Tag Archives: Ironman

Tips for your first Ironman

1 Mar

A little while ago, I posted a question on social media asking for some tips. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of responses. I thought it might be helpful to categorise them and share them with you…

What is the one thing you wish you had known when training for your first Ironman?



  • Get a good coach.
  • Fink is a plan NOT gospel. Move it around, play with it and get it to suit you from one day to the next.
  • I wish I’d had a coach for the first one. Fewer hours training, better sets, and less weight lost. An hour better and healthier afterwards. Fink nearly killed me!
  • Fink was just too many hours and junk miles. If you don’t want to lay out for a coach, join a club. Loads of experience and the head coach will probably write you a plan free of charge.

Brick sessions

Brick wall

Photo by Kristina Kashtanova on Unsplash

  • You can never do too much brick training.
  • Long rides followed by long runs.
  • Long rides followed by runs off the bike.
  • Bike to run sessions.
  • More bike to run.
  • I was told a training split of 50% bike, 35% run and 15% swim.
  • Jumping rope. Skipping. Whatever you call it, strengthens the feet and makes those Achilles ultra stretchy.
  • Train alone. You wouldn’t do 112 miles in a group in an Ironman, so why go on club rides when training? Running the same – do all long runs alone at your pace, not somebody else’s.


  • Mental strength!
  • Consistency.
  • Patience. Both in training and on the day.
  • Be humble.
  • Have an attitude of gratitude.
  • You are not alone. Ask for help and you will get it. Everyone is scared during the journey and on the start line.
  • Work on your weakness and work across all your training zones.
  • Plan around kids’ school holiday and don’t book a race at the end of the summer holidays.
  • Don’t faff in transition. Get in, get out.
  • Consider how much it will cost financially (and physically 😬).
  • Treat it as three separate races and prepare for each.
  • You will feel like a million bucks and then like a piece of crap many times in the race (this is normal).
  • You never get to do your first one again so enjoy the whole experience and trust in your training. Don’t put a finish time on it save that for the next one.
  • Enjoy the journey. It’s tough, but so rewarding.


A swimmer

Photo by Mike Wilson on Unsplash

  • Don’t underestimate the swim!
  • Practice open water swimming as much as possible.
  • For a crap swimmer, a top quality wetsuit makes it easier than a cheap wetsuit. I didn’t believe it until I swapped!
  • Learn to draft in the swim (i.e. on someone’s feet) as it saves heaps of time and energy.
  • Attach a second pair of goggles to your thigh. Practice losing goggles in water to then attempt swimming in both salty and lake water without goggles.
  • If your swim is lousy and it drains you, your race could be messed up. The swim is the base of the race… if you get out of the water drained, it will be a difficult day and could cost you later in the race. It doesn’t have to be super fast, but you need to feel good when you get out of the water to get through the long bike leg, which needs to be executed to enable you to run 26.2.
  • I came out of my swim and a masochistic thought of “I actually quite enjoyed that” went through my mind. That’s how it should feel. I was slower than my predicted time but I knew what was ahead and just went steady away.



Photo by Josh Nuttall on Unsplash

There was a common theme in the comments:

  • Bike, bike and more bike.
  • Ride more, ride more, then ride some more.
  • Bike, bike and more bike.
  • Do more long rides.
  • More bike.
  • Spend more time on the bike.
  • You can’t run if you can’t bike 🚴. So bike… lots.
  • More bike, more bike, more bike.
  • Oh, and bike. The run (run/walk) is just survival: you’ve done the ‘hard’ part by then.
  • I had a strong background in running, so I took the approach of minimal bike training assuming my run strength would see me through – I did not anticipate how much the bike would take out of me leaving me tired and sore before I even started the run.
  • My train of thought exactly with my first half last summer. I never made the massive time lost on the bike up with good run. So for my second half next summer – bike training it is.
  • I fell for this train of thought also. This time it’s bike, bike, bike. I’ll tick over my running as per my plan, rather than adding more runs.
  • No junk miles and ride a lot. 2-3 minutes improvement in the swim is no good if you’re 30mins off the pace on the bike.
  • Bike… bike… bike… bike… and then when you can’t take no more… bike some more!


