Ironman marathon nonstop

Running the Ironman marathon nonstop is difficult to do.

It’s particularly demoralizing for seasoned distance runners who have difficulty running the Ironman marathon nonstop.

Maybe they have several marathon finishes to their name and perhaps they have even broken the three hour mark, but once they get to the Ironman things seem to go wrong.

It’s a misconception that all you have to do is add 45 minutes or so to your best marathon time in order to calculate your Ironman marathon time.

There are three main reasons why many triathletes have trouble keeping up their running pace and eventually end up becoming part of the Ironman death march.

  • They have failed to incorporate enough transition bike/runs into their training program.
  • From the moment the gun went off they raced at a pace that was beyond their ability to maintain through the swim, bike, and run.
  • They didn’t manage their hydration and nutrition properly on the bike and that doomed them on the run even before they put on their running shoes.


It’s one thing when the gun goes off to begin a marathon, but it’s something else completely when you take those first few running strides after doing a 112-mile bike under who knows what conditions. There might have been cold, wind, or heat.

Even if the conditions are perfect your muscles take a pounding and there is no feeling worse than trying to run after the Ironman bike. Suddenly running the Ironman marathon nonstop becomes a lot more challenging.

One of the main keys to combat the transition from Hell is to do plenty of transition training through-out the year. It doesn’t have to be a 100 mile bike training session followed by a 15 mile run.

Ironman marathon nonstop

A wind-trainer is perfect for transition training. Go from bike to run within a minute or two.

It can be a 45 minute bike followed by a 5 mile run. You will still feel it in your legs without biking a great distance. You can always start out with shorter distances and slowly increase it as your training progresses. The key is to make sure transition training is a constant part of your training.

If you have a wind-trainer parked in your home you have the perfect transition training option right in front of you. A 40-60 minute bike workout followed by a quick change into your running shoes will give you a transition time of around one minute.

You don’t have to worry about what to do with your bike. You just get off the bike put on your running shoes and head out the door on the run. The closer together the bike and run the closer you will be to experiencing what it will be like on Ironman race day.


It’s amazing how many triathletes let their emotions get the best of them in the Ironman swim. They feel panic, fear, and excitement and if they don’t harness those emotions and stay calm in the swim their heart-rate escalates.

When that happens they are burning their glycogen stores way too soon and are burning off precious energy that’s unrecoverable. Your lost enery can’t be recovered because you are in a constant state of motion from the time the swim starts until you reach the finish line of the race.

Often triathletes will overextend themselves in order to cut 5 minutes off their swim time. They might do it, but most likely they will add an hour to their run time. It’s a poor trade off.

A frantic swim is usually followed by going as fast as you can once on your bike. After all, you have to keep up with everyone else who’s blowing by you. No you don’t……..You just have to be smarter. Maintain a pace within your ability in the swim and bike and you will pass pretty well all the speed demons late in the bike or on the marathon course if you race within yourself.


There are constant discussions about what to eat and drink on the Ironman bike course. What electrolyte replacement drink is best? What gel or protein bar is best?

Ultimately its not all about what you’re drinking and eating. Rather it’s about when you are eating and drinking. This is one of the major keys to running the Ironman marathon nonstop.

Timing is everything.

It’s in the small things. Drinking the moment you get out of the water is not always a great idea because you have been in the horizontal position for 2.4 miles. When you go vertical and stand up that initial dizziness you feel it most likely a change in blood flow. Your body needs time to adjust.

ironman marathon nonstop

Before the race set you timer to beep at regular intervals as a reminder.

Biking about 15 minutes and then beginning your eating and drinking plan is a better idea.

It’s easy to forget to drink and an hour or two could pass and you simply haven’t had enough to drink. If you’re thirsty it’s too late. Drinking a large amount all at once is not nearly as effective as drinking a smaller amount at pre-planned shorter intervals.

When you take your first drink after 15 minutes or so be sure to have your watch timer pre-set to beep at regular intervals. Start your timer at your first drink. Before the race, set it to beep every 20-25 minutes and you will be reminded to keep your hydration level at an even keep throughout the entire 112-mile bike.

You could set up your plan to drink every beep and drink and eat every second beep. Try it out in training and see what time interval works best for you.

