Ironman Triathlon training- Do you measure up?

Ironman Triathlon training-Do you measure up? Are you meticulous when it comes to religiously keeping track of all that you do in preparation for your upcoming Ironman? There are good and bad points about always adhering to a set training program.

“We had no idea how far we had been, how many calories we’d burned, what heart-rate we’d maxed out at. There was no data to download or logbook to tick. This was raw and elemental, the way sport and adventure has always been. I’m sure it was the making of me.” –Chrissie Wellington in her book A Life Without Limits.

Chrissie is referring to one of her weekend rides with several friends through the unforgiving landscape and oxygen-sucking high altitude of Nepal long before she became an Ironman.

It’s so true that it can therapeutic, uplifting, and rewarding to challenge yourself mentally and physically on occasion without following a set program.

This is especially true if you are training for an Ironman Triathlon that is sure to test you on many levels.

Chrissie Wellignton-a life without limits

A must read. Chrissie writes like she races. No holds barred and pedal to the metal.

In those long Winter months of training before your Spring or Summer Ironman Triathlon it wouldn’t hurt to park your running shoes beside your bike and head out into the mountains with a few willing and able friends and cross-country ski 30k or 40k over hill and dale until you feel you can’t go on.

And then keep going.

Or maybe tackle a challenging Mountain Bike ride at a high altitude that taxes every fiber of your being and tests your mental, emotional, and physical ability all at the same time.

And then keep going.

No matter what level you are competing at, the Ironman Triathlon is going to hurt at some point in the race. By teaching yourself to continue on through the pain you will evolve into a force to reckoned with on the Ironman course regardless if you are a pro or an age-grouper.

There are many ways to teach yourself to deal with pain that do not include 5k swims, 100k rides on a sleek tri-bike or 3-hour runs on a paved road.

You can be part of the Ironman Triathlon Death March or not, but it is far more fun to be making your way through the Ironman marathon with conviction when others are struggling to put one foot in front of the other.


The long training season can wear away at you and often you may force yourself to go for a workout when you feel drained and ache all over.

You do it because that’s what’s called for in your training program.

By the same token you may feel great and all charged up to train, but your program says you should rest.

Either way you are not listening to your body and that is often the road to injury, disillusionment and wasted opportunity. If you feel great, train a few extra days without rest. If you feel run-down, take some extra rest days.

Whatever direction your triathlon training takes you, whether it is the Chrissie way or the way of the per-ordained training program you will benefit by keeping track of everything you do on your journey to the finish line of your first triathlon or the Ironman itself.


Every triathlete should truly get in tune with their body.

What diet suits you best? Are you on a high carbohydrate diet or a diet rich with protein? Are you a Vegetarian or meat-eater?

If you keep track of your over-all eating habits it could give you some clues as to what food choices work best for you.

What is your normal body-weight? It’s not necessary to fixate on being lighter as it does not guarantee you will be a better triathlete but weighing yourself at strategic times can provide some important training and racing data.

For example if you have lost 4-5 pounds after a 70-Mile bike ride it should ring a few alarm bells. You may be bordering on dehydration and not making adjustments to your fluid replacement plan might just cost you on race day.

By far the biggest problems doctors deal with in Ironman Medical tents are centered around dehydration.

How often do you deviate from the swim, bike, and run routine synonymous with triathlete training and challenge yourself physically and mentally in different arenas Chrisse Wellington style?

Where did you go, what did you do, and how did it feel? These are critical questions and you should keep track of what you did.

There is nothing more discouraging than having the worst or best Ironman Triathlon of your life and not having any idea how you got there.

I can speak from experience. I was a 12-hour something age-grouper for the most part and one year in Ironman Canada I broke the tape in 10:46.

I had run the same course six times before that year and now suddenly posted a time that was well over an hour faster than any of the others.

I had no idea what I had done so differently and whatever I tried in the years to follow I was never able to repeat that performance no matter what I did. There is no really way of remembering exactly what you did over a season of training if you keep no records.

What are you drinking on the Ironman course?

Keep track of everything you drink in training, race-eve, and Ironman race day.

It’s not necessary to fixate on how much you weigh as being lighter does not necessarily mean you will perform better.

Over the years I never really worried about how much I ate when I was triathlon training. After a long bike I always ate tons because my body demanded it. For the most part your body will tell you when it is properly re-fueled.

I used to call it my appestat. The more calories I burned the more fuel I had to take in to replace them. It always seemed to work out.

-Keep track of your training regimen, new equipment, what you eat before, during, and after your longer work-outs. Regardless if your training involves swimming, biking, running, mountain-biking, kayaking, or cross-country skiing, keep track of it.

-Keep careful track of how you tapered for your Ironman. This is crucial as many triathletes go into the race tired.

-Keep track of what you do race week. Did you go on a long bike bike in the heat of the day three or four days before the race? Record it. Perhaps you were not properly hydrated going into the race because of that ride.

ironman triathlon finish line

good race or bad, keep track of what got you to the Ironman finish line.

-Keep track of everything you eat and drink race week. Pay special attention to race-eve and race-morning.

-Keep track of what you eat and drink out on the course. How much water? How much Gatorade? How much chocolate milk, how many gels or bananas, or how much of whatever you take into your system. This is vitally importanty and shortly after the race you should record it all for future reference.

Regardless if your Ironman result is disappointing or spectacular, it is very important to know exactly what you did to arrive at the finish line in the race-time and physical condition you were in when you broke the tape.

If you enjoyed this article you might also like The Ironman Triathlon Negative-Split Strategy.


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