  • If you’re doing Bolton, hills, hills and train in the wind… And more hills.
  • I wish I’d done more hills on bike.
  • Hills on the bike.
  • Someone said push the bike training on hills until you literally can’t pedal any more. It really worked for me. It doesn’t have to be massive distance for this type of training.


  • In carbon we trust.
  • Buy a carbon 🚲 and don’t under-estimate a technical bike course.
  • A professional bike fit. This is the longest discipline and where the most time can be saved, plus you get the on the run feeling less tired.
  • For cycling, putting plenty of road miles using a mountain bike gave a really good resistance workout.
  • Spend time in the saddle on your turbo trainer.
  • Make sure you service your bike close to race day.
  • Not too close though, bike shop f**ked mine up on race week. 😉
  • Learn to pace on the bike and get a power meter and learn how to use it.
  • Once I started doing 3-8 centuries in training, my run really improved.
  • Bike on the road, in the heat, in the wind, in the rain. Don’t wimp out and get on the trainer because it’s not “perfect” weather.
  • Make sure you can beat the bike cut off time. A couple of friends got DNFs on their first attempts due to this. If you can ride the course a few months before do. It’s a good confidence boost and will tell you how much work you need to do to get round in time.
  • Don’t train too fast. Plenty people leave their best efforts out on the Sunday club ride, when most of your training should be easier paced than you might think as training constantly too hard only leads to injury. Make the hard, very hard and the steady, very steady. Too much middle ground hampers progression.
  • There’s no such thing as a good bike and a poor run. The difference between a great swim and a poor one is 15 minutes, but get the pacing wrong on the bike and you risk a poor run that can cost you hours.



Photo by Clique Images on Unsplash

  • More runs.
  • It’s all about the run. There’s no point in going 30 minutes quicker on the bike than you genuinely anticipated if it adversely affects your run.
  • For running, completing a marathon plenty of time before adds great confidence, so you can concentrate on the cycling!
  • Don’t go too hard during the early stages of the marathon.


Healthy food

Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash

  • Nutrition is the 4th part of the triathlon
  • Cut out sugar and use fat for fuel 😎
  • Special super awesome powders from Switzerland may not arrive in time for race day. Plan an alternative fuel strategy.
  • Don’t blame your bike when climbing hills is tough. Lose the body weight instead!
  • You can’t out-train a sh*t diet.
  • 80/20
  • Nutrition is a discipline that’s needs to be prepared and planned meticulously.
  • I bonked HARD in IMUK last year – 70 miles in and lost all energy. Only realised then I hadn’t eaten anything in the last 90 minutes. Flapjack was my saviour; my partner prefers malt loaf; for some people it’s gels all the way. Work out what works for you!
  • Nutrition is key on the bike and run.
  • Get nutrition nailed.
  • Get the nutrition right on the bike so you eat enough not to bonk, but not too much that you are too poorly to do justice to the run! 🏃‍♀🏃💩🚽😂

What do you wish you had known?

Monday Morning Motivation: Ironman 2017

4 Dec Kona podium 2017

Watching the coverage of the Ironman World Championships is inspirational… but most people don’t have 17 hours to spare, so this highlights video that focuses on ‘ordinary people’ may provide motivation for you within 10 minutes.

The island may not care who they are or why they came. Its currents can wash away resolve. Its winds are known to blow away hope. Heat and humidity – they can be a cruel and unforgiving combination. Yet the island provides strength. It is a mystical place where incredible things happen. Where a movement began and the spirit of Ironman was born. It is in this ocean, among these lava fields and along Ali’i Drive that what began as unimaginable has become so much more.

Swim 2.4 miles; bike 112 miles; run 26.2 miles; brag for the rest of your life.

It began with some words. An idea on the back of a napkin. For thousands, it is now a calling.

“The waves may crash upon us, but we will push through.”

“The winds may howl on race day, but so too will we.”

“The sun will beat down upon us, but we will rise up.”

With the spirit of Aloha, they are unified in their belief that anything is possible.

Music: “Be brave. Go face-to-face. What will become of you? Is everything you need beneath the armour and the rivalry inside, I’ll stare it straight in the eye. I’ll rise up above the fight; up above the fight, cause I believe in making dreams come alive. I’ll put up a fight.”