Complex carbohydrates(for instance a whole wheat bagels with peanut butter and honey) should be eaten early on in the first third of the bike so they have time to be assimilated for the late stages of the bike and for the marathon.

Eating too late on the bike course will do you little good during the marathon as there is no time for your body to assimilate it. On the contrary you could end up with stomach issues.

If you become dehydrated during the bike or have depleted glycogen stores from not pacing yourself within your level of ability you will have a very hard time running the Ironman marathon nonstop.

RELATED: Ironman Triathlon Negative Split Strategy
RELATED: Ironman Death March

Kenyan runners

Reasons why Kenyan runners are among the top runners in the world.

Intense training and attention to nutrition would probably be right near the top of what makes Kenyan runners so amazing..

From the very first time I ever saw the Kenyans run in the Olympic Games I became a big fan.

The Kenyan runners are amazing and regardless of race distance they always seem to be near the top when the dust settles.

Road races, track meets, cross-country, or the Olympics–it simply does not matter–Kenyan runners are proficient at all types of running and at any distance the race happens to be.

It’s almost as if they have an endless supply of speed and their endurance is remarkable.

There are many differing opinions on why the Kenyans have such a gift for running. Some say that it’s because they grew up at a high altitude and as a result have highly-developed lung power.
Kenyans runners

Some say it’s because Kenyan runners have been genetically gifted with the ideal body structure for running.

There are even some who say it’s because they had to run ten miles to school every day. Most Kenyans have a good laugh at that one. They claim the only running they ever did for school was when the bell rang for class to start.

Despite all the guess-work Kenyans success at endurance running might be explained simply by their dedication to training and proclivity for hard work.


I once read this quote from an Olympic athlete.

when you take too many days off from training, someone–somewhere in the world will be training and on the big day when you meet up with him, you will lose to him.

Maybe that’s what the Kenyans think because their training regimen is nothing short of legendary.

However there is also a danger that by taking the message of that quote to heart. The average runner will train too much and ignore the necessity for proper rest and recovery time. This does not seem to be the case for Kenyan runners.

female Kenyan runners

It seems to make sense that in order to run at the level they do, Kenyan runners must be able to withstand an incredible amount of stress on their bodies.

It’s not unusual at all for Kenyan runners to have three training sessions per day if they are preparing for a special race. Even in the most serious marathon circles in North America that type of training is unheard of.

I believe that’s because they have endurance running backgrounds that were ingrained at a very young age. Their bodies have grown accustomed to the rigors and pounding of hours and hours of running per day.


It doesn’t matter what country one is from or how accomplished a runner one happens to be, a sound diet is an essential component to success.

The Kenyans seem to have that figured out and their spartan and simple diet does wonders for fueling them and propelling them to the top of the running world.

Something important to consider is that even from their youth, they ate adequate calories to fuel their love for running.

Proper nutrition to increase endurance and sustain stamina and aid recovery became ingrained into their eating habits at a very young age. They did not have fast food joints at every crossroads in the village to tempt them.

For many North Americans, a good running diet is something they might adopt when they decide to take up the sport later in life. It’s seldom eating habits they grew up with.


The Kenyans are not big fans of most Western food. If they are based out of the United States, most Kenyans might indulge themselves to some fast food once a month. As one Kenyan champion stated, “a little unhealthy food once in a while is not a bad thing.”

They avoid packaged and processed food like the plague. The same goes for sweet snack foods. The in-between-meals snack of choice is fresh fruit.

As a rule the Kenyans eat two meals (lunch and dinner) daily and if they are running three times a day will have a light breakfast as well. That light breakfast might be bread and butter or perhaps a couple of boiled eggs.

ugali for Kenyan runners

Ugali is a Kenyan staple and a favorite food of Kenyan runners.

If they are having just two main meals, breakfast is nothing more than tea with lots of milk and sugar before and after their first workout of the day. They may also have some fruit to settle their stomachs.

A typical lunch might consist of a few pieces of chicken and rice or potatoes topped with other vegetables. If they are running twice a day this meal(lunch)would be after the first run.

Note how carbohydrate-rich this lunch is. What this does is replenish their glycogen stores and prepare them for the second run later in the day.


It appears that most Kenyans include about 60% carbohydrates in their calorie intake per day and avoid added fats as much as possible.

