Unleash your IronMan

By Nicky Holland, Fitness Manager, Fitness First Uptown Mirdif

For me, the IronMan epitomises overall fitness and I believe it is one of the toughest sporting events out there. To compete in a triathlon you need a high level of fitness and a good amount of muscular endurance. Not only does it challenge you physically but mentally as well, which, when you cross that finish line, will give you a great sense of accomplishment and self achievement.

In this article, I will discuss how you can train for this type of event with the aim to inspire more people to take part in the IronMan 70.3 Dubai along with 165 fitness first staff members.

Discipline: Swimming Distance: 1.9KM

First up is the swim. This is my weakest discipline so one I need to focus on it the most. Start by doing interval training in a pool. This will gradually improve your fitness and help condition you for the open water. Technique and breathing is imperative because if one is messed up you will exert more energy and you  need this energy for the next two disciplines.

Beginners – Start by completing 2 lengths with 1 min rest and repeat for 10 sets. Build this up to 3 then 4 lengths.

Intermediate – Incorporate kicking with a float to work on leg efficiency. Try to swim continuously for 5-10 lengths with a 1 min rest until you can do 10 lengths with no rest then practice for time in the open water.

Expert – Whilst maintaining good breathing and technique, try to increase the time and distance you swim. Before the ‘IronMan’ you should be reaching 1500m which is usually 60 lengths in the pool. The full distance would equate to 76 lengths. You should now be comfortable in open water.

Discipline: Cycling  Distance: 90KM

Next up is the cycling. The key here is to pace yourself and get into a good rhythm. The best way to practice this is to buy a bike.

Beginners – Start cycling in the gym, working at a continuous pace and aim to complete 5-10km to build fitness.

Intermediate – Take your training outside. It will allow you to work on the push and pull pedal motion. Al Qudra track is a great location to ride and will be a part of the course on raceday. Try to complete 30-50km whilst acclimatising to the heat.

Expert –  Similar to the swimming, technique and breathing should remain the same but the distance should increase to 70-90km. Group cycling is a good motivation, especially when competing over a long distance.

Discipline: Running Distance: 21KM

The final discipline is the run. This is my favourite discipline for two reasons i) I like running. ii) the end is in sight. Fatigue will start to kick in due to lactic acid build up, so the legs will be tired and heavy. This will affect your technique so breathing is the key.

Beginners – Try to run for a continuous pace without stopping for 10 minutes. You can walk or slow jog but don’t stop.

Intermediate – Gradually increase the time to 20-30 minutes and monitor the distance. Training outside at Jumeirah Beach Running Track is good as it has markings to record your distance. You can aim for a 10km or do the full track there and back which is just under 14km.

Expert – Build up the distance so you can run 15-20km outside with controlled breathing. Try to do swimming and cycling before, too, so you condition your body to get used to the lactic acid and how to deal with it.

Remember, when training for an outdoor event like this you need to prepare your mind and body by training outdoors so that you become used to the surroundings. That way the day of the race becomes another day of practice – with ten times more nervous pressure, excitement and atmosphere. 

Throughout your training, remain hydrated and eat well. Push yourself but also give your body days off to recover and rest. 

Finally, ask yourself one question; Do you want to be part of the small percentage who can say they have completed in an ‘IronMan?’
I do – See you on January 27 at IronMan 70.3 Dubai.