful or uninspired days.
#2 Have a support system
Training for any extreme sport is going to take over your life. You’re dedicating a lot of your time and energy to accomplish something amazing, but it’s important to ensure the people in your life are prepared for it too. Not only are you going to need a support system, but they are also going to have to accept certain lifestyle changes.
Reach out to other people in your community and see if you can find a suitable training partner. Training will be hard, especially during the cooler and wetter months, so make sure you have someone to talk to about training, nutrition, recovery or even just the enormous task ahead!
Having a support system will make a big difference to your determination to complete an Ironman, so get the right people on board and get them excited for you!
#3 Get organised
From training, nutrition and recovery there’s a lot to think about, especially if you’ll be balancing your training programme around work and family. Although 2018 Ironmans are over 10 months away, the time will fly by so it’s time to get organised!
Set out suitable training plans which fit around your time and ability. Remember to include appropriate rest days, practice races, and nutrition plans to fit with your progress. Review the programme every 6 weeks so you’ll be completely aware of how far you’ve come and how far you have to go.
As soon as possible, make sure your event, travel and accommodation details are all booked for race day. Get these bookings out of the way early on to avoid any last-minute stress that could affect your final training schedule.
Just like visualising your goals, keep track of your training and development. Which parts you initially succeeded in, which parts are more challenging? Note down any milestones in your training where you have felt proud of your progress – you’re participating in a momentous challenge so remember to enjoy it. Hang your accomplishments and challenges next to your goals to watch your journey develop as race day approaches.
#4 Get the right kit
There are lots of triathlete kits available so finding the best one to suit you might be challenging. For example, consider which materials will make you faster, which fabrics react to your skin through the water and wind, and what fits and styles suit your swimming, running and cycling techniques. Check out a variety of triathlete swimwear available for inspiration.
Once you’ve decided on the kit that you will need, remember to train in it so you can thoroughly wear the kit in and suit the material to your movements.
#5 Restore and recover
An Ironman is a significant challenge so look after your body from the very beginning. Not just on the big day, but from when you start your training programme. Remember to include lots of recovery days to let your mind and body rest properly. It is also important to adapt your nutrition plan to suit what energy and minerals your body requires for different sections of your training.
Of course, plan your recovery strategy for after the race well in advance of the big day. Have your trainer, friends or family on hand to help you out. Your body would have been pushed more than it ever has before, so this is extremely important to avoid any injuries further down the line.
For more information on how to prepare for your first Ironman, check out these 5 vital nutrition tips for triathletes.