Ironman South Africa Training Update

Man, this is tough!  In my head when I was planning this, training for an Ironman 100% indoors wasn’t this difficult – and I certainly hadn’t dreamed up the types of complications that have come up.  But that’s triathlon, I guess.  It’s not just a sport that we train for, I suppose; it’s a sport that we have to find a way to fit into our lifestyle just to survive on race day.  Endurance, training and race-day nutrition, injury prevention, hydration, proper equipment, mental toughness, race strategy (some to win, some to last)….all of these are things that take time to develop and understand, and that’s been REALLY hard to do with just 1 small grocery store, a handful of restaurants, the closest bike shop 3.5 hours away by airplane, no access to the outdoors, limited heat during a ridiculously cold and snowy winter, and the world’s worst cabin fever that ebbs and flows with security incidents, work life, and my mental state.

Recently I’ve added to this a lower back injury that landed me in the clinic – turns out I pulled the 2 muscles that connect my pelvis to my spine while adapting to new swim-replacement exercises – and (**gross alert**) a rogue stomach bacteria from bad water that earned me a few down-and-out weeks and a nice round of antibiotics.

But to me, this is pure triathlon.  I’m not Chris McCormack or Andy Potts, so for me and presumably the rest of us (minus one…I’m certain that Macca is a regular reader of this blog 🙂 ), triathlon isn’t so much about swimming, biking and running – it’s a challenge that goes far beyond that and asks us to commit to toeing the line on race day no matter what else is going on.  The old bumper sticker “triathlon is life” may be what I’m getting at – it really is!  As amateur triathletes we don’t have to be dedicated to triathlon to the point where it takes over our lives, but we DO have to find a way to make it a significant contributor without it becoming THE significant part of our life.

So I got sidetracked – my training update…

I’ve  been  training as much as possible over the last month, and I can’t help but feel like I’m training around the challenges.  Lower back is tricky, as is the stomach thing, but I’m happy with the balance.  Right now I’m taking 3 rest days per week – MUCH more than I had planned in my schedule, but to allow for recovery, this has been the only way to swing it.

On Tuesdays I’m hitting a high-intensity trainer workout on the Computrainer, on Wednesdays it’s to the treadmill for a 45-95 minute Fartlek run depending on what my back will tolerate, and then a long bike and run on Saturday & Sunday (on the trainer and treadmill, respectively) that bike before or run after if possible.  So that’s it for now, but my base is carrying me through nicely.  I’m feeling strong when I can get on the equipment, and when I can’t, I’ve had to stop beating myself up over it and accept it and work with it.  That’s been a nice revelation, and I’m still confident in knocking IMSA out of the park – who knows, this may be a blessing in disguise that will allow me to peak right at the proper time!

And last weekend was EPIC for the trainer.  At five straight hours on the trainer (read: didn’t stop pedaling for five hours), I hit my all-time record for indoor training…and it felt freaking fantastic.  I was so engrossed in “getting back on the horse” that I considered shooting for six, but I was able to convince myself that another hour in the aero position probably wouldn’t be so great.  Next weekend we’re going to push the envelope…shooting for 6 – 6.5 hours, and a 112+ mile read on the Computrainer.

So for now, LIFE is good and TRIATHLON is meshing nicely.  I’m thinking that both mentally and physically, I’m in a much better space than reporting that I’m killing it 6-7 days/week and am miserable trying to fight injury, illness and cabin fever.  Though Ironman South Africa is the next goal, triathlon for life is the goal.

Life is good.


4 Responses

  1. 6 hours on the trainer! You’re rocking it Nathan! Do you have music/tv on while you’re biking?

    • As much as I hate to do it, I have to have something on in the background to pretend that the scenery is changing 🙂 I usually pop on a movie – just whatever’s on Indian satellite TV – but tend to pay more attention to the Computrainer readouts than anything.

  2. Hi Nathan, Just saw your story on IMSA website! Inspirational:).I signed up initially to release the stress of starting my own business alone as a woman in Dubai and as the 100’s of km of training passed under my feet and pedals I have grown to love being outdoors and testing myself mentally and physically. I am Doing my first IM in PE too and just wanted to
    wish you an amazing race day. Kieran

    • Hi Kieran – thanks so much, and what a great story you’ve got as well! Little Musicians looks pretty amazing (though I’m sure Ironman training is a welcome release). When are you arriving in PE? We’re getting in on Wednesday night and sometime before race day it would be great to catch a cup of coffee or lunch to chat about the road in – drop me an e-mail ( if you’re up for it. We’ll be staying just in the middle of town. And good luck!!

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