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Ironman Florida: A Look Back At My Training

by Meghann on November 12, 2013

For Ironman Florida, I followed the training plan found in Start to Finish: 24 Weeks to an Endurance Triathlon.

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Well, I didn’t follow the training plan word-for-word, but I did follow the overall gist of it. What really appealed to me about this plan was how flexible it was. You had the option of training a little harder by including the additional “optional” workouts in your weekly routine, or you could go bare bones with the required workouts only. I went “bare bones,” which made the plan very friendly for my 40+ hour week work schedule. I was also traveling a lot for work and had to get a little creative with how I moved my training schedule around (it was a lot of “on” one weekend and “off” the next with long workouts.)

I didn’t end up following all of the swim and track workouts included in the plan since I trained with my team and just did the workouts our coach gave us. The book actually makes a note that if you’re swimming with a group, it’s perfectly fine to use the group’s workouts, since training with a group will ALWAYS be better than by yourself (especially in the pool!). However, I did follow the bike trainer workouts and was thankful to have them each week. I also followed the recommended long workouts on the weekend (minus the weekends I was traveling for work).

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I would 100% recommend the plan for a first time Ironman. It was easy to follow, not very intimidating, and didn’t completely take over my life. I trained roughly 15 hours a week and was happy with that. I would have no problem following this exact plan again.

I should also note that even though the plan is 24-weeks long, it does require a decent base before starting. Before starting my plan, I was running pretty regularly (15-20 miles per week), had built up my long bike rides to 30 miles (roughly 2 hours), and was consistently swimming 3 days a week. I was also strong thanks to regular CrossFit (something i had to eventually give up while training, but was glad I had the strength base going into it).

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There’s no way I would have been able to swim 2.4 miles, if it weren’t my swim group. I owe my whole swim to them and I’ve thanked them over and over again for teaching me proper technique and getting my butt in shape for my Ironman. I can’t recommend training with a swim group enough. I grew up in the pool, but I wasn’t a swimmer – they made me a swimmer.

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A LOT of people ask me how I found my swim group, but the truth is I happily stumbled into it. My friend Courtney invited me to swim with her friends that met a couple of times a week and I enjoyed it so much that I kept going back. Almost two years later I count everyone in XP as my closest friends. We’ve attended each other’s weddings and they were even there to cheer me on at the finish line.

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I <3 all of them!

It’s always so strange to train in such a public forum. Blogging so openly about my training meant I was putting everything out there. One minute I would be very confident about my training, the next I would receive a comment that had me questioning everything I was doing. More than a few readers told me to quit because of my crazy travel schedule or because they thought I wasn’t getting all of my recommended miles in. You can only take so many of those comments before you start to believe them and I was really starting to doubt myself.

I spent many hours turning to friends/ coaches/ co-workers who had earned the Ironman title and asking them for their opinions. They were all great at reassuring me that I was on track. That I was training smart and the #1 problem people face with any race is injuries because of overtraining. I’ve been very, very, very lucky in my racing career with avoiding injuries (KNOCK ON WOOD) and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I train smart, that I don’t overdo it, and that I only push it when I need to push it. I think I’m proof that quality over quantity is always key when it comes to training for races.

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Still, if you would have asked me before race day if I had any regrets, I probably would have said that I regretted not getting in enough really long swims or spending enough time in the saddle on the bike. I would have said that I should have maxed out higher than 16 miles on the run or made more of an effort to get longer training sessions in while traveling for work.

However, now that I’ve crushed any goal I would have ever thought imaginable on race day, I don’t have any regrets. I trained smart and I raced smart and listening to my coach (and not letting other comments get to me) paid off. My ONLY regret is letting some of those comments get to me.

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I know this photo is blurry – and I look like a crazy person- but it’s still one of my favorites from race day. πŸ™‚

Do I have another Ironman in me?

Again, if you would have asked me before the race I may have had another opinion than I do now. The race was AWESOME. So much fun and so much better than I would have ever thought possible. I never once told myself on the course “I’m never doing this again,” which I think can attest to how great I felt out there.