This differs greatly from the 40-30-30(carbohydrate, fat, protein)Sears diet that is widely accepted by many endurance athletes in North America.

Dinner is eaten after the final run of the day and normally it’s a late dinner by North American standards. Possibly this is because they seldom have a big breakfast. At least that’s my best guess.

A large meal before an endurance training session or race can make a runner feel pretty uncomfortable. It gives your body little time to process the calories so that they will do any good.

The preferred dinner main course for a Kenyan runner is a traditional Kenyan dish called “ugali”. It’s actually a thick cornmeal porridge for lack of a better description.

As a rule they eat it almost every day and the rest of their dinner is sort of built around the ugali. Apparently it’s pretty tasteless, but at the same time is very carbohydrate rich.

Ugali might not sound so great to North Americans, but Kenyan runners love it and it’s hard to argue with their success.

Want to know more? Here’s an UGALI RECIPE for you.


Triathlete stretching

Does triathlete stretching have a place in your first Ironman or triathlon preparation?

Stretching Is one of those gray areas that nobody seems to really understand. Sometimes I watch people go through the motions just before a race and you can just tell they are unsure exactly what it is they are supposed to be doing.

Is stretching really a good idea? A triathlete stretching improperly will most likely do more harm than good.

I tried it for a year or so and came to the conclusion that for me it was a waste of time. Actually more to the point, it did more harm than good. I injured myself twice in the process and ended up missing training time.

I think part of the problem is that people(like I did myself)just go ahead and start stretching without a full understanding of what they should be trying to accomplish. Ultimately this can result in injury from attempting too much too soon.

I truly believe there are better and safer ways to prepare your muscles, tendons, joints, and ligaments before they are stressed by training or racing.


I watch young kids in swim clubs who stretch every day for fifteen or twenty minutes before a training session and that makes sense to me. Their bodies are used to it and it is part of their everyday routine. Also, they’re being supervised by a coach.

When it comes to triathlete stretching it makes more sense to me to swim, bike or run slowly at the beginning of a training session for at least 5-10 minutes. This lets your body ease naturally into the function they will be doing in a few minutes at a faster pace.

If you stretch now and have a regular program and it works for you, then you should stick with it. Otherwise I wouldn’t even start unless you receive knowledgeable guidance and are willing to stay with it on a daily basis.


A common mistake made by many people is to just do what they see other people doing in the gym or perhaps in the moments leading up to the start of a race.

That’s not a good idea for several reasons. First of all, you have no idea what they’re stretching for as far as what they are hoping to gain or what sport they’re involved in.

Triathlete stretching

Should triathlete stretching be part of your program?

Secondly, there is no guarantee they are even doing the stretch properly themselves, and thirdly you have no idea how long stretching has been part of their routine.

For instance, they may have been stretching for several years and you may not be quite ready to stretch quite the way they are. Just possibly the triathlon stretching you should be doing is different from their program.


The best way to prepare your body for a particular training session is to ease into it. For instance, if you’re planning a two hour training run, walk at a good pace for five or ten minutes and then ease into your running rhythm. This way, you’re warming up the muscles you’ll be using beforehand without having to stretch.

If it’s a swimming workout do a few easy laps before beginning the workout you have planned. If you’re biking, sit up in the seat and spin in an easy gear until your muscles warm up. While you’re at you can also do some shoulder shrugs to loosen up shoulder and back muscles. This is especially helpful if you expect to be in the aero position for an extended time.

For more information on being a more successful triathlete or Ironman be sure to have a look at the books I have written that have helped many triathletes around the world realize their Ironman and triathlon dreams and goals.

You can visit my ironstruck book store and find the perfect book for the new or experienced triathlete doing their very first try a tri triathlon or the Ironman.


Triathlon running

Understanding the fundamentals of triathlon running is vitally important.

As simplistic as it may sound, many people take running for granted and don’t realize how the dynamics of the run change when you swim and bike first.

Successful triathlon running is not as easy as it at first seems but there are several ways to have more success in the run.

Most people who are new to triathlon are a bit surprised when they struggle with the triathlon running part of the race. This is especially true when they were accomplished runners before they became triathletes.

The biggest impact is usually felt by those who are taking on their first ironman and have several marathon finishes to their credit.

