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10 Things to Consider Before Signing Up for an Ironman Race

Updated: May 28, 2019

male triathlete, triathlon swim, ironman swim, ironman training

You are excited! You have made the decision to sign up for Ironman. It is one click away...just one easy click. But, before you hit “ACCEPT," read through the following list for a few final thoughts. Not all of these have to be completed before you hit the enter button, but it is a short list of things to keep in mind. 

#1: Get your family’s blessing.

In my opinion, the most critical piece of training is having your significant other or family on board. If they are not one of your biggest supporters, this is going to be an even more stressful adventure, and potentially less fun in the thick of training.

#2: Hire a coach.

However, don’t hire 3 coaches to write your training plan. Yes, there are many options for training programs on-line, but they are going to be “canned programs." If your schedule is completely flexible, you aren’t planning on any travel, you never get sick and don’t ever get injured, this is a viable option, but the reality is, not everything is perfect and when it isn’t, who will you talk to regarding “changing the program?" Another advantage to a coach includes being able to talk to them about hydration/nutrition throughout the training and racing experience. How about accountability?  What happens when you have a bad week, or just don’t feel like training? A coach will hold you accountable and help you work through those times. If you are left on your own, a good question to ask yourself is "will/can I stay accountable to myself, or do I need support?"

#3: The money you spend on registration is just the start. 

Yes, it is a big gulp to begin with, but be realistic, it is just a drop in the bucket.  Depending on which venue you are signing up for, there will be travel expenses and hotel fees.  You will also need gear, nutrition, tubes, bike maintenance, there will be massages, chiropractic appointments and, did I mention nutrition?   Not to mention, when the training load increases…you are going to eat even more food to keep you going!


#4: Find a good chiropractor and massage therapist.

You will spend many hours training and abusing your body, so do yourself a favor and play nice. Give your body a rest, thank it for all the hard work it is doing, and treat it to a massage. Depending on where you are in your training cycle, these are highly recommended - the more training you are doing, the more frequent the body work. If you're in the MN area we suggest Barr Chiropractic or Nova Care Rehabilitation!

#5: Embrace the importance of strength training.

It isn’t all about swimming, biking and running. There will be plenty of that, but research has shown that strength training improves performance and reduces the chance of injury while training. If you don’t know what to do, hire a trainer experienced in the sport of triathlon to help develop a program, because you can't train or participate in triathlon with injury!

#6: Know how to fix a flat.

If you don’t know now, don’t worry, but make sure you know how and are proficient at it before the big day. After 11 months of training, you don’t want a flat to ruin your day. It's a lot easier than you think, and if you need help, we have Fix A Flat seminars in our Beginner Triathlete program to help you.

#7: Know some basic bike maintenance.

This could save you a bunch of money. After all, why pay a bike mechanic to do things that are easily done at home with very few tools or space? Additionally, your bike training and events are only possible with a reliable, well-kept bike. Need help? Look for our next Bike Maintenance seminar.

#8: Get to know your diet.

Remember, there are other pieces to long distance training that must be figured out - particularly, hydration and nutrition. These are things that, as a coach, I spend many hours working on and figuring out with each athlete. There is not a “1 size fits all” for every athlete when it comes to nutrition. You are all different ages, sizes and shapes, and each athlete requires a different plan. How you fuel your body will determine how well you can train and perform for your event.

#9: Join a triathlon team/club.

Joining a community of athletes that you can lean on and learn from is a huge benefit. There will be others that have completed this distance before, and will have personal experiences to share. If you're looking for place to start, check out our Tri Club option.

#10: It is going to get rough.

The training gets long - you are bound to get tired and cranky at some point. You will have long days, and it will rain on some of those long days. Regardless, at the end of all of it, it will be worth every moment of training and those “less fun moments” will only make you stronger. It is going to get rough, but we repeat, it will be worth it!

Everyone needs a bit of help before you can rock your 140.6. Did you read that? Everyone. So join some others! Training with others will motivate you to go beyond your limits and keep pushing during those mornings that you really just want to curl up with your dogs.

The last piece of advice we have is to get as comfortable with your upcoming race as you can. That means efficient training, getting your nutrition correct, and familiarizing yourself with your course. And if you need any help, the coaches at Tri Fitness WBL are always here to help.

Author: Coach Vicki Ostendorf

To connect with Vicki, email her at

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