10 Tips for preparing for your first Ironman

Signing up to your very first Ironman is thrilling but terrifying. You can’t really know what to expect until you’ve completed your first race. But to help you prepare we’ve put together 8 top tips for training for the Ironman.
It IS about the bike…

And the helmet and the cycling shoes and the running shoes. You need quality gear to run an ironman triathlon. Skimping on a helmet could put your life at risk, and poor quality shoes could put you out of the game. So make sure you invest in decent gear including a good trisuit. The trisuit allows you to swim, bike and run in one outfit, saving you plenty of changing time and frustration. Also get a good heart rate monitor to monitor yourself and your progress.

Another pro tip: after making a substantial investment in your bike, make sure its insured. It would be terrible to see your investment ruined after a fall or mishap. Speak to Cyclesure about bicycle insurance that covers everything from theft to accident damage. In fact, we can even insure your trisuit.

Focus on your weakness.

Before doing your first Ironman you need to be strong in all three disciplines. It’s natural to spend more time training on the disciplines you enjoy best, but this could leave you ill-prepared. Unfortunately, you need to train hard in the parts you don’t like as much. If you feel like you’ve hit a wall, hire a trainer to help you overcome your weaknesses.

Choose your race carefully.

Think carefully about where you want to do your first ironman. The last thing you need is to select and event very far away and then find yourself jet-lagged and exhausted by the time you arrive.

Prepare for every eventuality.

Life happens, and sometimes things don’t go according to the playbook. Make sure you have a backup plan in case you can’t make it to the Ironman because of sickness or injury.

The Cyclesure Ironman Event Cancellation Cover offers cover for your financial loss if something happens preventing you from attending the Ironman event. This includes unforeseen illnesses, death of a family member, redundancy at work, and even a city on your itinerary suffering a terrorist attack. And all this is offered for only R600 for R10 000 of cover.

Eat, eat, eat.

If you’re training for the Ironman, you can’t really be counting calories. Your body needs fuel and lots of it. Of course, the better the quality of your fuel, the better your performance will be, so stick to good foods.

Lean proteins make excellent recovery foods, so eat them within 45 minutes of your training workouts to help repair microscopic damage to your muscle tissue. Get some green veggies in because they’re high in iron. Fill up on fruit and snacking veggies when you’re feeling peckish. Complex carbs like rice and potatoes are great for endurance exercise. So this isn’t the time to try out any new diet – but eat carbs in moderation, balancing them with protein and veggies.

Never change anything in a race that you haven’t done in training. This includes changing what you eat on race day. Plan your race and race your plan.

Don’t be daunted by the swim.

The swimming portion of the event can be the most intimidating for first timers. It’s quite terrifying to dive into the water with hundreds of other participants. A top tip from Ironman pros is to do as many open water swims as you can, and try familiarise yourself with the feeling of being surrounded by flailing arms and legs. Try to train in open water once a week, but if that’s not possible, add weighted buoys or bands to your arms and legs when training in the pool, to make swim training tougher.

There’s a time to take it easy.

Sure, you need to keep up a strict training regime, but don’t be too hard on yourself. If you start feeling run down, you notice the sniffles or a sore throat, back off for a bit – you might be overtraining. If you’re constantly tired or your joints and muscles constantly ache, you may need to take a few days off to regroup and relax. Rather set back your training by a day or two than end up sick for weeks.

Family matters.

Doing an Ironman is a balancing act. You need to make sure you still fit in time with family and friends, as well as your work responsibilities. Setting a regular schedule helps the important people in your life know when and where you will be training, so you can plan around it.

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