They mistakenly assume that deducting a bit of time from their best marathon result will indicate what their Ironman Marathon split will be.

Unfortunately it doesn’t usually work that way in an Ironman Triathlon. There are too many variables to account for. Reaching the finish line can often take an hour or more longer then expected.


(1)Failure to spread your energy reserves out evenly over the entire distance of your triathlon. This is especially important in a Half-Ironman or full Ironman.

It’s a long journey to get to an Ironman Triathlon start line and something one has imagined over and over again.

The atmosphere is electric no matter what Ironman race you are entered in. Often it results in many people going out way too hard when the gun sounds. Getting caught up in pre-swim anxiety can eventually impact your marathon.

The energy wasted in a poorly executed swim is unrecoverable for the rest of the day and once it’s gone, it’s gone for good. There is a direct link between a poorly planned swim and the Ironman Death March.

Usually that same poorly executed swim plan is followed by a mad dash through transition and a blistering fast bike pace that you hold for as long as you can. There is only one result from this scenario.

There will be a massive wall waiting at some point on the bike course. If you don’t hit the wall on the bike course it will most likely happen early in the run. You will suddenly loose your energy and just making it to the finish will be a challenge.

(2)Reaching the start line over-trained and under rested is a common mistake.

It’s hard to understand at first that you can actually take a much-deserved rest. You won’t lose everything you’ve gained over months, or perhaps years of training. It’s simply not the case.

Without fail there will be dozens and dozens of triathletes out training in the hot sun during any given ironman race week. They have so much pent-up energy they simply don’t know that to do with themselves.

Every single hour they are out their stressing their bodies needlessly is taking away from their best possible effort on race day.

Triathlon running

(3)Poor hydration and nutrition in the days leading up to the race and also during the bike leg can have a big impact on your run.

It you get this part wrong it’s really too late to make up for it out on the run course. If you’re playing catch-up with your food and fluid intake it’s hard to recover because you are continually burning energy and dehydrating yourself.

To really recover fluid and nutrition energy levels properly you would have to rest up for several hours. You can’t really do that because triathlon is a non-stop event and there are cut-off times to consider.

Once you get behind it’s too late and you are in for a very challenging time out on the run course.


(1) One of the most important things you can do to have better triathlon running results is to know your limitations and pace yourself.

This train of thought should begin even before the gun sounds to start the swim. Have a sound swim plan in mind long before race day. It’s pointless to take off like a shot when the guns sounds unless you are a pro and are trying to keep up with the other pros.

There’s not a thing to be gained by doing the swim 8-10 minutes faster if it means stressing yourself physically and in the process burning energy you will need later.

The end result of gaining that 10 minutes in the swim could well mean taking 90 minutes longer to make it through the run later in the day. That just does not compute.

Swim well within your ability with your main focus being to get to the swim finish using as little energy as possible and being as relaxed as possible.

This means keeping your emotions in check when there is chaos all around you. It also means taking your time through the swim/bike transition.

Give your body time to re-adjust from being in the water and take it easy when you head out on the bike course.

Going out as fast as you can will sky-rocket your heart-rate for no good reason.

Save all that energy for the last part of the bike. If you feel great then, that would be the time to pick it up a little while everyone else is hitting the wall.

(2)Consider a one-month taper for an Ironman Triathlon.

With 30 days to go before the big race it’s time to begin to ease off on the gas pedal. Let your body have it’s well-deserved rest from those months of preparation.

Each of those last 4 weeks cut your training back 20% or so from the previous week.

The week of the race don’t be tempted to do 15-mile runs in the heat of the day or to head out on a 75-mile bike ride.

This is perhaps the biggest mistake that is made by most new triathletes.

All that’s really required is a few short bikes, runs, and swims in the cool of the morning or evening for a few of those days. For the rest of race week stay in the shade and do nothing but relax and dream of the finish line.

If the race is Sunday, be sure to take Friday completely off and get a good nights sleep as you may not sleep that well the eve of the race.

Do just a short run on Saturday morning to get the cobwebs out and prepare for the big day.

