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.
IRONMAN TRANSITION TRAINING
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.
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.
PACE IS THE KEY
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.
BIKE NUTRITION AND HYDRATION
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.
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.