IRONMAN for beginners.

Originally posted on the (now dead?) CrossFit Endurance Forums.

IRONMAN for beginners

The CFE Community
Postby Pär Larsson » Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:05 pm
Did the CFE cert at 714 this weekend (thanks errybody!) and one lady was 6 days out from her first half-Ironman triathlon. She'd never biked more than 36, never raced past a sprint tri/10k's/half-mara, didn't know what an aerobar was or what bike she'd be using. Will she finish it? HELL YES - she's got a killer good base from CF and running. I improvised a 20-min Q&A session on what to do/not in the next week but forgot some stuff.

My background:
2 full IM's, 4 half's (last two on consecutive weekends ...by accident), 2-3 years of CF, too much LSD, umpteen 10k's, some marathons, 5k's like candy. 2003, 2004 All-Navy Triathlon Team. 11:13 best full finish time. Clydesdale. 36 y.o.

If you've spent $100 on a race, spend another $50 to figure out what kind of race food you'll be able to chow down.
$50-100 aerobars can save you 8-20min of effort/time/energyloss in an IM race, but you need to get used to gear and food before you race.
http://www.tri-talk.com/Top20.asp WFS
http://www.socalttseries.com/Training/A ... fault.aspx WFS
A $80-100 Aero Helmet can save you 3-4min on the bike.
A $75 professional bike fit will save you tons of time and energy and save your back & legs. Unfortunately a good bike costs lots of money but Craigslist/Ebay sometimes works for cheap components (don't buy out-of-true carbon HED3 race wheels like I did). Few people can afford a wind tunnel test.
$600 CFE cert might sound expensive, but could save you hours and hours of training time and tons of injuries.

Your local bike shop might be willing to sponsor you, but you won't know unless you ask. The race will have a bike shop sponsor, talk to them for details about the race, or check the site for info on food and likely hot/windy/cold conditions. Your local bike/tri club will have people doing the same race, talk to them to exchange ideas and get some info.

Food planning:
Check your CFE cert materials for specific recommendations on food/drink source+calories+fat/protein/carb ratios, but realize that when you're tired, wired and not thinking clearly you're not likely to behave like you do when you're fresh. That extends to eating/drinking. Even Lance Armstrong forgot to eat on a stage, and you're not a professional. If you like the flavour of one certain brand and are used to that consistency you're more likely to grab that drink/gel/food. If it tastes like crap it might just come right back up in a race. If you're forcing yourself to eat there's something wrong. Too much effort or not enough training your belly to eat on the bike/run prior to the race, or not the right tasty flavour/product. I am liable to puke at the sight and/or smell or feel of a PowerBar, but I can handle 1 gel/hr in a big race, not more than a few hours in a row. For some reason I like 2-3 flavours of Endurox but not much other drink mix stuff - but it's the wrong protein/carb/fat ratio so I have to dilute it and eat some other stuff, too. Might wanna figure that stuff out ahead of time.

Figure out what you're eating and doing the day/week before the race. Full IM tapers are usually 1-3 weeks, but if you're like most athletes you'll go bonkers doing nothing or little, so get some easy sprints/visualization/transition training in. I'd much rather be over-RESTED than over-TRAINED going into an important race. Figure out what you need to accomplish your goals in the race, whether just to finish or to beat your best mate or go sub-10hrs. Sleep is a good thing. Breakfast is a good thing, figure out when and what you're eating, and how busy/crazy your race-day morning will be. You should be used to all your gear, incl. swimming in a wetsuit and any potential big waves. Bike/run workouts - "Bricks" - will get you used to running after a long time in the saddle. If you're sore starting a big race then you screwed up.

Luckily long races aren't very intense, so just warm up for the swim and maybe ride/run a tiny bit. Know where your stuff is. Visualize and roleplay every stage of the race. Take a 10min nap. Listen to your favourite pre-race song over and over and over again, then it'll play in your head for the next 10hrs (Pantera - F***ing Hostile). Or they'll play some Britney Spears over the loudspeakers right before the gun goes and then you're screwed in the head for the next few hours - true story.

Drafting saves you 20% time or energy - you're either using less energy to go same speed, or same energy and going faster.
http://www.trainright.com/articles.asp?uid=2013 WFS
Figure out what effort level will get you what you want. 80% effort may get you an acceptable time, but 95% may only gain you 5-10min and lose you tons of energy, upping your DNF risk or risk of pace fall-off on the bike/run. Bodyglide can save you some neck chafing. No IM race was ever won/lost in the swim. Sorry, swimmers. It's just a warm-up, really.

Have it all planned out. Clothes, where you're going (check the day before to see where you're running/picking up bike), what you're drinking. Have alternatives for unforeseen circumstances, like the weather is colder than you thought it'd be. If you don't care much about your finish time, get your favourite, most comfortable bike clothes and go be happy.

Know what you're eating and drinking and when and your bike position and how you can change it a bit. Don't take in too much food or you'll barf on the run. Electrolytes in the form of gels or salt stix or something or you'll bonk. Do you like sunburn? I don't. Chamois butter or bodyglide can save you some raw skin between your legs. You have already practiced eating and drinking on the bike, right? RIGHT? You know what the drafting rules are, right? Caffeine is the only legal performance-enhancing drug that I know of, but it doesn't take much. Talk to yourself. Visualize. Self-coach.

Have it all planned out. Here's a good spot for that guilty pleasure snack or drink. Red Bull is evil and full of death and non-Paleo clown carcinogens, but in a full IM T2 I don't care.

A lot rougher on your stomach than the bike. Eat/drink/gel too much and go HUUUUUUUURL. Not enough and pass out. Get your clothing wrong and it'll be really nasty cold which will affect your belly again. Sunburn, again. Go out too hard and pay the price later. Luckily not many people care if a triathlete can walk the next day, so it's ok if you barely have enough energy to sustain yourself past the finish. Chicken broth can save you as the night falls and it gets cold. Many a triathlete has been saved by diluted Gatorade or flat coca-cola. Do you like chafing on the inside of your thighs or bleeding nipples? I don't either. Bodyglide and/or shaving and make sure you know how fabric X will interact with your skin when you're sweaty, cold/hot and moving. Or you can wear a heavyweight cotton t-shirt for your first marathon like I did - OUCH. Talk to yourself. Visualize. Self-coach. Mega-jump over the finish line and you'll have a kickbutt picture for the rest of your life like I do.

See standard CFE active recovery. Take a mini-vacation.

Balance risk and effort. Not enough effort and your time is unsatisfactory. Too much effort and you risk DNF/bellytrouble. Continually adjust in the latter stages of the bike and run. Have a gameplan but realize that you might have misunderoverestimated something. Moderation in all things, including moderation. If you're feeling good with 5mi to go - you're the fat kid and the finish is the candy store.

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