“Go Ironman! Wooo!”

“Awesome! Fantastic swim!”

“Just a little bit left to go!”

180 km/112 miles: this World Championship bike course can be cruel, especially on the long climb to Hawi, where the heat and potent combination of unforgiving winds test your commitment.

“I’m on my honeymoon, so it’s a great place to be!”

“I ride for a charity called Imerman Angels – we match cancer survivors with somebody who was just diagnosed with cancer.”

“I’m riding to find the limits – I think I’m gonna find them!”

“We’re so fortunate and lucky to be here. You just have to be into it and smile the whole day.”

Music by Pinkzebra: “See the light of a new day dawning. Feel the love from a beating heart. You catch a ride to the top of the world. This is where we start. No, we can’t make it last forever. We got to use all the time we have. And you know that we’ll never say never, if we ever get the chance and it’s good to be alive. It’s good to be alive. This feeling’s running high. Life is calling and the world is beautiful. There’s a winding road we’re choosing. Looking for a brand new day. And up ahead there’s an open door. Now we’ll find our way… and it’s good to be alive. It’s good to be alive. This feeling’s running high, life is calling and the world is beautiful.”

Music: “City of Heroes”

There is just one discipline standing in the way: 26.2 miles/42.2 km. Not all will make it, but all will give it everything they have and that is a victory in itself. As always, this is when it becomes mind over matter.

For those who care to dream, anything is possible. For those still on the course, their finishing time is secondary. It is midnight, 17 hours after their race began, that is now their focus.

“You are an Ironman!”

What sporting event inspires you?

Monday Morning Motivation: Iron to the Core

20 Nov Sebastian Kienle

Decorated long-distance triathlete Sebastian Kienle gives an inside look at what it takes to be an Ironman. From preparation to race day, it’s a life spent enduring gruelling trials, but every small success makes the arduous journey worth it.

Iron to the Core video

IRONMAN World Champion! The man in the focus right now!

SEBASTIAN: My name is Sebastian Kienle. I am the IRONMAN World Champion 2014. I want to have this title back!

NARRATOR: The Ironman World Championship Hawaii. It is the greatest endurance race on planet earth! A 2.4 mile swim in Kona harbor. The bike track, crossing the lava fields. It’s a 26 mile run. No man ever did it in less than eight hours.

SEBASTIAN: You seem to run against this wall of humidity and heat. It’s raining pretty much every day in Kona. Sometimes I guess the drops don’t even reach the ground. They just turn to steam before that. You have this idea of yourself running and kind of flying, you know, and there you are not flying. You’re not flying. In the race you are sometimes crawling. You think you are super fit. You did all those crazy sessions before you go there and then you arrive there and your heart rate is, like, ten beats up at the same pace. Ten, 15 seconds slower per K.

The bike is definitely my strongest discipline and I just love the speed on the bike. It’s amazing how fast humans can go just by their own power. It just seems like the right amount of speed you need to cover a big distance, a big area, but it’s still slow enough to be able to look around and inhale the atmosphere of the place. I guess that’s why a lot of people ride their bikes, right? Even if they are not able to win IRONMAN Hawaii.

I’m a strong biker, I have definitely some talent with biking, but I take progress in biking for a given, you know. It gives you so much when you make this little progress. It’s just very rewarding when you have to work very hard for a very small progress and you finally make this progress.

Swimming is definitely not my strongest discipline and I have to invest a lot of time. Lubos is always with me the whole time. We spend pretty much six weeks there, prior to the race. It definitely takes a lot of trust in each other. Lubos is not only my coach, but he has to be the psychologist and friend and everything in one person.

SEBASTIAN: It’s a pretty intense time there. It has some really, really tough days where you doubt everything. Lubos is pretty good in shifting these roles as a friend and as a coach. He has no mercy when it comes to hard training sessions.

SEBASTIAN: He also knows me well enough to see when it’s too much and that’s very important because at a certain point you lose the feeling of how hard you have to go and how hard is too hard. So, you need somebody that is able to realize what the limit is and we are working at the limit there. I have 100% trust in him and that’s very important. In the early morning, before the race, we have our routines. My coach Lubos, Christine and me, we are a great small team. Of course a lot of focus is always on the guy that wears the number one.

