10 Things to Consider Before Signing Up for an Ironman Distance Race

Written by, Coach Vicki Ostendorf

You are excited,  you have made the decision to sign up for Ironman.  It is one click away…just one easy click.  BUT before you hit “ACCEPT”, read through the following list for a few final thoughts.  Not all of these have to be completed before you hit the enter button, but it is the short list of things to keep in mind. 

#1- Get your family’s blessing

In my opinion, the most critical piece of training is having your significant other on board.  If he/she is not one of your biggest supporters, this is going to be an even more stressful adventure and, potentially, less fun in the thick of training.

#2- Hire a coach

(but don’t hire 3 coaches) to write your training plan.  Yes, there are many options for training programs on-line, but they are going to be “canned programs”.  If your schedule is completely flexible, you aren’t planning on any travel, you never get sick and don’t ever get injured, this is a viable option BUT the reality is, not everything is perfect and when it isn’t, who will you talk to regarding “changing the program”?  The other advantages to a coach are: you can talk to your coach about hydration/nutrition. How about accountability?  What happens when you have a bad week, or just don’t feel like training…a coach will hold you accountable and help you work through those times.  If you are left on your own, will you do that for yourself?

#3- The money you spend on registration is just the start  

Yes, it is a big gulp to begin with, but be realistic, it is just a drop in the bucket.  Depending on which venue you are signing up for, there will be travel expenses and hotel fees.  You will also need gear, nutrition, tubes, bike maintenance, there will be massages, chiropractic appointments and, did I mention nutrition?   Not to mention, when the training load increases…you are going to eat even more food to keep you going! 

#4- Find a good chiropractor and massage therapist 

You will spend many hours training and abusing your body, so, do yourself a favor and play nice.  Give your body a rest, thank it for all the hard work it is doing, treat it to a massage.  Depending on where you are in your training cycle, these are highly recommended- the more training you are doing, the more frequent the body work. If you're in the MN area we suggest Barr Chiropractic or Nova Care Rehabilitation!

#5-The importance of strength training  

It isn’t all about swimming, biking and running.  There will be plenty of that, but research has shown that strength training improves performance AND reduces the chance of injury while training.  If you don’t know what to do, hire a trainer experienced the sport of triathlon to help develop a program.


#6 – Know how to fix a flat  

If you don’t know now, don’t worry, but, make sure you know how and are proficient at it before the big day.  After 11 months of training, you don’t want a flat to ruin your day. 

#7- Know some basic bike maintenance 

This could save you a bunch of money.  After all, why pay a bike mechanic to do things that are easily done at home with very few tools or space.

#8- Get to know your diet

Remember, there are other pieces to long distance training that must be figured out….particularly, hydration and nutrition.  These are things that, as a coach, I spend many hours working on and figuring out with each athlete.  There is not a “1 way is the best way” for every athlete.  You are all different ages, sizes and shapes, and each athlete has a different plan.


#9- Join a triathlon team/club

These are great resources.  You will have others to train with.  There will be others that have completed this distance before, and will have personal experiences to share.



#10- It is going to get rough 

The training gets long, you are bound to get tired and cranky at some point, you will have long days, it will rain on some of those long days.  Regardless, at the end of all of it, it WILL be worth every moment of training and those “less fun moments” will only make you stronger.  It is going to get rough, but it WILL be worth it!


Every one needs a bit of help before you can rock your 140.6. Did you read that? Every one.  So join some others! Training with others will motivate you to go beyond your limits and keep pushing during those mornings that you really just want to curl up with your dogs. The last piece of advice we have is to get as comfortable with your upcoming race as you can. That means efficient training, getting your nutrition correct, and familiarizing yourself with your course. And if you need any help, the coaches at Tri Fitness WBL are always here to help. 

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