Seven Deadly Sins of the
Ironman Beginner - Mistakes To Avoid
Training – No open water swimming practise. This is underestimated even in a wetsuit. No turns to recover like in a swimming pool. Non-stop swimming and sighting with all that nervous energy will soon wear you down. If you do not experience this vital part in training you will be lacking everything in the first hour on the bike.
Racing – Going anaerobic for first 500m of the Ironman swim never to recover again. This will almost certainly ruin your whole Ironman triathlon!
Training – Not enough Ironman pace training on the triathlon bars. Avoid hammering the shorter rides and going too slow on the longer sessions. Your key bike training should be solo at your Ironman bike effort - effort not speed. Group training makes the session go quicker but does not build up mental strength.
Racing – Letting your enthusiasm take over for the first 25-30 miles on the bike due to feeling fresh and strong. Failing to stick to your nutrition plan meaning you slow down at the end of the bike.
Training - Failing to practise a run/ walk strategy in training. Even the elite walk through feed stations (although they may have fast IM marathon splits). They have learnt to get straight back into Ironman pace without seizing up.
Racing – You must hold back in the early part of the marathon. Everyone starts off really fast - glad to get off the bike syndrome- and most slow down. If you go off too fast it is painful at the beginning, difficult later on and bloody tough at the end. Do not please the crowd too early reward them with a strong finish. Do not feel you have to run out of transition. No one is interested in your first mile split.
4. THE LAST SUPPER
Training – practise race supper and breakfast. Your last 24 hours of eating prior to the race is very important. Do not think gorging yourself will help. Aim to eat your last main meal by 6pm before race morning so you can completely digest it. Book a restaurant earlier in the week so you have a guaranteed sitting. Have a light snack before bed time. Your body will then be able to eat and digest a substantial race breakfast. Make sure you avoid fibre and quick fix foods first thing in the morning like many cereal bars made with processed cereals that are high in sugar.
Racing - Drinking more plain water than a camel in the 5 days before the Ironman. This will remove important electrolytes and a lot of your strength on race day. Have water with food and a 4:1 carbohydrate to protein sports drink at other times.
5. RETAIL THERAPY
Must have gear last minute - "All the gear but no idea". Some people eat when they are stressed, others go shopping. Triathletes are no different, the big problem is buying something new that has not been tried and tested in your long sessions before the Ironman.
A new helmet, super fast drying clothing is only better when you are use to it. If you can afford it now you could probably have afforded it 5 months ago. Trying to squeeze performance in the last few weeks by buying new items of kit also takes up too much mental energy and can be more damaging than you think!
6. JACK ALL TRADES
Racing everything because "I am doing an Ironman" rather than being focused. To do well in the Ironman you need to be selective with your racing, short races do not mimic IM race pace and too many long races result in being unable to push yourself that little extra when it really counts on Ironman day. No time for racing for racing sake. The winners of the Ironman races hardly ever race shorter events, as these compromise training.
7. TIME TARGET & TAPER
Training - Having a time target is adding extra pressure. So much can change on race day, the weather, mechanical problems, missing a drink at a feed station. Learn to train on feel, at a pace you can maintain easily for the whole distance. Estimating your time by doubling your half distance race time and adding an hour to predict your Ironman time is not recommended and is highly inaccurate.
Racing - The taper must be written down and referred to. Race week is so distracting you can easily lose your way in the last few days on unnecessary errors. No amount of training in race week will help in the Ironman, only “what you do NOT do” will improve your chances.Every extra 30 minutes of exercise in race week is depleting your energy levels rather than 30 minutes of rest to build you up.