HOWEVER, I can tell you I uttered those same words HUNDREDS of times before the race. It’s not the race that sucks – it’s the training! For 24-weeks my life outside of work revolved around training, which was really tough since I was also a newlywed. Thankfully my husband 100% supports everything I do, but I still think he might kill me if I immediately registered for another IM and threw myself into training again. I bow down to all the moms out there who train for Ironmans with little ones running around. How do yo do it?! You all earn MAD respect.

I asked my husband several times how he could put up with all my training and he said he could because he knew how much it made me happy and that made him happy. We respect each other’s passions and I think that’s key to making our relationship work. He also said it was because he knew that it would eventually end, i.e. I would cross that finish line and take a break. So, for the sake of my marriage, I will not be registering for another Ironman anytime soon. However, the yearning to improve my 70.3 time is definitely out there and that distance is not off the table. πŸ˜‰

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He was SO excited to be the one to give me my medal at the finish line.

I’m not done with you yet, Ironman! But it may be a few years before I return. For now I want to work on improving my short distance times (that’s going to hurt!) and maybe see about a 70.3. I’m also itching to return to CrossFit. I really fell in love with it last year and was so sad when I had to drop it from my training due to weekly time constraints. I’m looking forward to getting back to my box and building my muscles back up (oh, and getting back some of that awesome muscle definition I had going into my wedding! πŸ˜‰ ).

Have you ever told yourself “I’m never doing this again,” then immediately changed your mind once it was all over?

{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs November 12, 2013 at 8:48 pm

I can’t imagine finding the time to train for three events at such long distances & work full time — way to go! It must feel so nice to get back to a “normal” workout schedule! πŸ™‚
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2 sarah @makingitmyhome.blogspot.com November 12, 2013 at 8:52 pm

you are a rockstar for training so hard and putting that hard work into the ironman. I cant believe anyone would have the audacity to do anything but encourage and cheer another person on. thank you for being a motivation for having something to strive for and actually doing it!
sarah @makingitmyhome.blogspot.com recently posted..Thanksgiving Menu

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3 Amy @ Run Write Hike November 12, 2013 at 9:02 pm

So glad to hear you want to do it again! Definitely take some time off, though. You deserve it!
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4 Kayla @ Fit Life Forward November 12, 2013 at 9:09 pm

I don’t usually read through the other comments when I read your post or comment myself – but I don’t know how anyone could think what you were doing wasn’t safe. You were so smart about all of your decisions and I think incredibly inspiring! Training for anything while working a 40 hr/week job is hard work and you did it for an IRONMAN! Truly inspiring! I’ve been thinking about how you could crush the marathon now that you ran a 4:30 after already being out in the swim and bike!
Kayla @ Fit Life Forward recently posted..Readers Asked – I Answered

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5 Misspinkkate November 12, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Ahhhhhh the pic of Derek with the medal makes me die, so cute!!!!!

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6 Victoria November 12, 2013 at 9:41 pm

I think your training was spot on to have a strong, solid day. It wasn’t a plan built to send you to Kona, but that’s probably because you weren’t aiming to qualify. Go figure.

The comments from people about how you should quit…I think they were mostly from non-triathletes who for some reason think you need to bike 100 miles and run 20 miles every weekend for the 6 months leading up to the race. That’s now how you train for an ironman, that’s how you burn yourself out and get injured.
Victoria recently posted..November 4-10: But, Why All That Running?

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7 Danielle @ Its A Harleyyy Life November 12, 2013 at 9:47 pm

Can’t wait to see you get back to a box! (: (aka crossfit)

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8 Megan November 12, 2013 at 9:53 pm

Do you think you’ll be a training mom soon-ish? Lol!