ANNOUNCER: Race day at the 2015 IRONMAN World Championships in Kona, Hawaii! This is the dawn we’ve been waiting for.

SEBASTIAN: You work so long and so hard and now you have to show the world what you have got.

ANNOUNCER: The battle between reigning champ, Sebastian Kienle, and fellow countryman, Jan Frodeno!

SEBASTIAN: The iron war, that was what everybody was hoping for.

ANNOUNCER: And off they go!

SEBASTIAN: My swim was absolutely great, coming out just a little bit under two minutes behind the leaders. That was what we were dreaming of.

ANNOUNCER: Sebastian Kienle, on his bike now!

SEBASTIAN: I was so excited after this great swim. It just set this positive mindset at the beginning of the race, which is absolutely important. That could make or break your race! I was really aggressive at the start of the bike. I wanted to close the gap as fast as possible!

ANNOUNCER: Kienle is flying through the field!
SEBASTIAN: You could definitely break the other guys on the bike, dominate the race, dictate the others your race.

ANNOUNCER: Kienle passes Frodeno, he leads the field!

SEBASTIAN: If it’s hurting me, it’s killing them.

ANNOUNCER: Such an intense race!

SEBASTIAN: Usually that’s the way it is on the bike! Not this time. I probably killed myself this time.

Sebastian Kienle

Yeah. And I was trying and I was attacking and I was prepared for the fight against him. The iron war. That’s what I was trying. It was this small doubt at the end… especially at the end of the bike. It started to get bigger and bigger. There already I realized that I probably don’t have the day I need to beat a guy like Jan. When your body is weak, you can’t fight against these negative thoughts any more and then it’s game over. Every step is just pure pain and it’s so difficult not to quit. When you have the goal of winning the race and you start to realize that this is probably not going to happen, then it’s very difficult to find reasons why you should keep going. But yeah, I am absolutely happy that I finished the race, because I know the relief only stays there for a couple of minutes and then it’s the worst thing in life for the next month.

ANNOUNCER: Kienle crosses the finish line, 8th place for the German. One hell of a day for last year’s champion!

SEBASTIAN: For me often it’s better to have this sensation of losing. It motivates me way more than the sensation of winning.

So, I try to keep that as a positive thing from the race and that I was still able to finish the race. Even when I didn’t win a race, and I’m a professional, so I have to win races, I have the feeling of… I’ve done it, you know? I succeeded, I crossed the line, I finished the race. And that already gives you the sensation of a great achievement and that’s what separates this sport from a lot of other sports.

Sebastian Kienle

Fuerteventura, Las Playitas. This is probably my third home. I guess it’s definitely one of the best places for me for training. Where I put in all the base miles you need to get into race shape later in the year.

Even if triathlon might be a very self-centered sport and you have to race for yourself, training in a group is always way better. You have to use the sort of competition you have in a race, also push yourself in hard training sessions. I like to surround myself not only with good athletes, but also good people, of course. It’s great to call most of them friends. Those are the guys that push me to the limit.

ANNOUNCER: The IRONMAN European Championships! The biggest race in Europe.

SEBASTIAN: The whole race was just a rush. Messed up the swim and came back on the bike. I wanted the victory so badly.

ANNOUNCER: Sebastian Kienle makes it! He wins the race! A true IRONMAN!

SEBASTIAN: The pain is over, there’s like an explosion in your head. It’s pretty emotional. (CHUCKLES) Yeah.
Lubos and I, we are on track. The goal is Ironman Hawaii. It’s this spark that starts the fire, you know, this positive thought that gets bigger and bigger and it’s getting better and better. You start to do things you are… you don’t think you are capable of. That’s where the greatness happens. I hope for greatness this year.

In 2016, Kienle came 2nd behind Jan Frodeno and in 2017, Kienle came 4th. Maybe 2018 will be his year again.

Thank you to everyone who’s voted for Fat Girl to Ironman so far – there’s still time to cast your vote in The 2018 Running Awards.

Nominated for The 2018 Running Awards. Please vote for me.

Monday Morning Motivation – Anything is possible

23 Jan

To accomplish something extraordinary, one must have an extraordinary dream. A goal so high, a journey so demanding, that its achievement to most seems impossible.

