Find a place to stay. Well genius there's at least 2000 other geniuses who signed up and guess what? Each is going to bring at least one disgruntled friend/family member to cart their carcass' back home afterwards. You HAVE to book your hotel room, camp site, parking spot NOW! Oh, you're going to book a house three towns away? Wow, you're the very first one who's ever thought of that - yup those stay open until the day before the race.
Create a free time calendar. Gather the hubby, Mrs, kids, the boss, and everyone else you've dragged into your freakish sports nightmare and identify what your "free" times are. DON'T start looking for Training Calendars. Sure Dt has one online and ready for you but you are not ready for it. First look at what are your "free" times are:
- Organic Free Time: Actual free time that already exists and training you already participate in such as Dt's Saturday morning sessions.
- Made Free Time: These are blocks of time that with a little effort can be made available. Examples of this are your book club meeting, the Sunday Football get together, the Friday night drinking with the boys/girls, Sunday morning sleeping in. Hint: if your significant other is smiling without blinking their eyes when you mention a time it is not a free time.
- Invested Free Time or what we'd like to call "evidence for your mates divorce lawyer". These are blocks of time your family and friends are investing in you by taking over a chore, work, relationship time, raising kids, helping mankind, and thereby allowing you time to train. I'll give you a heads up that about 25% minimum will come from here. When they hand you the finishers medal ask for one for them.
How much "free" time should you be looking for? You will have not enough unless you quit your job. No, don't look at the training calendar - that will only confirm what I just said. Any good book or article on Ironman will say the same thing. Don't whimper.
Get. A. Coach. This is not about the race but the experience of training you're going to go through. Sure it's called, "The hardest single day in sports." But it's the training that's mind boggling and partly it's because there are so many aspects to it ranging from phased training to injury prevention to nutrition to bike mechanics that you really do need expertise to get you there. Absolutely, pick up a book or two, there are a few good ones (try Velopress) but in Chapter two they'll say the same thing: get an experienced 140.6 Coach. Luckily for you Dt has two experienced 140.6 coaches who have gotten athletes through Ironman Florida, Madison, Lake Placid, and Coeur d'Alene. And each has their own style and both are experienced Ironman. Coach Jean and Coach Vic can give you the personalized planning and training as well as key you focused. On Dt Coach Jean is our 140.6 expert because of her comprehensive wellness and engaging approach that makes training a joy and I recommend you contact her immediately. Coach Vic has a slightly different approach. Get a coach you putz.
Inspiration Log - Let's take a moment to get touchy-feely. You're going to have a training log and I'll have more to see about that in a second. In that log (be it leather bound book or Beginnertriathlete.com or Strava, etc.) find a place to list why you're doing this thing and share it with the people investing time in you. It's really for you because there are going to be days when its 25 degrees and there is ice on the ground and you have to get a ride in. And as you'll learn a 140.6 training plan doesn't have a whole lot of room for you to start skipping and making up workouts. You need to remind yourself, "why?" Whatever your reasons are there will come days when it may not be enough and your support squad will have to call you on it and get you outside. List all the reasons: personal and otherwise.
Support Squad - List all the people who are your support squad. Start by listing the people who'll make sure you get out there. Next, list your teammates (NOW would be a good time to join a triathlon team/club.) List at least two coaches who you can go to and ask honest questions. List WHO will be going to the race (see HOTEL above.) List people who'll go for a particular workout and are hardcore: we all have those friends who seem to be training for a 140.6 but actually aren't signed up for a race. List emergency baby sitters, the name of your bike mechanic, the clerk at the liquor store (laugh now), and anyone else that will be supporting you. Put them all on one list and in your training log.
Training Log - Start it now. Whether you like electronic or a good old notebook it's up to you and let me save you some aggravation: it's not for the charts and graphs. You're going to be focused on getting the workouts in not whether your Lactate Threshold was reached on workout #462. I do recommend you keep a paper journal of some form so you can only look back on it and recall that yes you are capable of breath-tackingly stupid things.
- In your log at minimum for each workout: Date, Time, Type of Workout, Workout profile, Weather, How you felt, distance, time, and when appropriate average power and/or pace/speed. It'll give you something for you and your coach to discuss.
Equipment: If you're going to get anything new DO IT NOW. Once your'e 26 weeks from the race it's a really REALLY bad time to start trying new things. You can't be focusing on a 90 mile hill ride and figuring out how your new Garmin Fenix works. Here's how it works:
- Your watch: unless they invent one that can do the race for you get the model you're familiar with NOW. That will be your race watch. Do you need something that costs $400 and up - nope. But having something that can measure your swim then bike ride then the run can help ease your mind and may provide the only entertainment on the course for you. Battery life. trust me: once you're off the bike at the race you're going to only care about about what the race clocks on the course say.
- Bike: If you have a good road bike and by that we mean from a major bike manufacture that has carried you hundreds of miles over a few years then there's no reason why you can't keep using it. Just make sure to have it fitted with aerobars and refitted for you so you're comfortable. If you're in the market for a tri bike then have at it but do it this autumn as this is the best time for sales and...you need time to learn how to ride it. Tri bikes and road bikes are two different animals. Learn to change tires and tubes now. NOW. You and your bike are going to have the most meaningful relationship of your next 365 days.
- Wetsuit - whatever you have now is fine. If you're happy with it then that's your race suit. Nah, Coach is not going to back you up on this when you ask the Mrs. for $$ for a new $600 Xterra Suit.
- Running Shoes - You'l be going through a few pair with maybe your third pair being your race shoes. Get three of the same model now. Shoe companies love screwing around with new materials and designs and the next iteration may not work for you.
- Fuel and Hydration Equipment - however you're going to feed yourself figure it out now. First, you're going to have to mount the thing on your bike and you and you're going to have to get used to it. And second during training you'll be more concerned with what you're putting into the bottle-belt-bike nozzle-thingie you get than whether it's spraying Gatorade all over your face.
identify and Verify Your Off-season Training Options - Instead of properly planning to live in San Diego you messed up and live in New England: already making mistakes. Now is the time to identify your swimming, cycling, and running options. We're fortunate to have some indoors and outdoor methods to train:
- Bicycle Trainer: If you're going to get a trainer get one now and park it where you think it'll be used most. Usually it winds up in front of whatever will have Netflix on it which is now just about everything. A word of caution here: trainer training is great but just like running on a treadmill isn't running...
- Indoor Cycling Boutiques and Gyms: Yes, we're in the age of cycling boutiques and we highly recommend it. There's nothing like injecting a fun new environment into your training. Do see the reminder about how this may not replace your 56 miler on February 14th. Or as one Spin Class Instructor once said as she finished the bike course at Timberman, "Wholly Fuck that's so different from the boutique." But going all cardio at HRM 4 to Gloria Gaynor's, "I will Survive" and then having a watermelon tonic is better than having the #9 Bus almost run you into the snow pile.
- Your Pool - membership up to date? Do you have a pool available? Now, now, now. Dt will be getting back into the water in May as the ice thaws.
- Treadmill - Find yourself the local Boston Marathon training group and infiltrate it now. Yes, you can train on a treadmill but why when everyone is outside and doing 18 and 20 milers. Of all the things we recommend you not option off to the indoors it is running.