As I was thinking about my 20+ years of triathlon training and racing during my run today, I thought about all the fun times, not so fun times (IMTX ’16), and successful times. I have learned a lot over the years. I have come up with some “Life Lessons of an Ironman Triathlete.”

I started thinking: Triathletes don’t tell you EVERYTHING that they know. I started going over in my head, ”What secrets do I have as a triathlete? How would this help other triathletes?” I came up with:

Top 5 Secrets Triathletes Don’t Tell You:

  1. Draft off Other Swimmers in the Swim Portion  
  • This is legal. Take advantage of it.
  • Place yourself in a group of swimmers that are similar to you. You cannot draft off a Michael Phelps-like swimmer if you don’t swim that fast. You will be done in the first 100 meters.
  • Best Position: Draft between the ankle and hips. Think of how dolphins will ride the bow of the boat. You essentially are doing the same thing.
  1. Learn to Pee on your Bike
  • Yes, I said it. Learn how to pee on your bike, especially during an Ironman Triathlon.
  • How? I will grab an extra water from the aid station, move to the side, slow down a bit, relax the lower half and “release.” During the “release,” I will pour the extra water over my shorts to “clean” myself. Off I go.
  • Why? Have you seen the lines during an Ironman race for the bathroom? That is time that you lost standing in line!
  • Click HERE for a SlowTwitch article about it!
  1. If you have G.I. distress on your runs during a race and training, figure out WHY!
  • Start eliminating foods. Breads. Grains. Fruits. Alcohol. Sugar. Etc.
  • Check out a Low Residue Diet for at least 2 days before a long run or race. My coach suggested I pull back on fiber. That has helped me tremendously. Everything that I was eating had fiber! Try it before training days, versus a race day.
  • IF, ONLY IF: Take an Imodium AD. I will NOT take this during training. I remember a women at a 10k running race told me she took 7 Imodium A.D.’s. At that point, you need to look at your diet!
  • Click HERE for this Runner’s World article.
  1. Hard intervals hurt for anyone!
  • Yes, intervals suck for everyone. While my bike TT power meter pace isn’t as “high” as my husband’s, it still freaking hurt.
  • This is based on what YOU can do, not what Chrissie Willington can do or what your training buddy can do.
  • Remember, your intervals are based on your work. This is why heading out on rides or runs by yourself, especially if you have interval work, is best for you and you alone!
  • Great article from Joel Friel.
  1. In an Ironman, start drinking Coke as soon as you can.
  • Flat Coke. It is delish after 8 hours of your other nutrition. I don’t know if it is the caffeine or the sugar, but it is sweet nectar!
  • I have heard to start drinking it after the 2nd half of your marathon in an Ironman. My husband, Chris, will drink it ASAP.
  • I know it can bother people’s stomachs, so I would suggest to TRY IT first in a practice run. Go buy a Coke, open it up at home to make it flat, and after 2:30 hours, come back to it and sip on it every mile. See how that works.
  • Click here for a SlowTwitch forum thread that can be interesting for some.

I hope that helps you for heading into YOUR Triathlon season, whether this is your 1st Sprint triathlon, 1st Ironman Triathlon, or your 10th Ironman Triathlon.

Do you have any “secrets” that you would like to share with other triathletes? Make a comment below!

AUTHOR: Jen Rulon

I am Jen Rulon, a Coach, Kona Finisher and a Public Speaker. I’ve been coaching triathletes for 18+ years and I received my Masters in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Exercise Science. I train triathletes to reach their potential and coach triathlon coaches to successfully grow their businesses using my own proven methods. I currently work with women on finding their own voice and journey to finding their "Champion Status" in their own eyes! My knowledge has been featured in Triathlete Magazine, Runners World, on the TEDx Stage, the Health and Wellness Expo in San Antonio, TX, Men’s Journal Online, and the New York Times. I also practice what I preach — I’m a 15x Ironman Triathlete who participated in the World Championship in Kona, Hawaii on October 14, 2017.

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