Practical Advice for your First Ironman, by Kelly Fillnow

Training for an IRONMAN can seem daunting. The time. The money. The endless sacrifice. But it does not have to be that way. You can reach your dream of becoming an IRONMAN without feeling like you gave everything up in the process.

Find your Tribe

It starts with having a support team behind you each step of the way. When you have people who believe in you and support you in your dreams, they will pick you up when you feel like giving up. They will keep you accountable when you feel like making excuses. Your tribe will tell you to silence the alarm, take that first step, and get the run done even though it is pouring rain. They will remind you of your vision to be an IRONMAN finisher. You will get out the door in the pouring rain reminded of why you started. The hard days will be there to remind you that you have a short-term memory.  They will tell you to forget about the bad workout and keep your long term focus. They will also be there for your triumphs.

Though they might not understand why you are so excited about a new FTP (Functional Threshold Power) or an epic lactate threshold run, they will be proud of your hard work and celebrate in your small daily victories. Find your tribe who will be there through the ups and downs. That tribe will look different for everyone, but finding your tribe is essential in the quest to being an IRONMAN. We all need people to lift us up, to keep everything in perspective, and who remind us of our why.
Mark Twain said to “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.
Find your positive tribe is the first step in the process to go after your dream.

Fine Tune your Schedule 

Additionally, finding a schedule that works for your life and family is key. Maybe it is doing your swim workouts during your lunch hour so you can be there for family dinner every night. Maybe it is taking every Sunday off so you can have family day. Or it’s allowing your spouse a morning hour to exercise a couple times a week. Maybe you do your run while your kid is at soccer practice around the soccer fields. You can watch him play, see him improve, while you get a run done on a soft surface. Maybe you plan your rest/unload week while on family vacation so you can spend more quality time with the family. Be willing to compromise while also figuring out a schedule that enables you the time to get the work done while staying balanced in the process.

Be a Planner

The British army adage states that “Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.” Proper planning is a key part of IRONMAN preparation and this happens months before race day. It is the little things that make all the difference. For instance, proper fueling after a workout is essential to optimize performance and recovery. Glycogen stores are depleted after a workout and the thirty minutes immediately following a workout is critical. However, what happens if after the brick workout you hang out with friends for 20 minutes, and then have to drive over 30 minutes home. Then once you get home, you have to prepare a meal. By the time your food is ready, you have long surpassed the proper window, and your next workout will suffer as a result.

But what if you had a cooler filled with extra cold water bottles and your Cocoa Elite ready to go? You can enjoy the social time after the workout knowing your body is optimizing its recovery opportunity. Then when you get home, you just have to heat up your food from the meal prepping you did over the weekend!

That is preparation! You are enhancing your ability to optimally perform through small steps that are preparing you to reach your goals.

Staying Organized 

Another important step in the process is staying organized. The night before a big brick workout, make sure your bike kit is ready to go, bike tires are pumped up with your helmet and sunglasses as well. Put your Cocoa Elite Endurance drink in your water bottles in the refrigerator, already made the night before.

You can even plan ahead and make overnight oats with the cocoa powder in it!  Here is an easy recipe: Overnight Oats. So your breakfast is ready when you wake up!
Staying organized will minimize your time because the chance of forgetting bike shoes or your bike computer, thereby lowering your overall stress! I also recommend having a bag in your car that has an extra pair of shoes, clothes, and protein powder.

When we properly plan, we are ready for whatever comes our way.

Be adaptable 

One of the most important qualities needed in an IRONMAN is the ability to be adaptable. Something will not go according to plan in an all-day endurance event. We can prepare for the inevitable on a daily basis in training. So when this happens race day, we have already conquered obstacles in our journey. It can be as simple as thunderstorm happening as soon as we jump in the water for our swim workout, and the lifeguard kicks everyone out of the pool. Instead of feeling frustrated, make the best of the moment, and head to the gym for a strength session instead.

Rather than beating yourself up with things not within your control, learn to go with the flow and accept things as they happen, by making the best of the moment at hand.

Charles Buxton said that “You will never find time for anything. You must make it.”

We can come up with excuses all day long that the time is not right. But there never is the right time to go after what we want. We can try and tell ourselves that in a few years down the road the perfect opportunity will arrive – but the best time is now.

We never know what the future holds, so why not go after everything you want right now?


Kelly Fillnow  is a certified USA Triathlon coach and owner of Fillnow Coaching.  She has been working with athletes of all abilities for the last ten years. Kelly has coached a National Age Group Champion, World Championship qualifiers, and helped athletes who could not run more than 2 minutes to crossing marathon finish lines. She is passionate about helping people achieve their dreams.

 

 

 

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