5 Tips for Keeping Your Sanity While Training for Ironman

From Triathlete.com
By Steven Moody


Photo by Mike Crane

Training for the 140.6-mile adventure is daunting, and you may be wondering where you’ll find the time to master three sports while balancing life.

So you signed up for your first full Ironman, and are now feeling quite daunted by the potential volume of training/commitment involved. It’s true that training for an Ironman is not an insignificant undertaking—after all, we all only have so much time in a day; and work, life, and family commitments need to be managed in that same time (not to mention sleep!)

As such, when talking to athletes pondering how to overcome this challenge, I tell them to think of their day as a 24-hour pie chart, in which the segments (training, family, sleep etc.) must be adjusted to fit your individual situation. Here we’ll discuss some simple strategies to help you get the most out of your chart.

Strategy 1: Involve your support crew in the planning process.
Even before looking at managing your time, the first key factor in setting yourself up for success is to involve the people around you in the planning process. This is not one of those times when it is better to ask for forgiveness than permission (unlike many of my bike purchases!). To survive and thrive in an Ironman year, the support from your nearest and dearest will be vital. So you should to sit everyone down and talk through what you are planning and what is involved.

Cover what the year might look like in terms of heavy training times (i.e. four weeks out from race date), and how your training will fit in with everyone’s plans. When are holidays, weddings and big family events happening? Are there clashes? How will you manage them? You will also need to agree what a typical training week might need to look like, i.e. does it work to do your long bike on a Sunday when kids need to be dropped to sports? Setting up the correct “skeleton” week, as I call it with my squad, really does help minimize unnecessary friction from the start.

Note well that part of this planning should include an agreed-upon date/movie night, family fun days etc. Remember, you are not the only person in this! The more you make your support crew part of your Ironman journey, rather than victims of it, the easier your time management task will be.

Strategy 2: Get a solid training plan
Do your research early in relation to this, as there are multiple training plan resources at your disposal. Free plans online, customizable training plans, and individual coaching are all good options, depending on your situation. There is no right answer for everyone, so it’s up to you to figure out your budget, the level of oversight you want, and your flexibility.

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