Helen Murawska completed the Barcelona Ironman 2017
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Bulletproof yourself for Ironman: part 3 – training!

Victory’s Head of Performance, Helen Murawska, is a super-fit sportswoman, with a sister who won a silver medal in the World Long Distance Triathlon Championships in Beijing in 2014.  So she knows a thing or two about training for endurance events!  But in 2016, Helen and her husband Paul had a crazy idea and decided to spend nearly a year preparing for their first Ironman Triathlon, in Barcelona.  In part 1 of this series, Helen talked about five vital questions that virtually nobody explores before signing up. In part 2, it was time to prepare your body and mind for the journey… and this week, it’s training time!  But this isn’t about getting out on the road – this is the Ironman training you can’t put on Strava (sorry)!

Now that you have taken the plunge and entered, you can immediately get stuck into your first tasks:

Write a nutrition plan.

…or get in contact with someone who can help you. At Victory, we have two amazing dietitians that we recommend: Matt Lovell (who has worked with both England Rugby and both England Football) and Rick Miller (who worked with athletes at both the Beijing and London Olympics) – but don’t worry, they work with more normal people too (though if you’re considering training for an Ironman, I’m not totally sure you could really think of yourself as “normal”!)

Book a physio assessment.

If you don’t already have a great physio, please get in touch with us at Victory and book an assessment.  I won’t labour this point, but it’s important to make sure that your running, swimming and cycling movement patterns are as optimal as you can get them – after all, you’re going to be repeating them millions of times over the next few months as you get training, let alone when you’re actually competing!

Get stuck into your basic strength training.

The stretches and exercises below are examples of some of my favourite movements to improve fundamental movement of an area, it is not an exhaustive list of exercises that will stop you getting injured.

Thoracic rotation

Important for: Improved shoulder range for swimming; better running mechanics; deeper breathing.

How: Lie on your side in the recovery position. Take the top arm up and twist over towards the wall behind you. Stay here for 30 seconds, breathing in and out deeply, and allowing the body (including the top arm) to relax as much as possible. Repeat x 3 each side.

Exercise to improve thoracic rotation for Ironman

Lie on your side in the recovery position

Thoracic rotation is important for Ironman

Take your top arm up and back behind you

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quad rolling

Important for: Improving muscle range before cycling; getting rid of lactic acid post-training; helping your legs absorb shock better when running.

How: Do one leg at a time. Do not put the roller directly on the knee cap but start just north of the knee cap (in the fleshy bit where the quad starts down near the knee). Roll up and down a few inches at a time, for 20-30 seconds, then move the roller progressively up the quad towards the hip.

Foam roll the quads for Ironman

One leg at a time, and start just north of the kneecap!

Glute bridge

Important for: Strengthening the hips and core to avoid lower back issues and lower limb issues; improving cycling and running power.

How: Start on your back, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Squeeze your glute muscles (buttocks) and draw your belly button in. Try to maintain normal breathing whilst doing this. Hold this glute and core activation and lift the pelvis up off the floor by about 4-5 inches, hold for 3 seconds, then slowly lower your pelvis back down to the floor. Repeat x 10.

Bridging - important for triathlon

Start on your back and squeeze your glutes

Glute strengthening for triathlon

Roll your pelvis up off the floor by 4-5 inches

Split squat

Important for: Strengthening tendons to avoid knee issues; improving cycling and running power.

How: Start with one foot in front of the other, but keep your feet at hip-width apart (don’t stand completely in-line). Bend both knees down until the back knee is about 4-5 inches away from the floor, and then straighten the knees again. Do this one in front of a mirror to ensure that your knees don’t drop inwards. Repeat x 6 with the right foot in front, then x 6 with the left foot in front.

Split squat for triathlon

One foot in front of the other, and feet hip-width apart

Split squat for triathlon

Bend both knees until the back one is 4-5 inches off the floor

Swimmers

Important for: Shoulder health for swimming; negating the hunched-forward bike position.

How: Lie on your front with your hands in line with your ears, elbows tucked in to your sides. Keep your tailbone tucked under, then lift your forehead and arms up off the floor. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and keep the back of the neck long and straight. Hold for 5-10 seconds, then slowly lower down and relax. Repeat x 6.

Shoulder strengthening for triathlon

Lift your forehead and hands off the floor

Balance

Important for: Avoiding rolled ankles, twisted knees, jarred lower back; strengthening the core to improve power; strengthening joints to avoid ligament injuries.

How: Stand one foot directly in line with the other, heel to toe in contact. Have your arms out in front of you. If you already find this very hard, i.e. if you are already wobbling around or falling over, practice this for a few days until you can reach 20 seconds without falling or stepping. If this is doable, adopt the same position and then close your eyes. You are aiming to keep the position for 30+ seconds with either leg forward, with eyes closed.

Balance training for triathlon

Heel/toe stance, arms forward, shut your eyes, don’t fall over!

Now that you have all the tools to get you started, I hope you’re excited for your journey ahead! If you have any questions relating to anything you’ve read here, or if you need to book your physio assessment, call us on 0207 175 0150 to get started!

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