Tri Talk Tuesday: Lessons Learned During Ironman Training

Today for Tri Talk Tuesday I’m talking about lessons learned in triathlon and racing… but specifically with Ironman training. I have learned so many lessons throughout this process, and I thought I would highlight some of my favorites for you.


Expressing in words the lessons I’ve learned training for my first Ironman is REALLY hard! It is a POWERFUL, LIFE CHANGING experience. The whole experience has given me goosebumps through out and has taught me so many lessons. I’m going to try and express what all of this training has taught me.. here goes nothing…
Kristin's Phone 7.14.14 078

Lesson #1 You are ALWAYS stronger than you think you are. 

I take this quote to have more meaning when it comes to ‘mental strength’ versus ‘physical strength.’ There have been many days where I did not want to get out of bed for swim practice, many nights where I was tired after work and didn’t want to get on my bike or put on my sneakers, and plenty of days where I had self doubt.. but I convinced myself time and time again that I am finishing this training and I am DOING this for ME. No one else, but me. All of the hours of training taught me that I am mentally and physically stronger than I ever thought I was.  I have always been an athlete, and in physically great shape… but nothing has given me more mental strength than Ironman training.  I honestly feel like I can take on the world now! This is a feeling I never had before this training experience.

Lesson #2 You need to eat A LOT when training for an Ironman

Train-Eat-Sleep Great Website

I have never mentioned this on the blog before, but I have struggled with some distorted eating issues/body images for years now.  It has never got to the point where I’ve been completely depriving myself, but there was a point where I could have been considered a starving athlete. There were a few years (not too long ago) where I was exercising a ton and not eating enough to replenish what I using… not good!  I was getting by with the bare minimum thinking that it was ok. Even when I was competing in sprint and olympic triathlons, I most definitely was not fueling properly because I was scared of the calories and gaining weight.  Ironman training forced me (in a good way) to WAKE the F up when it comes to sports nutrition.  You cannot get through Ironman training and racing without eating A LOT of carbs, sugar, calories, etc.  You just CAN’T.  As someone that has previously battled eating demons, I had a nutritional analysis done for Ironman training. The plan was really scary at first i.e.drinking tons of sports drink instead of water, but once I started to change my ways, I noticed a huge difference in my performance. Who knew?! Suddenly a light bulb went off and I was no longer worried about the calories or the sugar. I was instead, worried about being a rock star with my training and racing! If fueling properly could make me faster, you don’t have to tell me twice what to do;) I I honestly believe Ironman Training has helped me get over my disordered eating thoughts and for that, I am grateful.

#3 Ironman training has given me the confidence I never knew I had. 

Though She Be But Little She is Fierce

I feel like Ironman training has changed the way I view myself, for the better.  Before embarking on this journey, I never felt good in my own skin.  I still have a way to go with negative self thinking, but training for IMMT has given me a HUGE boost of confidence.  It’s honestly helped me learn how to love myself and my body. Taking on this huge feat has given me a feeling that I can take on anything if I put my mind to it.  Honestly, I would be scared if I were one of my competitors, this girl is on fire. I also feel way better about my body than I ever have before.  I am amazed at how my amazing body has endured hundreds of hours and miles over this past year, it’s truly incredible! Now when I look in the mirror I can’t help but see an (almost) Ironman athlete and feel powerful! I might be the same person I was when I started this journey, but I went from basically hating myself to learning how to love myself. Let’s just say I’m officially a beast.

Hit your switch!

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  • Reply Nicole August 5, 2014 at 11:18 pm

    I love this post! I had a lot of the same feelings as I went through the process . You feel unstoppable! For me, as soon as i started doing endurance I learned to look at fuel as more of fuel than anything else. I definitely think it has changed my view of food for the better!

    • Reply Kristin August 6, 2014 at 1:08 pm

      Seriously, you do feel unstoppable!! I’m glad training helped changed your view of food for the better too!

  • Reply Nicole August 5, 2014 at 11:18 pm

    And PS I would be scared to race you too!!! 🙂 you’re amazing and an inspiration!

    • Reply Kristin August 6, 2014 at 1:07 pm

      Thank you so much!! ha ha love it;)

  • Reply Courtney @The TriGirl Chronicles August 6, 2014 at 12:59 am

    I love, love, love this!!!! As someone who has also struggled through an eating disorder, I totally agree with you about how learning to eat for training really helps keep those terrible thoughts and behaviors at bay. Congrats on everything you’ve taken away from all your training! May your race only teach you many more valuable lessons.

    • Reply Kristin August 6, 2014 at 1:07 pm

      Thank you courtney! I’m happy to hear that training has helped your eating issues as well. It’s something I never thought I could get over, but Ironman training has really made a difference. Glad we can connect on this:)

  • Reply Lee@tri*inspired*life August 6, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    Great post! I agree with so many of the points you made here. Through IMLP training, it could at times, be a roller coaster ride. Days when I felt as if I could conquer the world and days when I wondered how I would complete a full IM. Just wait until you are racing and all your hard work, training and dedication comes together! It will be a day unlike any other!!!

    • Reply Kristin August 6, 2014 at 6:54 pm

      Thanks Lee! The whole experience IS a roller coaster ride, that’s for sure.. emotional and physical! Eeeee I can only imagine what race day feels like!! Soon enough:)

  • Reply Desiree August 6, 2014 at 11:13 pm

    Thanks for sharing this post, Kristin. Along with the others ladies who responded above, I also have struggled with disordered eating. It runs in my family, my sister has been in impatient therapy, not once but two times in the past few years. I was always the heavier of the two of us. Running helped me loose weight and in the past I also trained on the bare minimal. Or I would run long and take in way too many wrong calories after, which in turn hurt my recovery. You have inspired me to fuel myself better this training session. I also have to be a good role model for my 14 year old daughter, so proper nutrition is key.

  • Reply Kristen @ Glitter and Dust August 6, 2014 at 11:49 pm

    Wow, I can say ditto as well to #2. I have struggled with body image issues and disordered eating for years. Triathlon has completely changed my thought process about food and what it does for my body. I have always been SO AFRAID of gaining weight and when I first started training for triathlon I was eating about 1500 calories a day (and burning something close to that). NOT good. My mom pretty much had to shake me and knock some sense into me. I started keeping a food log and weighing myself, as my mom promised that I would not gain weight if I ate the “right way.” Now I am finding that I can eat 2500-4000 calories a day, depending on the workout load, and not only feel better and more energized, but look leaner, more athletic, and healthier. It has been a life altering experience. Thank you for being so open and honest – I definitely connect to everything you had to say in this post.

  • Reply Amanda August 6, 2014 at 11:51 pm

    Great post! Love number 1. We ARE stronger than we think we are. I’m always battling negative those thoughts when I race and train. It’s so frustrating sometimes. Thanks for the inspiration from this post.

  • Reply Leslie @ Triathlete Treats August 12, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    Great lessons!! They are all totally true!! You absolutely are stronger than you think you are. Wait until race day when you put all that hard work to use and do way better then you ever thought you could do! (I beat all of my training partners in Canada. I couldn’t believe it. ) You totally have to eat. It is so important!! You can’t get by on not eating for sure! You should have confidence. You have trained hard and it will pay off!
    I have learned that stretching and foam rolling are important! 🙂

    • Reply Kristin August 25, 2014 at 8:36 pm

      Race day was definitely an eye opener… I feel like I can take on the world now. It’s amazing the sense of empowerment it gives you. Hard work did pay off at IMMT, yay!!

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