For 35 years, Ironman has defined a sport, growing from a single race into a global movement and a new generation of athletes.

25 countries with over 200 events, Ironman inspires us to reimagine our limits, to set our sights higher, to go farther than we ever have before.

Ironman is a statement of excellence, passion, commitment.

It is a test of physical toughness and mental strength.

Ironman is about persevering, enduring and being a part of something larger than ourselves.

It shows the heights that can be achieved when we push beyond our boundaries and go the distance to earn the title ‘Ironman’.

Monday Morning Motivation – Ironman Objective

12 Dec

Do you have two minutes to spare? This inspirational triathlon training video with Christophe Suquet is a great way to start your week.





Ironman Objective.

If you’d like to learn more about Christophe (and can speak French), you can follow his blog: http://christophesuquet.over-blog.com


Planning for 2017 and SUTRI aquathlon

7 Oct

After feeling too tired to run on Monday, I arranged to meet my running buddy on Tuesday… but fate conspired against me and I didn’t make it, so I was pleased when Teri said that she could run on Wednesday.

I drove over to The Common and did a gentle warm up whilst waiting for Teri. Annoyingly, my Garmin 910XT is terminally ill and the buttons have become unresponsive, so none of my warm up was captured 😦

It’s been a while since Teri and I have been able to go out for a social run, so I really appreciated it. I hope it wasn’t too bad for her as she listened to me talk non-stop for almost 40 minutes, whereas I was not a good listener (sorry, Teri!)

It would have been possible for us to stay entirely on the flat, but after we’d done the first part of our run, I thought we might as well tackle the hill – at least I knew there’d be a downhill afterwards.

Teri had brought Lulu (her dog) with her, which meant that we had a couple of little breaks. However, I’m not used to running with a dog, so I would pause every now and again whilst Lulu stopped to sniff something as I was worried that we would somehow lose her. Luckily, she is a well-behaved dog, so she always came running after us.

By the time we got back to my car, my Garmin was saying that I had done 5.8km. I was a little tempted to jog up and down to make it say 6km, but I know I had run at least 200m before my Garmin started, and I needed to get home.

In the evening, we met a group of friends from Tri Club at a local pub. Everyone who came along is considering doing an Ironman or a half in 2017… and there were quite a few others who are interested, but were unable to attend. A large group of STC people have entered Ironman Austria, which sounds lovely, but I think the logistics of travelling overseas with a young baby might be too much for me. Fortunately, Ironman Weymouth is unlikely to sell out, so I can make a decision much closer to the date about whether it’s a realistic goal. It’s not too difficult to find accommodation, plenty of my friends would be able to come and support and if I’m not ready for a full Ironman, there is a half taking place simultaneously. [Unfortunately, I’ve now heard that Ironman haven’t yet confirmed that there will be an event in Weymouth next year, so fingers crossed!]

Yesterday evening, I marshalled at an event for my other Tri Club – SUTRI. An aquathlon had been organised at the local lake for Freshers. It consisted of a 300m swim and a 2.5k run. I’d have loved to have taken part, but I’m not sure that my wetsuit would fit me, and I was afraid that the water would be too cold. (I was right to think that as it was a chilly 13C/55F – brrrr!)

Canada Geese 1 Canada Geese 2

Stu and I arrived at 5:30pm, but there weren’t many people around. During the day, quite a few people had dropped out. The main group was travelling by public Uni-Link bus. Unfortunately, they were travelling at rush hour and as it is the start of the academic year, the first bus that arrived was full, so they had to wait for another bus.The HOWL gazebo

Eventually, it was agreed that there would be two waves for the event – the people who were ready at the lake and a second wave for the people who were stuck on the bus. This was mainly because the light was going and a long section of the run route is tree-lined, so it’s quite dark even on a sunny day.

I was marshalling at the first main turn. I took a camping chair with me as I wasn’t sure how long I would have to stand for and I get faint if I stand still for too long. The chair turned out to be unnecessary for two reasons: firstly, I was right by some picnic tables and secondly, it wasn’t long before the athletes came past.

