Training > Long distance

40 tips for nailing the Ironman marathon (tips 21-40)

You just swam 3.8km, Then cycled 180km. Wondering how you’re then going to smash out a decent marathon time? Fear not. Here to help you are some of triathlon’s fastest long-distance runners


Key to mastering the marathon is a good pacing plan to help you tick off the km’s and reach the finish line in top shape. Pro Caroline Livesey has the tips

21. To effectively manage your Ironman run pacing you first have to know what your run pace should be. Key brick sessions during training will allow you to dial this in.

22. Typically, as you step off the bike, you’ll feel a bit of elation. The temptation is always to go out fast, but that’s the most common and most costly mistake. Stick to the plan!

23. Think of the first half marathon as preparation for the second half. Your pace plan should allow for some ‘gaining’ of time in the first half and ‘loss’ in the second.

24. Think about the demands of the course/weather in advance and factor them into your pace plan, e.g a particularly hot section or an uphill like at IMUK. Inject small variations into your plan to deal with these.

25. The pace plan must factor in aid station time. You have to fuel correctly to make it through so don’t skimp on nutrition by trying to stick to pace and charging through. Factor them in.


Running an iron marathon not only takes huge amounts of physical endurance but also plenty of mental strength. Kona pro Rachel Joyce shares her advice for staying tough throughout

26. Practise mental cues in training, such as holding your run form and technique, counting or positive talk. If you’ve used these in hard sessions they’ll be more effective in the race.

27. You might find repeating a favourite poem, song or a mantra works for you, to help keep you centred. Again try it in your hard sessions so you know what works and what doesn’t.

28. You won’t feel great for the whole of the run, that’s a guarantee. But, if you’re prepared for that, it’s easier to ride out the rough patches if you can tell yourself you’ll feel better.

29. Have answers ready for the negative doubts that will most likely pop into your head at some point. Remember how you felt terrible in a training session but stuck to it and nailed it.

30. Think about how you will break the marathon down into manageable chunks. Trust me: thinking of 26.2 miles isn’t a good tactic. You can practise breaking distance down during your long run in training.


Many an Ironman takes place during the hottest months of the year, but here to keep you cool under pressure is sports scientist Andy Blow

31. Simulate the environment you’ll be racing in, both heat and humidity, as closely as possible. This makes sure you get the most specific adaptations to the conditions.

32. Do the simulation in the last 14 days before you go to the race – adaptations from heat acclimation come and go quickly so there’s little point when the race is a long way off.

33. Wear extra clothing when training in cooler conditions if you don’t have access to hot weather. Your body will respond to this almost as effectively as it would if you train in heat.

34. Hydrate properly and make sure this includes plenty of sodium in the fluids you’re drinking, as sweat and electrolyte loss in the heat can be very significant. As always, practise in training.

35. Be safe – hyperthermia can be very dangerous if you over do the heat stress, so never push your heat acclimation training or do it on your own. Take a buddy


When the pressure’s on your technique can be the first thing to fail. Here to help you stay strong is IM Lanzarote winner and cover star Lucy Charles

36. Take on the hills. I complete a hill reps session almost every week. It builds strength and teaches you to run with good form uphill. Regardless of whether the run course is flat or has a few lumps, this session works a treat.

37. Don’t neglect the speed work. Yes you’re running a marathon but speed work is still essential. Running at speed teaches you to run more on your toes and with better form. This session combined with a weekly long run is a winning combination.

38. The more tired you get during training or racing the more important it becomes to focus on good form, especially during training. If you can produce good form even when you’re tired it will become cemented in your muscle memory.

39. Have technique cues to check your run form as you fatigue. For example, check for loose hands not crossing over, head up, lift your feet, straight back.

40. Stay relaxed. I often tense up through my shoulders when I’m forcing the run too much, but if you can stay relaxed everything just flows so much better.


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