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Preparing For Your First Ironman

By Tom Piszkin

This series was originally written in preparation for Iroman USA in Lake Pacid, NY 1999.
1: Calling All IronPeople 2: The Road To Lake Placid 3: Bring on the Power 4: Jump to Warp
5: Cruise Control 6: The Need for Speed 7: At the Crest 8: The Two Week Tweak

Calling All IronPeople
by Tom Piszkin

Watching NBC's superlative production of the Hawaiian IronMan
competition can't help but inspire one to try the distance--even the
fast-twitch afflicted among us. For all but the extremely talented 
(or lucky), a race-day stroll down Alii Drive is a very remote
possibility. Nevertheless, the desire to complete any Ironman triathlon
burns in many of us. 

Well, the gods have answered our prayers! On August 15, 1999 in Lake Placid, 
New York [May 20th, 2000 in Camp Pendleton, California] mortal beings will 
be given another opportunity to fullfill their dreams of Ironman conquest. 
In support of these determined souls, the next eight issues of this column 
will be focused on mapping the path from your couch today to the water's edge 
on 15-AUG [20-MAY]. The first installment follows:

Are you serious about this goal? Take this simple test--even if you are 
already committed. GO OUT FOR A TEN HOUR WALK. Take along 4000 calories
of nurishment and make sure you have water sources enroute. The object
is not how far you can go, but how well you manage the: 1) jarring impact 
of your stride, 2) refueling demands of your system, and 3) mental
discpline required to stay on task for this length of time.

If you don't have the will to take or patience to pass this test, then I'd 
reconsider a trip to Lake Placid. If you come away with more than a couple 
days of soreness, then you've saved yourself the agony of a potentially
debilitating injury that would likely surface in the course of your
serious preparations. If you can't eat and walk at the same time, then 
picking up your special needs bag on the bike may necessitate a regime
of coordination training.

If you are serious enough to take this test, and come away more inspired 
to make your Lake Placid debut, then you should immediately (within a week) 
begin a weight training program--while the season is young. The best program 
is Diane Butcha's video (made with Mark Allen and Paula Newby-Frazer).
It will keep you occupied for 3-4 months. It is the most important thing
for you to be doing NOW! 

The second most recommended pursuit is to enroll in a yoga class. Just
reading a book and practicing solo won't do it. Join a group. Don't
worry about associating with people who think that the Transition Area 
is Purgatory. I guarantee that your religious orientation will not be
subverted. I do guarantee that you'll come away with a better sense
of how your body operates. This sense will be taxed to the max in the
months to come.

That's it for now. Next month we'll talk more specifically about your 
running program. Happy New Year! --Tom