Training for my first IronMan

”Short” story how I did my first IronMan Triathlon. 🙂

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I was active and fit my whole life. Everything I tried and trained (except football) I was good at. Strated with tennis when I was three, around age of ten started playing basketball every day after school and later joined the club. In 1997 when I was sixteen discovered rock climbing, fell in love in it…and trained traveled and climbed like crazy next ten+years. Got little bit bored of just climbing so I started cycling and running just to change the activity. Felt good while running, and I notice that my body adapts quick to it.

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One day I saw a footage of IronMan World Championship on Hawaii, and that was a trigger in my head. I want to do it. But it was almost imposible to think that I can swim 3.8km bike 180km and run a full 42.2km marathon in one go. I knew it is possible if I put hours of work in it. So I started. Made a plan to do a few maratons, and to prepare myself for first half IronMan 70.3.

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I had almost no experience in swimming. Maybe I swam for 50-100m max. haha 🙂 Luckily for me, swiming in IronMan is the shortest and take least time to do. Started going to local lake and swam there at least 2-3times a week, in winter to nearest swiming pool. Had a few freezing experiences. A swim coach friend gave me some tips how to fix my poor technique. Progress went slow but I felt more confident in water.

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I also started cycling and running regularly. Made myself a training plan for whole year, and tried to stick to it as much as possible. My average training week was: swimming 2-3 times around 1-1.5h sessions, bike 2-3 times around 2-5h long rides, run 3-4 times from 45m to 2h runs, and gym training 1-2 times a week. I trained 6 days a week, usually two trainings a day, had one restday a week.

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I was also paying attention to my nutrition which is really important when you train so much. I was very lean, 185cm high, weight around 71.5kg, my body fat was from 4.2 to 3.5%. My diet was mostly fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and some meat and fish. Average breakfast was cereals with nuts, fruits and honey. Lunch was pasta or rice with lentils or beans with salad. Dinner was similar like lunch chicken, turkey or fish, with potato and salat. Along the day I ate dried and fresh fruits like bananas, figs, berries and raw walnuts, hazelnuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Water and juices, I took between 2-4L every day depending on outside temperature and type of training.

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At the begining of season I tried to do more volume and less intesive training, just to build up my capacities for the distance. Longer bike rides 3-5h, flats and roling hills. Moderate tempo with not much intensity. Getting used to aero position on the TT bike, it was quite different than a regular road bike position. Later into the season my rides become more intense, with more speed, 1h tempo rides. Had only one long 4+ hour ride, and two 2-2.5h tempo and hill trainings. It gave me more power while kepping my endurance.

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Running had a similar principles, longer runs for the start, and for me that was between 15-20km runs with moderate tempo 5.30min/km. Later on I started with tempo runs 8-12km and interval trainings e.g. 10x 800m with tempo 4min/km, or 12x 500m with tempo 3.45min/km with easy jog 2min brake between sets. I was also running up stairs, my nearest 30+ floor building was perfect. Really good power endurance training, I did 7-12 sets of 33 floors with active 4min. break while running down. I experimented by doing each stair, every second stair and every third stair, a big difference both for muscles and heart rate. I loved it.

In the gym I mostly did strenght training for legs, some core training for abbs and lower back and whole body streching.

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Along the way I did some road races, my 21.1km in 1.19.55 and 42.2km in 2.59.30, my half IronMan in 4.42.24.

And finally finished my first IronMan, it was in Hungary 2011, in time 10.30.45. I was so thrilled and happy.

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