So You’re Going To Do A Half Iron?

I’ve noticed an uptick in the number of Facebook friends who have posted they are registered for the Ironman 70.3 Ohio.  How exciting is it to see the almost instant growth of our multi-sport community!  With this opportunity comes a responsibility of the veteran athletes and coaches in the community to make sure they are on their game to enhance the experience for everyone involved.  The best advice I can give to those attempting their first 70.3 is this: find out who knows what you do not, listen, and be willing to learn.  If you are a newer athlete then the tips below are for you. If you are a veteran athlete or coach, be ready to help newer athletes with answers to questions regarding the following:

What Your Responsibility is as an Athlete

Just by signing up you’ve already committed to a journey that will surely change SOMETHING about your life. While I hope it is a positive change there is one thing you are surely going to learn if you don’t know it already.  You will learn that triathlon is about YOU. No one else. Sure you can train in a team atmosphere but when you hit that starting line you better be damn sure you know what you are doing. Below is a list of things you are going to need and things that you’re going to want to know as you start this journey:

  • You’ll need the correct equipment.
    • This includes things like a bike (preferably road or time trial), heart rate monitor, running shoes, swim equipment, proper nutrition and hydration products. You will need a membership to a pool or gym that has a pool. You’ll need a lot of other things…and it will add up quickly if you are new to the sport.  Craigslist and the Central Ohio Triathlon Club‘s listserve are two good ways to look for used equipment.
  • You’ll need time. 
    • Approximately 12-15 hours a week is what an average Half Ironman plan might consist of. It might be higher some weeks and it might be lower other weeks. If you are a slower cyclist plan on having more hours of training as you’ll need that extra time to travel the same distance.  Can you train on 1 hour a day 6 days a week? In my professional opinion…no. You might be able to finish but it ain’t going to feel good or look good.
  • You will need to know how to manage and maintain your equipment:
    • On your bike: know how to change a flat, adjust your brakes, shift gears both front and rear chain ring and WHEN to shift, know how to clip in and out of your pedals, know how to properly put on your helmet and yes there are people that put helmets on backwards, know when you need a flashing red light. Learn how to inspect your bike for possible signs of issues (how do you inspect tires to see if they are worn down? Does your chain need changing? Are the bolts tightened correctly?)
  • You will need to know how to control yourself and your equipment in a variety of situations
    • In the pool: learn the etiquette at your local pool. Does your pool allow splitting of lanes or must you circle swim?
    • On the road: know the rules of the road on your bike. Don’t be a squirrely rider weaving in and out of the lane. Be as predictable as possible.
    • On the trails: be aware of your surroundings. Don’t run more than 2 abreast and if you do be aware of possible cyclists, other joggers, pets, etc. If you wear earbuds be sure to be aware people may be screaming ‘on your left’ or ‘passing’ and you may not hear them.
  • You’ll want to find the type of guidance that works for you
    • If you are self-coached find a resource online or book that you find helpful and utilize it to compare your training to what the ‘experts’ say. There are a lot of professionals around town who can help with specific sport needs if you’re having trouble with one specific area.
    • If you are looking for a coach be sure to interview and investigate more than one. It will allow you to network with a variety of triathlon minded people and it will also help you distinguish what personality or team setting you may thrive in.
    • If you aren’t sure what to do start by either asking a veteran athlete or going direct to a coach. I get many emails from newbies looking for some simple guidance on just where to start. I personally don’t charge for these short one off emails because I want athletes to get into this sport and love it! It never hurts to ask for help or guidance just be sure to be a conscious consumer.
  • Your behavior reflects upon us all
    • Please be kind and respectful to others when you are training. There is no point in flipping the bird to the truck that cuts you off on your bike. It does nothing positive for our relationship with drivers. Take the high road.