How I PRd My Ironman Marathon

How I PRd My Ironman MarathonFrom what I have seen, read, heard, and experienced, the Ironman marathon is one of the toughest parts of the race.

Even for runners, experienced triathletes, and those who have completed their training “perfectly”, too many factors come into play after 5-10 ½ hours of swimming and biking.

Whether it’s fatigued legs, tired heart, overworked brain, or lack of digesting the calories, electrolytes, and nutrients you are feeding yourself, I have seen the best endurance triathletes in the world reduced to a walk (or something resembling a walk, shuffle, wog, drag) by the end of the marathon.

I completed my first Ironman distance tri in August 2001 and immediately signed up for another then another then another. I added in some shorter distance tris and runs for training, but always focused on the long distance.

I typically finished in the 30%-ish of my age group but I was determined to get faster and train more and maybe on the off chance when the planets were aligned with the sun on the 1st Wednesday after the full moon I could MAYBE qualify for the “elusive” Kona World Championships.

But I kept training and getting similar results. I was really hard on myself telling myself I needed to eat less, train more, blah blah blah. I continued to disappoint myself so in 2008 I decided to take a year off to get my HEAD in the right spot. A year turned into two. And in 2010 I was ready to come back.

It was a harder process of getting in shape because I had gained 20 pounds and no longer taught regular fitness classes. I struggled through an early season ironman distance race and then started to focus on my nutrition and recovery more. By the end of that year I had one of my “easiest” races ever!

But even in my easiest race, the marathon at the end of the ironman distance was always pretty ugly.

Even after I had done hundreds of 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon races, I still couldn’t nail it! I typically had bad GI distress coupled with achy joints and tired muscles. If I was going to improve on my run, I would HAVE to make some changes.

The reason I just shared a bit of my background with you is so you can understand that I am an average runner and athlete. I am not a natural cyclist or runner and it’s taken me years to learn about my body and fine tune my training so that I get the best result I can get.

I have read my share of tri stories and training programs and bios and although they are SUPER inspiring, there aren’t many that have helped me in a practical way. They are either written by amazing athletes or people who have had tragic accidents or illnesses and have overcome and conquered.

My story has neither…I am a boring, average girl wanting to continue to set PRs and possibly hit some good luck at a super cold, hilly, high altitude race where such a high percentage of people didn’t finish that I could finally grab that Kona slot!

So I want you to know that you don’t need to be a naturally gifted runner, you don’t need to have a compelling “why”, and you don’t need to do anything super crazy to feel great during the marathon portion of an ironman distance triathlon. I made 5 simple changes to my training that I want to share with you.

In my 10th Iron distance triathlon over a span of 13 years, I finally had an awesome marathon. I attribute it to these 5 things…

1. I ran more overall, total mileage, frequency, and distance

2. I cleaned up my eating

3. I was on my bike more, mostly on my trainer

4. I swam longer sets with more drills, fins, recovery

5. I visualized my race every single night before bed

Now I know you may be looking at these 5 “secrets” to my success and be thinking “DUH” but there are a lot of reasons we don’t do any or all of these, and I hadn’t for 9 other races, so I couldn’t be the ONLY one.

The reasons I hadn’t done all 5 of these before is…

1. I was addicted to junk food

2. I worked long hours

3. I was too tired off the bike to run

4. I wasn’t motivated to get on the bike

5. I was always sore/fatigued

6. I had reoccurring overuse injuries when I added more running

7. I didn’t have the energy for long workouts

8. I thought I had to do my long workouts back to back

9. I was following a strict training program that didn’t allow me to listen to my body

10. I wasn’t in a place in my life to take the time to allow my mind to focus on me

Train Smarter for Better Results: How To PR Your Iron Distance MarathonGet the book! Train Smarter for Better Results: How To PR Your Iron Distance Marathon

In 2013 when I PRd the marathon, I had FINALLY found a way to get around all 10 of these obstacles and I share them in my book “Train Smarter for Better Results” which you can get here (www.KirstenMcCay.com) for only $2.99.

I hope this gives you hope that you too can conquer the 26.2 mile run after swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112.

HAVE FUN!! And see you next week!!

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