I was sitting down when I saw the first runner, so I jumped up and got into position. It was only as the runner got very close that I realised it was Stu. I’ve not seen him wear the lovely tri top that he got at Ironman Copenhagen before. He was looking strong and relaxed… but I was too flustered to take a photo – oops!


When the tail runner came past, I asked him whether the late arrivals were going to be allowed to run, but he didn’t know, so I figured that I had better wait and see.

Fortunately, it wasn’t too long before I saw a girl in a trisuit coming in my direction, shortly followed by some lads. At the back of the pack, Stu was doing another lap as tail runner.

I picked up some route signs and cones and headed back to the start, arriving just as the final finisher came in.

A quick look at the results confirmed that Stu had won the event in 15:49. He had hoped to be quicker, but I think it’s harder to push yourself when there are no athletes around you (the faster people were mainly in the second wave). He also had a problem in transition as the zip on his wetsuit broke, so it took him quite a long time to get it off. (If anyone can give any recommendations for a man’s wetsuit, I’ll pass them on to Stu. He’s a strong swimmer [58 mins at Ironman Copenhagen – 3.8k]. He’s about 5’8″/173cm tall and weighs about 135lbs/9st9lb/60kg. He currently wears a 19 Rogue).

After the aquathlon, we stopped for a little while to talk to people from SUTRI and other friends who were arriving for a ‘Glow in the dark’ swim. It looked like a lot of fun, but was also a reminder that it’s the end of the open water swimming season here. I hope that by the time May comes around, I can get back into my wetsuit and will be able to join in the fun again.

Collage from SUTRI aquathlon


Monday Morning Motivation – The Iron Nun

12 Sep

Feeling old this morning? Watch this and feel inspired!

If you’d like to learn more, you can watch a ‘behind the scenes’ video – ‘I realised the only failure is not to try’:

If you have half an hour to spare, then you could watch a longer video:

Which older people inspire you?

What are your goals and dreams?

29 Dec

I think the name of my blog clearly explains my goal:

Fat Girl to Ironman

I am planning to complete an iron distance triathlon… and am still hoping to lose a few more pounds along the way.


I also have many dreams – they’re not quite goals yet as I haven’t planned how I am going to achieve them.

  • I want to continue to inspire other people to lead fit and healthy lives.
  • I want to remain part of the SOAS Team as it’s an empowering group of women (and the tagline ‘Fashion. Fit. Function.’ is a really accurate description as they’re gorgeous, cut to fit real women and really comfortable).
  • I want to improve my bike skills and cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats.
  • I’d love to travel the world with my wonderful husband

What are your goals and dreams?

Ironman Weymouth 70.3 – my A race for 2016

9 Nov

Woo hoo! I’ve now entered my final A race for 2016 (with the other two being Southampton Half Marathon in April and Long Course Weekend in July).

However, this wasn’t because I’d been repeatedly nagged to enter more Ironman events by Ironman:

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 12.45.37

There are a lot of other events that I’d like to try in 2016, but as usual, I need to try to be at least a bit restrained and not enter everything!!!

I’m really excited about doing Ironman Weymouth 70.3 for several reasons:

  • I loved doing Weymouth Half as my firs half iron distance race in 2014
  • It’s not too far from where I live
  • It has great crowd support
  • I’m hoping it will be good preparation for doing Ironman Weymouth in 2016

Have you planned your A races for next season yet? What do you want to enter and why?

Monday Morning Motivation: Iron Cowboy

14 Sep

James Lawrence is a double world record holder – in 2011 he completed the most half iron distance races in a year and in 2012 he completed 30 iron distance races – but he decided that wasn’t enough, so in June this year he set off on a journey to complete 50 full Ironman distances in 50 days in 50 states. His journey ended in July, but it’s an unofficial record as he didn’t race on official courses. Why did he do this then, if not to set a record?

“My goal is simply to inspire others to challenge themselves and to be more active.
Together with the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation we can all be part of the movement to fight obesity.”
– James Lawrence

Lawrence ran to raise awareness and funds for a non-profit that combats childhood obesity. At the end of every running portion of his Ironmans, he invited supporters from around the U.S. to join him and run the final 5K of the race with him.

This video reflects on Lawrence’s 30 iron distance races (not his recent 50 triathlons), but it’s still inspirational.