Great Tips for Your First Ironman Triathlon!

Injuries sidelined 2 of our #STRONG2014 athletes last year.  This year they have big goals!

     dan Dan

  • Complete my first 70.3
  • It was supposed to happen in 2013 until I broke my foot.



  • complete my first Ironman!
  • I was sidelined by an accident in 2013.

We are fortunate to have great SKIN STRONG friends who are Ironman athletes.  We asked what tips they would give to athletes racing their first 1/2 and first full Ironman race.  These great tips are for you Dan and Geni!

“Prepare. Smile. Come up with a race mantra and use it during training. ” ‘becca (Galveston & Branson 70.3)

“Prepare as diligently and thoroughly as you possibly can and get to the start line healthy. From there, you race a smart race, trust your fitness and preparation, and immerse yourself into the day, enjoying every aspect of the experience. That’s all you can really do.” Chuck (16x Ironman finisher, including Florida multiple times, Wisconsin, Couer d’Alene, Arizona, Louisville, & Texas.  44 70.3 distance Triathlons)

“Stay calm in the chaos of the swim start, thank the volunteers and smile throughout the day!” Brad – Pro Triathlete and Coach (There’s not enough room to print all Brad’s Ironman finishes)

“Nutrition is the 4th event… practice it like crazy.  Practice eating while riding and running.  Learn what doesn’t upset the stomach.  But come on… If you aren’t properly equipped with Slick and Slather you might as well quit before you start…  :-)” Corey (Kansas 70.3, Austin 70.3, & Ironman Arizona)

“Here’s  four instead of one but I was on a roll and went with it.

1.       It all starts with showing up.
Its 4am on a Saturday. You are awake. Dressed head-to-toe in spandex and have consumed a bagel. Why? Because this day is unlike any other day. Its race day! And because when we show up, something may happen; when we don’t show up, something definitely won’t.
2.       Reach out for help.
I never learned how to do a flying dismount until about two years in to my triathlon career. Why? Because I was too afraid to ask. Once I humbled myself, swallowed some pride, and just asked – it was easy. Ask for help. You will be better for it.
3.       Rest.
Most triathletes love to talk about swimming, cycling, and running ALL THE TIME (I’m guilty). And so I thought recovery days were just a suggestion from my coach (sorry Moe). Anyone can go hard all the time; however, it takes discipline and effort to rest.
4.       Focus on the effort, not the outcome.
The outcome is not always within your control. Life happens. You can register for a race, have all of the fancy gear, and train like a mad man (or woman) – to have an event cancelled due to inclement weather, have a last minute and unavoidable work trip, or any other number of life’s curveballs. Focus on the effort. The rest is out of your hands.”  Richard (Galveston 70.3, Ironman Florida)

“Be confident in your “why,” and make sure that your family is behind you 100% in this journey.  To prepare adequately and wisely for a 70.3 & 140.6 requires a large investment of time, energy, money, focus, etc.  Without a God-given why and complete support from your loved ones, the cost will be too high and someone(s) will unnecessarily suffer (you and/or your family – during training and/or racing).  However, if your race is a worshipful response to the Lord’s leading and your family is investing in this mission with you, it can be an amazing, strengthening experience.” Chris (Ironman Lake Placid & FCA Endurance Director)

“Swim buoy to buoy…Ride only 10miles at at time…and Run aid station to aid station…. Smile all the time!!!
Also, Never ever give up…. Put that in your noggin and remember it all day!!!” (Galveston 70.3, New Orleans 70.3, Steelhead 70.3, Ironman Florida, Lake Placid, Arizona – probably more but we’ve lost count)

“Visualizing the race before you ever get there in a very detailed way.  Just pretend the race is over and your sharing what happened with someone. Shawn and I used to do this on long rides and and now I try to do this with all my athletes.

Start a conversation with someone and have them ask you detailed questions about the race as if it had already happened. Really detailed stuff like, “What did you eat that morning?” and things like “When you were in the water getting ready, where was the sun?  In your eyes?  What did you do about that?  Were you nervous? Scared? Did you feel ready”  Answer them and resolve them.  The questions need to get more detailed and included difficult situations that might happen on the actual race day like “You got your goggles kicked off? What did you do to get back swimming?  You had a flat?  What did you do?  You dropped your nutrition bottle? What did you do? Answer the questions by resolving the problem like,  “Yeah, I got my goggles kicked off but I quickly found them floating next to me, regained my composure, put them back on and started swimming again.”
This type of visualization makes you more calm and ready to focus on racing, not the scary “what if’s”.  It gives you a feeling of deja vu, or an “I’ve done this before and I know what to do, even when difficult things happen”.   Nothing is worse than panicking about something bad that happens or even panicking race day about a bad situation that MIGHT happen.  This type of visualization forces you to have a plan and be prepared for those situations.  It gives you the opportunity to resolve them in your head and realize your going to be OK if they happen because “I’ve done this before and have a plan.” It helps you think through everything. Have this “Post Race Conversation” with someone weeks out from the race.  If you can, have it a few times.

Start from the beginning of race day morning, all the way to the feelings you had when you cross the finish line and be as detailed as possible.  That part of crossing the finish line is important!  It gives you confidence that you will finish the race (because in your head, you already did) and those great finish line emotions are what you are after!

Oh yeah…  AND HAVE FUN!  That’s why we got into this crazy awesome sport in the first place!” Chip, triathlon coach and too many other certifications to list (Ironman Florida, Ironman Arizona)

Share your tips!


One thought on “Great Tips for Your First Ironman Triathlon!

  1. Dan Haley says:

    Reading these encouraging tips again is very helpful whilst sitting inside watching the snow come down. Thank goodness for treadmills and indoor pools. I am very looking forward to this race.
    Chris’ (FCA-E) advice about making sure your family is behind you 100% rings so true and that’s the only way my training is getting done. I have promised to keep the races shorter after this one, until both kids are in school 🙂
    Thanks again for the encouragement and I look forward to sharing the completion of my goal with you all.

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