Ironman - Advice For Anyone Thinking About Attempting Their First Ironman

Having just completed my first Ironman race, I thought I'd jot down the key learning points I picked up along the way.  

If anyone asked me for advice, this is what I'd tell them as they started down the road to the challenge of a long triathlon.  Especially those of us who have more years behind than in front of use.

Of course, I am not an expert.  I do not have loads of Ironman events under my belt, so I can't speak from a wealth of knowledge.  In fact, that's the point.  It's all so fresh and new that my perspective isn't dulled by routine. 

I'm going say a lot of good things about my coach, Joe Beer.  If you know a coach you recommend please do so in the comments below and say why.  To keep reading, open this page.

My First Ironman, Maastricht 2016

I survived Ironman Maastricht in a respectable time for a first-timer of 13hrs 13minutes.  It was a good day.

Later I'll write a piece about what I learnt on my two-year journey in the hope it might help others.

For now, these are my immediate thoughts and race report.

The 2.2mile river swim was a spectacular location.

Liz thought I was kidding, "Surely it's just a city" she demanded.  (If you'd like to read more, please open this page).

The Training Works - First Race of 2016

Photo: Triquetra Photography / Stuart Gillespie
Some of you will know I'm training for my first Ironman ("and your last", says Liz), writing about the experience in a separate blog here.

Yesterday was the first test of almost eight months of winter training and I'm pleased with the results. I took part in the LochLoMan Triathlon, a middle distance event with a 1.2ml swim, 53mile bike and 13ml run.  That's roughly a half-Ironman distance.

I knocked 16 minutes off my previous half-ironman time at Lanzarote, improving in the splits in all three disciplines.

I ran the half-marathon in under two hours, a personal best and something I've hitherto been unable to achieve in competition. (Open to read more)

Our Tour de Hebrides

This is a great Hebridean bike tour.

No huge mileages, you can travel ultra-light and it is easy to organise at the last minute when you've seen the current weather forecast - that's important because travelling with the wind at your back is gives a much more pleasurable experience.

Our trip was all last-minute.  On the Saturday we decided to go, so I fixed up the bikes with racks and bar-bag holders.  On Sunday we packed and waited for the evening long-range TV weather forecast.

On Monday, we started riding.  We were home again Friday evening.

If the route interests you, I suggest you start and end at Oban where there's long term parking in front of the Youth Hostel. (Open to read more)

Deep Water Running for Ankle Injuries

Since spraining my ankle last October I've done a lot of deep water running.  Along the way I've picked up a few ideas which work for me so I thought I'd share them here in case they work for you too. (This article also appears at My First Ironman blog)

Deep Water Running is a zero impact training alternative to regular running after it was recommended by Coach Joe Beer.

Done correctly it works the cardio respiratory system and many of the same muscles as regular running, without the impact.  Obviously, it doesn't work the calf muscle as there's nothing to push-off, but the research suggests it's way better than nothing. (Open to read more)

Video, Swim Progression and Training Camps

Our second Open Water Swim Camp with Swim For Tri has just ended so let me reflect on how they've helped. (This article also appears on My First Ironman blog)

For me the real benefit didn't come on the first camp itself but once in the pool back home when I put into practice the drills I'd been taught.

Progression is slow (especially at my age) liked by Dan Bullock of Swim For Tri, as more akin to learning a language than a sport.

Please bear this in mind when you look at the photos and video below - I don't turn into Michael Phelps in 12 months.  Progression is slow and gradual, the visual changes quite subtle, but the feel in the water is quite different. (Open to read more)

Attempting My First Ironman Race

This will be the year I attempt my first Ironman event.

I've been thinking about it for a while.  I know the training demands are huge and consequently, there's a significant risk I won't even make the start line.

But as I've previously written, I like to attempt things where the outcome is uncertain.  If you know you can do it then, where's the risk?  In other words, what's the point?

The first post on this blog was 7th November 2006, and while it reflects lots of changes in our loves, I don't want it to become purely a record for my Ironman training.

There is more to life.

So I have started a new blog, specifically about training for my first Ironman event.  

Some of the posts I write in the coming year will find their way onto both blogs, and some of the relevant ones from here are re-published there.  If you're interested in how a bloke who is pushing 60 years old is training for the toughest race of his life then you might find it interesting.

Meanwhile this blog will remain a place where I try to write about Cycling, Sea Kayaking and Life in the Scottish Highlands.

Our Essential Kit for Winter Open Water Swimming

We swim in Loch Sunart pretty much every week so we're starting to learn what equipment we need to stay warm.

We're still relatively new to regular open water swimming and haven't done a full winter.

So I've taken advice from more experienced people like triathlete Sean McFarlane and Dan Bullock of SwimForTri, whose open water swim camp we went to in (balmy) Lanzarote.

I've combined their advice with our own experience for this short article.