How prepared you are for your challenge will become clear on the run. Here’s 36-time iron finisher Mark Kleanthous on putting yourself in top shape for the marathon leg
Even if you’re experienced at
Olympic- and middle-distance triathlon or marathon running, I’d suggest you pick an easier course for your first Ironman race. You need to learn your craft before entering and training for Ironman UK or Ironman Wales, as these are some of the tougher official Ironman courses in the world. Aim for a race that’s local to you if possible, as I strongly recommend you run some of the route several times during the months leading up to your race.
The winter is the time to build a solid foundation and to gain fitness. You can achieve this by having a mental and physical break at the end of the triathlon season. When you resume training, during the winter keep it simple and focus on the five pillars of success, which are efficiency, consistency, variety, progressive training and rehearsing run nutrition. Increase the frequency, before then reducing the regularity and increasing the distances of your sessions.
You can add variety to create regular training stimulus, then add progression with more climbing elevation per hour during your longer running workouts. Variety is good for the mind and constantly creates a training stimulus. Aim to always train on time but avoid being concerned by average speeds; become more efficient on the run by running at an all-day pace.
I’m amazed how many enquires I get in the final six weeks before most UK iron-distance triathlons on what to eat and drink, and how far the longest run should be. During the off-season you must practise your run and nutritional intake on flat routes to establish your individual tipping point of what you can digest to prevent delayed gastric emptying, which leads to digestive meltdown during the marathon.