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Prepare the mind and body for an Ironman

The inspiring Dr Hannah Wells is a pro triathlete and holds a post-doctoral research fellow in the field of biotech engineering. This year, Hannah is competing in her first full Nutri-Grain IronMan, and shares with us her tips and inspiration to prepare for the challenge.

Dr Hannah Wells is a professional athlete who blogs about training through sickness and dealing with setbacks in both her personal life and sports. Here are Hannah’s tips for preparing your body both mentally and physically for competing in the upcoming Ironman on 27 March 2021.

Dr Hannah Wells

How to prepare the body (physically)

Taking on an Ironman is a massive physical challenge for anyone which takes months of training and preparation. Preparing for the Ironman needs to be well thought out and planned to ensure you build enough fitness to complete the task, whilst also avoiding burn out. Depending on your level of fitness, it could take 6 to 12 months to physically prepare, and it may involve anywhere from 10 to 30 hours of training per week depending on experience and goals so it’s a huge commitment. Managing your training load is really important and I highly recommend getting a coach to help do so.

How to prepare the body (nutritionally)

To gain the most out of your training the body must be fuelled well. I can’t stress this enough. While it can be tempting to pair training with healthy eating, we need to firstly make sure we are also getting in enough calories to fuel the work we are doing or we will end up digging ourselves into a hole. It might be helpful to talk with a good sports nutritionist to make sure you are eating enough if you start to increase your training, and that you are meeting all macro/micronutrient requirements too.

How to prepare the mind (establishing a good mind frame)

The Ironman is not only a huge physical challenge, but it also requires a significant amount of mental strength and resilience to get through it. Maintaining concentration and having the courage and determination to push yourself without giving up for that amount of time is tough! Positivity and belief is key, and so is being able to find the balance between remaining calm and controlled but also having that extra ‘adrenaline boost’ on race day to perform at your best. For me, the easiest way to look at race day mentally is to make sure you’re having fun and feeling positive all day, even if you have to force those thoughts through the tough moments in the race. If someone is struggling with the mental prep for race day I would suggest trying more meditation and visualisation leading in to the race.

What to consider on the day both physically and mentally

Tough moments are almost guaranteed to be part of any race day, it is almost inevitable when you are out racing for that amount of time. But if we are prepared for those moments, we can accept them, know that they won’t last and keep pushing on. Trust in the training and preparation you have done and never stop believing all day that you can become unstoppable!

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