Three Simple Lessons Learned From Ironman Chattanooga 2014

Three Simple Lessons Learned From Ironman Chattanooga 2014

Three simple lessons are all I am capable of writing about at this point but there were far more. These three simple lessons happen to stand out far more than the others and it they are something that I think those that are starting in the Ironman training and racing arena can benefit from as well as those veterans that may have lost their way, the same way I had. When I say I lost my way I am referring to the constant training and racing for 18 plus months while racing Ironman Texas twice and Ironman Arizona. I did not realize it as I was going through it but burn out existed and triathlon had become a job and not fun the way it was when I started (well not the first sprint triathlon for those of you that know the story.) Once IMTX was finished and I was heading back to Dallas I could not wait to put the bike on the rack and leave it and everything that came with triathlon in a bag. For the first time in years I had no races on my schedule and it was glorious. No boxes to check, no nutrition to purchase, no concern about nearly anything. After a few months I was having a conversation with Jeff and the idea of joining him on a 50 mile trail race sounded like fun and that morphed into a 100 mile trail race. The training at the start was daunting but it soon became a way of life and one that I enjoyed. After completing the 50 and the 100 ultra trail runs I believed I was ready to train for an Ironman. This time around I was not going to hire a coach and instead craft my own training plan and then do as much as I could with friends which were the key to reinvigorating my passion for Ironman distance races. Here are the Three Simple Lessons I learned from training for and racing Ironman Chattanooga 2014.

  1. Make It Fun

[caption id="attachment_9721" align="alignright" width="225"]fun - lessons - ironman chattanooga Source: Relevant Childrens Ministry[/caption] As I mentioned I trained with a group of friends as much as I possibly could. Mid-week we would swim in Lake Grapevine and on the weekends it was full of long rides and runs. I believe that you should do a few training rides/runs on your own since you are going to be on the course by yourself but having friends around to crack jokes with and remove the anxiety was a tremendous help. I am very fortunate that 12-13 of the FWTri Club decided to race IMCHOO and more fortunate that 5 of us decided to share a house together. Having them around during all the prep work and bike drop off and swim practice and race day travel made it so much easier that I am considering renting a house for Maryland and inviting them there (or anybody reading this) just so that I am not alone on race morning. You can read the blog post about the crew at Ironman Chattanooga from friend and training partner Old Stude by clicking this link.

  1. Less Is More Unless More Is More

What exactly does this mean? Yeah, I do not know either but it sounded good and it probably drew a few eyeballs to the point. Anyway, what I am trying to say is that the less I trained (in terms of length of time) the better it was for my psychologically and that the more I trained (in terms of duration of workouts) the better I felt I was prepared to tackle the Ironman distance. For example, most training plans may include one 20+ mile run but the training plan I put together included three(3) 20+ mile training runs with weeks that touched 60+ miles of running. From the bike I not only included long rides of 60-120 miles on a Saturday but then added in triple bricks of 20 mile rides and 4 miles run for three sets the following day. These workout sessions left me trashed but having the proper recovery days and weeks built-in put me in and ideal place to execute a race plan and draw on the pain of the experience and apply it to race day.

  1. Race The Course Not Your Expectations

I say this in regards to Chattanooga specifically but it is a terrific general rule. Going into Ironman Chattanooga there was a lot of uproar over the course being 4 miles longer than the standard 112 miles and that the elevation was going to be so brutal that by the time you were done your Garmin files would like you climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. Neither of these came into play for me on this course because I raced the course and not what all the social media sound bites were. The course had a moderate elevation gain but it was mostly rollers and the 4 extra miles were never noticeable. Yes, I screwed up after two hours by not taking in any calories for about an hour (Be careful how much you dilute your gels!) Once I put Perform into my system it was like rocket fuel and the body was much better. Another scenario in which this popped up is the run at Ironman Chattanooga. Reflecting on it weeks later I realize that I put my mind into a scenario in which the hills on the back half of the run were impossible and I needed to walk to conserve energy for the finish. What a mistake! Had I raced the course and ran until I could not anymore then I would have met my goal of a sub-4 hour marathon at an Ironman. I let the course defeat me that day because I expected it to be harder than it was.   With ultra trail run training in full effect now I need to remember these simple lessons so that I can exceed my goal of breaking 24 hours at Rocky Raccoon at the end of January. To that point I am running 21 miles this weekend but it will be broken down into 12 on my own and then back to back 5k and 10k races with friends. This will make the day fun and break down that long run into manageable parts.

Do You Keep Track Of Lessons Learned?


Jason Bahamundi

About the Author:

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.