Lessons from Camp

While at Ironman Lake Placid training camp this past weekend I learned A LOT about what it takes to train for and finish an Ironman. For those who are not familiar with Ironman, it’s a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 mile run that must all be completed under 17:00 hours. It’s no small feat. It takes a lot of training and heart for the better part of a year to complete an Ironman. Most “normal” people think your crazy. See video below:

Here are a few of the lessons that I have learned. I should warn you that one of them may or may not be gross.

1. 100+ mile rides on the bike is not for the weak crotch. My previous longest ride ever was 70 miles with lots of stopping on my road bike. This past weekend I rode 101 miles of Friday and then another 40 on Saturday. My crotch was NOT happy with me. I’m not one to use Chamois Butter or HooHa Ride Glide, although I know women who swear by the stuff. Secretly, I think they all get off on the tingling sensation. Not my style. Of course, being triathletes discussing such things as a sore crotch at dinner was normal. I think we all concluded that women have it worse than men. My advice, make sure you invest in a good saddle and a quality pair of bike shorts and spend some quality bonding time on that saddle. Who said becoming an Ironman was easy and pain free? If it was then we would all be Ironmen. See this wonderful post from The Mediocre Athlete about her crotch problems while training for an Ironman!

2. Training for an Ironman is a year long process. It’s not something that you can get out of bed one day and decide I’m going to do an Ironman in 5 months. Well, you can, but it won’t be pretty! While at camp I remember hearing Kurt saying something along the lines as 80% of people out on course during IMLP will either be undertrained or overtrained with injuries. The remaining 20% will be in good shape (probably because they work with a coach and listen to their bodies!). I found this article by Lindsay Hyman a Pro Triathlon coach for Carmichael Training Systems very interesting and very similar to my beliefs on training. Last fall I was asked by a couple people if I wanted to do the REV3 Cedar Point Full (140.6) race this coming September. Of course, I wanted too. And I wanted too badly. But, I knew my body wasn’t ready. I know I could have completed the distance, but I actually want to be competitive when I do an Ironman. I know I won’t win my age group or anything, but I would like to at least place in the top half of age group. I also knew that I need to get another year of base training under my belt to ensure my body was ready for the time and work committment that it takes to train for an Ironman. It was one of the main reasons I choice to hire a coach for this race season. I wanted to improve and build a strong base for the future and my coach has guided me in doing just that. It was the best decision I have made thus far in my triathlon “career.” I look at my Ironman training as a two-year plan. I’m currently working on building my endurance and strength for next year when I will actually do the Ironman race. Most people only focus on their short-term goals, but it’s really the long-term goals that matter.

3. Lighter is better. I hate to say it, but IMLP is a course that you want to be lighter. If you have a few extra pounds then you may want to consider a flatter course such as Florida or Arizona. I’m not saying that if your heavy that you can’t do IMLP, but it is a tough and hilly course.

IMLP Bike Course has close to 5000 feet of climbing over the course of 112 miles

Of course, being triathletes we did a lot of talking about body composition and race weight. Kurt mentioned at one point that for about every pound of weight you drop you can gain 3 seconds per mile during the run. According to Runner’s World, a five pound weight loss can lead to two-minutes off your half-marathon time. That’s free time! Also, less weight can reduce injury and improve your biomechanics. I’m 20 pounds lighter than I was last year and I definitely notice the difference in my running and cycling. I definitely hope to be a little lighter for IMLP next year too.

4. Recover is key! I’ve always known this, but it was definitely reinforced at camp. After workouts everyone was either taking an ice bath and/or wearing some sort of compression tights/sleeves/socks. There is some research and people out there who don’t think that compression wear works, but I believe they do. Perhaps it’s the placebo effect, but I like my various compression tights, sleeves, and socks. Remember, recovery and rest is the time when your body adapts and repairs itself from workouts. It’s not the workouts that make you stronger, it’s the recovery time! Train hard and recovery harder!

~ Happy Training! 
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2 thoughts on “Lessons from Camp

  1. All well-stated, Katelyn! Weight is one of those tricky things… you want to encourage athletes to be at "race weight" but at the same time, it's so easy to become obsessed with a number–and women esp. can shift into eating disorder mode so fast. Because many triathletes are Type A + , this can be a tricky road to navigate for a coach. Also, I know one problem I have is that if I get too light I begin to lose critical muscle mass needed to finish an IM. So lighter is better–but only to a degree. I read an article that discussed the ideal BMI for women doing tri to be around 20 or 21. For pure runners, that may be closer to 18-19.. but a woman triathlete, going that low means you don't have the muscular stamina to excel during the race.

  2. Great post Katelyn. I loved our crotch discussions at dinner. I have seen this video on FB and had replay to my spouse. She loved it. Thanks for posting.

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