On Ironman Preparedness

October 28, 1999 (www.slowtwitch.com)

Since the Big Kahuna has come and gone, I thought it appropriate to provide a bit of truth for those who are thinking about doing your own Ironman. its not like me to step on anyone's toes, but if I do it'll be hard to punch me as I'm way over here in New Zealand.  But now's a good time to set a few things straight and  counterbalance all the raging bullshit salesmen spout about what is good and what you need. 

Every time I go to Kona people always seem to have a new secret weapon--a new training technique, an energy drink, an aerobar--and it never ceases to amaze me. Are we all that insecure?  I don't think so. Some of you will not believe it is all so simple.  You might think that The Terminator has no concept of what its like for the average dude/dudette with 3 kids and a mortgage but you're wrong.  I went back and did it last year with all of that and a badly damaged liver and got through it o.k by sticking to my own advice that I'm giving you here. 

It may be a little late for some of you who are doing this Ironman but the rest of you still have some time to get it right.  And that's no easy task.  Even mark Allen missed the magic formula 6 times before he got it right and he's a pretty smart cookie. Much of what I've learned about these Ironmans since '81 comes from him, and Tinley and Dave Scott and Ken Souza (bit of an unrecognized guru).  I've always been a disciple of the masters.  We've all suffered a great deal to give you this unbelievably simple formula for success and its FREE.  Cuz I'm  a nice guy. So for those  folks who do feel a bit put out by my comments just remember that.

So here it is: All you need to know to do an Ironman up to your potential...

  • Work Less: 15-25 hours per week for 2-3 months.  Disclaimer: Easy for me to say, and out of the question for most of you. But it's the cold hard truth, this is the most important change you can make.
  • Train More: 24-30  hours a week for 2-3 months ought to get you 98% there. The other 2% ain't worth it. (See above disclaimer).
  • Get Enough Sleep: 7-9 hours per night and an hour nap 1-2 times per week.
  • Take  a good vitamin supplement every day. Twice a day is even better.
  • Do at least 12 long rides in the preceding two to three months of 100 miles or more.
  • Don't go overboard on anything.  Forget the exteme stuff, just be consistent.
  • Train in warm/hot weather the last two weeks before the event.
  • Get your weight down.
  • Avoid salt the week before the race and then get in as much as you can tolerate during the race.
  • Drink less booze (there will be time later, believe me).
  • Get set-up on your bike correctly so you can be in the aero position for 6 hours.
  • Train and race in good, comfortable shoes.
  • On race day stay relaxed, do the first 5 hours just a bit conservatively, keep your pride in check.
  • Stretch  at least 20 minutes per day.
  • If you really must spend  money on your bike, get good stuff. My first dollar would go for a set of HED wheels.  Don't fart around with unproven equipment.
  • Train with other people as much as you can--and make sure they're people who enjoy training.
  • Enjoy the challenge. Make it fun.

So there you have it. Don't complicate it or dilute it. If you need any more specific stuff or more of my time then it will cost you.

The Ironman bug may be with you for a long time or it may  be just like a little bit of a mid-life crisis, but its sure to leave a lasting impression and some scars on the inside or outside. How you approach it makes all the difference.  Its good to know where you're coming from, and your reasons for doing it.   If it's any help, you should know that whatever the reasons are, there are probably thousands of people out there doing it for the same reasons. Do those reasons fit in with your creed?  Part of the creed that I live is best sung, and it comes from  a Neil Young song when he sings "better to burn out than to fade away." Can't tell you how many millions of times I've sung those words on sessions lasting well into the night..