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Having always been a sprint distance triathlete representing Great Britain at age group on 2 occasions at the European championships and will again this year at the World Championships in Switzerland I wanted to set myself some new challenges for this season. Off the back of my first sub 4 hour marathon in October 2018 I made the decision to take on my first full Ironman distance. Here's how I changed my training for taking on an Ironman!
-Timing is everything
Training for this distance from scratch is a big commitment and alongside a full time job can be a challenge. I was already “marathon fit” with a good swim and bike fitness base. I discussed with my friend, an experienced triathlete, and we planned to be ready for June/July 2019, doing a lot of our training together.
-Get a training plan...and stick to it
I have been lucky enough to get a coach but there are plenty of free training plans available on the internet. Even if things are tough or not going as smoothly as you'd like, have faith in your plan.
Working full time in addition to over 10 hours of commuting a week the first thing my coach asked me was how many hours I could dedicate to training. If you’re not realistic you won’t be able to hit your goals and will soon become disengaged and annoyed. My hours have varied but on average I’ve trained 12-14 hours a week, the majority being on a weekend.
-Change of seasons
During the winter months I used this time to build on my running endurance doing one long run a week in addition to a track session to develop strength. Bike sessions included one track session a week to build strength and speed, a turbo in my TT bike to practice position and a 1-2 hour ride on a weekend if weather permitted. Active Root was perfect for these rides carried in a thermal cycling bottle I got for Christmas - I was the envy of all the riding buddies!! And of course...swimming was in the pool. Try to work with the seasonal conditions, rather than getting frustrated at them - e.g. in which ways can you make your Turbo session more fun?!
-Warm weather training
For the past few years I’ve gone abroad. This year was no exception. I headed to Lanzarote with a friend for 4 days meeting up with other friends when we were out there. I got approx 200 miles of riding in and some off road running. I used active root during my training sessions to fuel and hydrate and would also use post training help with recovery given the warm weather.
-Base to build
As the weather improved and I moved from 'base' to 'build' training. The rides got longer and the running got shorter. 2 chaingangs a week usually with a run off one then a longer ride on a weekend. This has ranged from 40 hilly miles to 100 miles at race pace. I’ve continued to go to track to keep the speed and strength with my running and added a threshold session instead of a long run. Swimming is similar with additional open water as needed.
It goes without saying that what you put in will directly affect your performance. I’ve been using Active Root for around a year now and have been fortunate to be able to represent the brand as an ambassador. I’ve tried lots of different sports drinks over the years and Active Root stands head and shoulders above the rest not only fuelling and hydrating but also keeping those stomach issues well and truly at bay making endurance sessions, in particular running, so much easier to tolerate. I use nutrition bars made solely from natural ingredients which not only provides me with the right amount of energy but is easy to digest.
And so I’m into the final 2 weeks prior to the race. I’m going to Norway to do the Ironman...I figured if I was going to do one I go somewhere nice and I’m of course having a little holiday there after!! I’m getting plenty of rest, regular sports massages, eating well and keeping hydrated. I’m continuing to train at my usual level and will ease off in the last 5-6 days prior to my race.
• Surround yourself with supportive friends and family (preferably ones that’ll join you for a run or ride!!). I couldn’t have got this far without the support of my nearest and dearest. I’ve had friends join me for half of a long run and bike with me and others who have come out on long rides keeping me motivated
• Get a coach or at least a plan
• Be realistic
• Enjoy it
• Eat, sleep, train, repeat...and drink active root!!!