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9 Becky @ RunFunDone November 12, 2013 at 10:02 pm

Ah ha ha. I’ve only run one marathon, and I hated the training so much that I only ran 2 days per week. Then, during the race it hurt and I kept thinking, “I’ll never do this again. The training sucks and the race hurts.” But…20 minutes after I finished it was all, “I could do better! If I had just actually trained I could have done so much better! I have to do it again!”
Becky @ RunFunDone recently posted..How to Get that Butt Moving!

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10 Caroline November 12, 2013 at 10:54 pm

I’ve really really loved following your training, and I’m so happy you decided to share it with your readers. Congrats on training smart.
Caroline recently posted..A Sunrise Air Force Base Run

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11 Sara @ LovingOnTheRun November 12, 2013 at 11:29 pm

Thank you for doing this! I really loved following your training! Congrats on doing such an amazing job!! I think I have told myself I’m never doing this again after every marathon I have ever run…oh well! I always end up back out there wanting to do better!
Sara @ LovingOnTheRun recently posted..Two Reasons to Smile Today

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12 Caroline November 13, 2013 at 1:32 am

I’ve really enjoyed following along with your training, it’s been very inspiring. And you certainly showed the odd negative commenter that they were wrong!!

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13 Kristin November 13, 2013 at 1:41 am

Congrats again! Love the blurry picture of you! Your arms and shoulders look killer.

I can’t believe people had the nerve to criticize your training. Who does that?! I don’t know why we left negative comments bother us so much, especially from strangers.

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14 Ali November 13, 2013 at 4:59 am

Love this. I’m sorry the commenters got to you. It’s terribly annoying when other people think they know more about your body and your training than you do.

And, yes, I ALWAYS say I’m never going to do a distance again after I race. I always do it again, too. πŸ™‚
Ali recently posted..Words that hold us together

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15 Kathy November 13, 2013 at 6:49 am

THe picture of your hubby and the slightly blurry one are super cute….they would both be keepers! Nice job on the IM…

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16 Kelly November 13, 2013 at 6:51 am

Thank you for your reflection, I think it was spot on. I think your training was amazing, and you proved everyone wrong that questioned it. It’s easy to sit back, read it, and judge it. But it was your life, your early mornings and evenings away from home, and I think it was pretty darn impressive. Congratulations on an amazing accomplishment.

Now as a married woman, my advice is to spend some time with your husband! While it is wonderful that he supports you, remember to show him that you support him and your marriage. And if you are considering having children in the next couple of years…TRUST ME, you will want to make spent as much time as possible just the 2 of you. Just my two cents..congratulations again!

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17 Laura @ Sneakers and Spatulas November 13, 2013 at 8:26 am

Some people are just haters and I bet the majority of the naysayers haven’t even completed an Ironman themselves!
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18 Elizabeth @ Positive Change November 13, 2013 at 8:44 am

I loved reading about this, it sounds like you trained really smart! You did so great and reading about your journey was such an inspiration. I typically want to sign up for something right away after a race or during a race!
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19 Natalie @ Free Range Human November 13, 2013 at 9:01 am

I have said that to myself more times than I count and I always end up going back! About halfway through reading this, I wanted to ask if you were going to get back into Crossfit. I recently picked it up, and I absolutely love it! Can’t wait to hear about your foray back into it!

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20 natasha Pattison November 13, 2013 at 9:03 am

I just want you to know, you are such an inspiration! I have been reading your blog for a couple years and have been able to watch you grow as an athlete and it is just amazing!!! You have definitely motivated me to step up my game countless times; who knows, maybe one day i can be an ironman too!
Thank you!

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21 Katie November 13, 2013 at 10:27 am

I’m debating when I will attempt a marathon again. I finished, but my time was slow, and my knee/itband was pretty angry at me during training. I know I will do another one someday, but 2014 I’m going to branch into triathlons!
Katie recently posted..Not What I Expected

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22 Rebecca November 13, 2013 at 10:35 am

Your Ironman finish was amazing, kudos to you! It’s hard not to doubt yourself when preparing for a big event, but your preparation definitely paid off.

