“You didn’t come here to walk”

Worlds Austrailia
Team USA ITU World Championship

The reason I’ve done my last Ironman 10 times:

We don’t really like talking about this, but anyone who has raced an Ironman distance triathlon knows, or is at least familiar with, the death march.  For newbies, the death march is also known as the marathon leg of the race.  During the marathon you will undoubtedly find near half the field, trudging along at a walkers pace, or just outright walking.  They appear as well clothed zombies, their blank stares read “how much farther is this thing?”  You see, they wanted to do Ironman, but Ironman is doing them.  Don’t believe for one second, that I have not been among these living dead.  During my first I-man, I was walking along the out portion of the marathon, doing the march, when my training partner and friend who was traveling the back portion of the out and back yelled at me “you didn’t come here to walk”.  Easy for you to say was my first thought, but I began to slowly run and recovered enough to have a second thought.  “How did I get to this point?”  After my finish and proclamation of  “I will never do that again”, I spent the off season formulating a plan.  My plan would keep me from walking on an I-man course ever again.  Here are 5 important points of that plan.

Spend more time on the run training:  Prioritize your training to the run.  Ironman is a runners sport.  When you’re training you have three disciplines to prepare for, the run training is, most likely, the first to go.  Out spinning 50 on the bike is easier than running 10, but if you opt for the bike and not the running shoes on those important training days, you will Zombie on race day.  

Save a little on the bike:  In the swim most people are in survival mode, it’s very hard to know where you are in the pack, therefore, you’re not able to judge your place.  When you exit the water, you become aware of your position, all the spectators get you juiced, and it gets really exciting.  Most will fly from the transition area at a pace far above their training levels, for the less experienced it will take a few miles to settle down, and for some the excitement will last for hours.  If you are one of the latter, you will spend all of your energy on the bike, and your run is going to get ugly.

Drink, drink, drink:  You’re carrying those water bottles for a good reason.  The race promoters have spent, hours or even,  days planning where the water stations are to be placed.  They have already figured out that you should need water at a certain point, they’re probably right, trust them.  If you have gotten to a water station and you have not emptied at least one of your bottles, you probably messed up.  Dehydrate, and you’re looking at Zombie.

Eat, eat, eat:  Everyone thinks of triathlon as a three discipline sport.  While that is true, I believe triathlon is a four discipline event, the fourth discipline being nutrition.  You should be spending some of your training time thinking about your bodies nutritional needs.  You should be figuring out, and have a set plan as to, how you are going to fuel your 12 thousand+ calorie day.  Do you know that feeling you get when your car is on E?  You kinda take your foot off the gas, get all tensed up, and pray you can make it to the gas station or home.  Why would you want to drive your body on E? Isn’t this the day you trained a whole year for?  If you ignore nutrition you will Zombie.

Pray to STFU:  Ok, so I made St. Fu up during Ultraman.  St. Fu is the patron saint of Shut The “F” Up.  If you believe that you have put in the right amount of training, you saved some off the bike, you’re well hydrated and nourished, but your mind keeps telling how much it hurts and how tired you are, St. Fu and run.  I have come to believe that the human body is capable of withstanding far more abuse than the mind is willing to accept.  I am not telling you to run through injury, I’m telling you to run through the pain, run through the discomfort, and become what you are striving to be called.  After all, “You didn’t come here to walk”.