A few short “pick-ups” of ten seconds or so is perfect. Early in the morning run easy for 10 minute or so to warm up, do a 10-second burst at a fairly quick pace and rest for 50 seconds and repeat. Do about 5 of these and run easily back to your room. That’s it! About 15 minutes. Now just take it easy for the rest of the day and wait for Sunday’s race start.

pasta load for well-fueled Triathlon running

(3)Do your carbohydrate loading and hydrating several days before the race.

Wednesday is a good time to begin to take on lots of extra fluids for a Sunday race.

It’s also a good time to eat meals that you are accustomed to that are high in carbohydrates. It’s no time to experiment with new food or energy drinks.

If your urine is clear and copious by Saturday then you are pretty much there as far as hydration. Your last meal on race eve is best eaten fairly early in the day(I never ate past 4 p.m. the night before a race).

This will allow sufficient time for your digestive system to work so you have no stomach issues on race morning.

A light breakfast of tea and toast and perhaps a banana about 3 hours before the gun goes off and you should be well-prepared for the race.

The key to hydration and nutrition during the bike leg is to begin early on and eat and drink controlled amounts often as opposed to a huge amount once in a while.

The best time to start drinking and eating is after about 15 minutes on the bike.

Taking on food and drink too soon may irritate your stomach. It’s best to give your body time to make the switch from being horizontal in the water to vertical on the bike.

From that point on I would suggest drinking at regular 20-25 minute intervals for the duration of the bike leg. It really works well if you set the timer on your watch to beep at regular 25-minute intervals as a reminder.

Most of your eating should be done early on in the bike. Eating in the late stages of the bike is not necessary or recommended.

Food eaten late in the bike will most likely not be assimilated in time to do any good in the run and may do more harm than good.

If you do things properly on the bike course you stand a good chance of making it through the run just drinking water at each aid station and avoiding food almost completely.


The National Post has excellent articles on running.

Choose Ironman Triathlon running shoes carefully

Proper Ironman Triathlon running shoes are a priority on race day.

The distance of a marathon is 26.2 miles.There’s no getting around that no matter where you happen to be racing. That’s just over 1,600,000 inches. Everybody’s stride is different but a reasonable average distance per stride is around three feet. That equates to around 56,000 strides.

When it comes to Ironman Triathlon running shoes you have to consider how many foot strikes you can expect. Whether you are running, shuffling, or walking on the Ironman highway every stride takes its toll. Basing your decision on neon colors or brand name is not always the way to go.

Ultimately you want a pair of running shoes for Ironman race day that fit like your favorite pair of slippers. You also want them to be as light as possible without being so light that the cost in energy goes up.


The shoe has to absorb at least some of the impact. There are many racing flats out there that fit the bill. They are lightweight and yet offer impact protection. Some minimalist runners go the the extreme like the example in the image.

ironman triathlon running shoe

A five finger shoe used by minimalist runners.

As a rule it would make sense to wear a heavier shoe in your everyday training. By heavier, that might mean 11-12 ounces as opposed to a 7-8 ounce running flat. Four or five ounces might not seem like a lot, but it sure is when you are part of the Ironman Triathlon death march.

The energy bar in your jersey pocket starts to weigh a ton, the water bottle on your side pounds against you every step, and your shoes feel like they weigh ten pounds each. Such is the life of an Ironman when it comes down to crunch time and all hope seems lost. Do yourself a favor and wear Ironman Triathlon running shoes that are as possible and still do the job of absorbing energy.

Training is a different story.

ironman triathlon running shoes

Proper fitting shoes can help prevent runners knee.

A sturdier shoe replaced every 500-700 miles due to wear will help prevent injuries like Planta Fasciitis and Runner’s Knee. Because of the sheer volume a lightweight training flat would not be a great training shoe choice.


When you find racing flats that appear to fit you perfectly use them in a few of your training runs so they have time to break in and conform to your feet.

Wear the same kind of socks that you intend to wear on race day. During the break in phase be on the lookout for for sore spots that may lead to blisters. Sometimes all it takes is a different sock to make the sore spot go away. Sometimes it takes a bit more running in your new flats to stretch them out just a little more.

Once you’re happy with the way the shoes fit save them for race day. After the race store your Ironman Triathlon running shoes away and they’ll be ready to go for the next marathon. By using them for races only you could probably do 15-20 marathons in your favorite pair of racing flats.

Go back to training with a heavier shoe with more support after the race.