I told myself during and after my first marathon that I would never do another one. But here I am, less than a month out from my second! I think I learned from my mistakes with the first one and I feel much more confident now.
Rebecca recently posted..Dallas Marathon Training: Week 17 complete!

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23 Jill November 13, 2013 at 11:39 am

Haters going to hate. Its hard when that one negative comment feels so important. But you did an amazing job!! The blurry picture is awesome and your husband with your medal is so cute. He looks so happy!

I hope you get back into xfit. I loved hearing about your journey!
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24 Ashley November 13, 2013 at 11:48 am

Meghann you are a SERIOUS inspiration and I hope those negative comments are WAY pushed out by all the positive comments.

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25 Dianne November 13, 2013 at 12:05 pm

You are an incredible athlete. I so enjoy reading about your adventures. Don’t ever let anyone tell you what you can’t do or shouldn’t do. You are so inspiring. Never stop smiling. I think you are amazing.

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26 Colleen @ CSmith Run November 13, 2013 at 12:54 pm

I think I say I’m never going to do that again after every race…even after 5ks I tell myself that I hate that distance and want to keep to the longer ones. And then after the longer ones, I decide it’s time to focus on shorter. In my most recent marathon, I told myself during it that I never want to do it again, but then I knew I was going to qualify for Boston and you can’t NOT do Boston if you have the chance!
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27 Rebecca November 13, 2013 at 1:16 pm

24 weeks is a really long time to train!! As you mentioned, I have no idea how people with kids have trained for an ironman. I can barely train (properly) for a half marathon! I kind of wish I did a bigger tri or the marathon thing before kids – so much freedom and time then! I think I *may* attempt an ironman, or at least a half ironman later on in life – but not right now.

I made a comment on twitter the night of your IM about the ‘haters’ who kept commenting on how you probably wouldn’t make it – and how you were proving them wrong by kickin some ass. I went on the site where some of those comments were made and it was kind of nice to see that they had changed their tune a bit that day. But – there are some people out there who make it their mission to just hate on everyone. Good for you for not letting it get to you and running an amazing race!
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28 Kelsey M. November 13, 2013 at 1:18 pm

OMG. What? How can people be so cruel?? I thought you did AMAZING. You, and your siblings! Do you have any idea how inspiring you are? I was SO happy when you said you finished, and I couldn’t wait for your recap! Keep on doing what you love! There are more people out in the world that are rooting for you than you know!

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29 Jenny November 13, 2013 at 2:40 pm

I’m glad you did a follow up post on your training.
I remember seeing the snarky comments on your training and I’m glad you addressed them in this post.
One of the frustrating things I find with the internet & blogs is that it enables some people to let their inner mean girl creep out. Suddenly, everyone is an “expert” on what it takes to complete a marathon, an ironman, a century etc and because you chose to post your journey online, that somehow gives them the “right” to call you out on what they believe is sub-standard effort. It is just so 9th grade to snark on someone else’s efforts.
This was YOUR race, YOUR training and YOUR time.
I’m happy to hear about the journey and even more happy to see how proud you and your family are with the result.

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30 Nikole November 13, 2013 at 2:41 pm

I swore after I had my son I was done and wasn’t having another baby. Well I am having a little girl in February. I think our minds are good at glossing over the bad things and highlighting all the good parts.

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31 Kasandra @ Urban In Suburbia November 13, 2013 at 3:12 pm

RE: Have you ever told yourself β€œI’m never doing this again,” then immediately changed your mind once it was all over?

Um only all the time, hahaha. Especially after I did my first full. I did my second 6 months later (NYCM!)

CONGRATS on your IM!
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32 Maureen November 13, 2013 at 4:12 pm

I swore for a long time after Philly last year that I was done with the marathon distance. Now I’m considering it for 2014. Breaks and time away are good. Congratulations on your finish, and for doing the training that worked for you and not what anyone else said you should or shouldn’t be doing.
Maureen recently posted..Race Recap: Trenton Double Cross Half Marathon

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33 Elyse November 13, 2013 at 4:28 pm

Thanks for this post! I’ve loved reading about your Ironman journey and was psyched to see you did so well. I couldn’t believe some people were hating on your training. You rocked it and the race so hard! Congrats again. πŸ™‚
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34 Taylor @ Singletrackedmind November 13, 2013 at 5:10 pm

My boyfriend’s an ironman and said the race is so much more fun than the actual pain and time training.

