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Making the jump to the full distance

2014 Ironman 70.3 World Championship - Mont Tremblant, Quebec, CA
You’ve done a few triathlons and now you’re itching to step up to the full distance. Here are some great tips from pro Angela Naeth for making the jump to an Ironman or similar long-distance race.
  1. Find the Time – It’s a race that will take 10+ hours to complete. That requires a lot of work beforehand. Set yourself up with success by planning ahead and looking at any obstacles that may come your way in the next five to seven months. You’ll need some big days of training and recovery. Having a solid plan for the weeks and months ahead will help you get to the start line happy and healthy.
  2. Be Committed – A full distance triathlon is a big commitment. It’s 225 kilometres of racing! Long before youThe swim start at the 2013 XTERRA World Championship step foot on the start line, it requires a commitment from you to do the much-needed training, learn about nutrition and have a solid mental approach. Keep your goal in mind everyday by posting it somewhere you can see (like a mirror or fridge). Get motivated for an amazing experience that’ll change your life.
  3. Include the Family – Your family is a key component in your success and having their support will help you through the next couple months of training. Plan events and training around your season by including them on your long days (like get the kids to bike alongside you for your long run or take the family to the park while you run laps). It’ll take some creativity on your part but having your family be part of this journey will make it that much more meaningful.
  4. Plan out your season – Signing up for your first long distance race is exciting. Be sure to have five or more months before race date so you can put in the necessary training.  Add in a few races to build up to the big event. A good rule of thumb is one or two half-distances or Olympic distance events leading into the race, with the last race being three to five weeks prior to your target race.
  5. Enjoy the Long Days – Get ready for some long training days either on the bike or in brick format. These can be as simple as a one-hour swim, four hour bike and 30 min. run, or at least six hours on the bike. Building these long days into your training will give you the endurance needed for the race. You’ll want to build up to these days and really hit them hard during the four to six weeks prior to your race. Signing up for a 100+ km bike event is a great way to get motivated for these.
  6. Learn Nutrition – You can train right all the way up to race day but if you haven’t paid attention to your nutrition, come race day you may have some big surprises (and most likely not the ones you’ll enjoy!). You’ll want to practice not only race nutrition but also understand what specific fuel your body needs. A coach is a great resource for this. Three big factors for the race will be fluids, sodium and carbohydrate intake.
  7. Find a Mentor or Coach – Work with someone who has been there. Hiring a coach is a good idea for a first full distance race to help you not only plan out your season but provide daily guidance with your workouts.
  8. Get Comfortable on the Bike – Time in the saddle in important. Your time on the bike will help not only the biking portion of the event but also your running, as endurance on the bike will help with endurance for the marathon! In addition, make sure to invest in some good quality bike shorts. There is nothing worse than chaffing and discomfort halfway into a long ride when you’re far from home.
  9. Learn Pacing and Intensity – Understanding what you can handle in terms of pace and intensity in each discipline is the key to long distance racing. Determine these numbers in your training as you build up to your event. Your long training days and bricks are good for this. Your coach can also help you find a good pace and intensity level.
  10. Use Gadgets – Learning how to use a heart-rate monitor may help you determine your pace and intensity level. Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 2.52.59 PMHaving some data to help you train and race is key for these races and help you stay in the zones required to have a successful day. A heart-rate monitor and bike computer are two great pieces of equipment to consider investing in.
  11. Build up your Mental Game – Your mindset is a vital component of a great training season and race. Practice finding your internal calmness and building mental toughness to keep pushing when the training gets hard. Everyone has low points in a race and knowing how to deal with these will help you on race day. Visualize the finish as things get tough. Keep your excitement and motivation, knowing that your hard work will pay off! One step leads to another. And before you know it, you’ll be calling yourself an Ironman!