Have you ever noticed that there are always 10 secrets to being succesful in something? A search on the internet reveals the following:
"The 10 Secrets to Being Rich"
"The 10 Secrets to a Better Life"
"The 10 Secrets to Being a Master Networker"
"The 10 Secrets to Getting Into the Best B-School"
It goes on and on. I guess some of these "secrets" are worth reading about. But it all comes down to whether it works for you personally or not. If it does great. if not, then just find something that does. So, in that spirit, I've come up with the 10 Secrets to a Successful Ironman Finish (including Training for one). Please keep in mind that I am a one time IM finisher so I'm not the expert. But it's in my quest for a 2nd consecutive IM finish that I have learned some secrets that might help. Here goes:
1. Stay Injury Free. Try to, anyway. If you do get injured-get it treated right away. Don't Wait! It may get worse.
2. Follow a Training Plan. There are alot of free ones out there. The book IronFit has plans for 3 different levels which work. I used the competitive finish plan. Or you could hire a coach. A more expensive way to go but effective.
3. Use a Heart Rate Monitor. It's a long day. You need to train with one to develop a good base and you need to race with one to make sure you have something left in the tank near the end.
4. Talk to IM Finishers. Someone who has finished an IM, specifically the IM you are signed up for, can be an invaluable source of information about the race, the course, where to stay, etc.
5. Visit the Race Course & Train there. Take a weekend and go visit the race site. Ride the bike course, hit the run course and do the swim, if possible. I didn't do that the first time and wished I had.
6. Get Your Nutrition Right. Practice your Nutrition on your long training rides and long training runs. Once your plan is set, don't introduce anything new on race day. FYI, try to drink the same drink that will be given out during the race.
7. Prep the Family. This should really be more like, get the family buy-in. This is critical. I've said it before but worth stating again.
8. Keep a Journal. I find it helpful to record my training activities, how certain nutritional supplements work, training methods that worked, how I felt during a specific training run, etc. I also use an on-line service (trainingpeaks.com) to record data. You can bet very technical here. I don't. I use the basics.
9. Sleep. Find the right number of hours, probably 7 or 8, that work for you and stick with it. This is a hard one but can really help especially those last 3 to 4 weeks before the race.
10. Have Fun. The mental part of training can be brutal. I know when you get 2 months out before race day, it keep be overbearing. Don't be afraid to skip a workout here and there (not too many), take a day off (don't train 7 days a week) and make sure you are having fun. If it's not fun, is it worth it? Every Monday is my day off, which helps after tough weekends.