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35 Missy November 13, 2013 at 6:35 pm

During my last half marathon, I was saying “I’m never doing this again” a hundred times. But now, a few weeks later, I’m revisiting the idea of a full marathon. Runners are a crazy breed of people πŸ˜‰
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36 Marina November 13, 2013 at 7:08 pm

I am sorry about those meanies out there in the blog world.

Reading your Ironman recaps and related posts have really inspired me, on a different level. I’ve been studying for the CPA exam, and I take my last part soon. Its been a 7 month process of studying and sitting for exams. Your posts really inspired me to “trust my training”, or in my case studying. Because I similarly doubt that I have put in enough hours. Thanks again for inspiring people in ways your probably didn’t imagine!

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37 Mary November 13, 2013 at 7:11 pm

I did 2 70.3’s (based on your inspiration!) and said I would not do another for at least a year or 2, but I read your recaps and thoughts and I am almost ready to try the Ironman (almost). My original plan was to work on my shorter distances and I think I will probably stick with that for next season. And I agree that Crossfit is awesome. I started in the spring and since tri season is over I have been hitting that harder. I think I would miss that more than anything if I started training the longer distances again. Good luck on whatever you decide on next:)!

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38 Kaitlyn November 13, 2013 at 7:29 pm

CONGRATS on an amazing race! I look forward to seeing what you can do in another marathon….after running 4:31 AFTER a 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike, I bet you’d be able to CRUSH your old marathon PR! πŸ™‚

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39 K November 13, 2013 at 8:00 pm

I used to read your blog much more regularly and haven’t in a while. I randomly checked it right before your race and had to check back to see how it all went. I honestly don’t think I would ever consider doing a marathon, let alone an iron man. However, I seriously teared up when reading your recap of the big day. It’s pretty amazing, good for you!

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40 Michelle November 13, 2013 at 10:35 pm

I definitely said I would never do another marathon — and now I’m itching… ITCHING to run not just one, but at least two next year. I probably would have done another one sooner, but I knew I wanted to have a 3rd baby and well… it’s definitely been worth the wait!
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41 Molly November 14, 2013 at 9:39 am

I think you should be that much more proud for finishing (smashing!) the race, given that you trained in such a public forum. I’d be willing to bet that most training for an IM don’t have to deal w/ that amount of negativity and/or criticism – and that speaks volumes of you! Congrats again!

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42 Steph @321delish November 14, 2013 at 11:03 pm

You’re a Rock Star Meghann, plain and simple. You’ve inspired me to very seriously consider tackling an Ironman next year!
Steph @321delish recently posted..It’s Race Week!

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43 Sarahf November 16, 2013 at 3:11 am

I’m still staggered by what you and your siblings achieved, and it’s extra great that your husband can enjoy your victory with you. Juggling everything is so hard, and following you through your training, it certainly seemed like you did a stellar job of keeping a balance (although, it might not have felt like that for you!). As for the negative comments, I’m sorry you had to deal with them, it sucks, and, for someone like me who doesn’t know much about training for these things, it was good to see a sensible approach, you demonstrated that quality outweighs quantity every time. Oooh, very long comment, sorry!
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44 [email protected] November 20, 2013 at 3:38 pm

I said that all during my pregnancy – “we aren’t having another baby – I’m never doing this again” because pregnancy was rough for me & now my baby boy is 6 weeks old & I’m thinking “okay – I do really want him to have a sibling – not anytime soon, but some day.” Haha

& I love reading your ironman recaps. I’m fascinated by people who complete iron mans! It isn’t JUST the physical discipline, but the mental discipline – so flippin’ impressive!! You’re a rock star!

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