You all know I love a good workout, and that I’ve done quite a few races in the past. So my friends and family weren’t too surprised to learn about my next BIG athletic goal: training for my first IRONMAN triathlon.
I’m excited and nervous, but I’m also realistic about the huge time and energy commitment this kind of training requires. I’m going to be drawing on everything I know about health and wellness, plus leaning on my family, friends, coach and co-workers for support. I’ll also be learning a lot of new tips and tricks about training, fitness and nutrition along the way. Though the year, I’ll share my progress with you through this blog! Personally, I like to say my goals out loud where other people can hear them; then I’m committed to making them a reality.
Training Consistency is Key
I’m registered for the Nov. 5 race in Panama City Beach, Fla., which may seem far away. But when you’re preparing to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run 26.2 miles, you can never start training too soon. (This is me shouting out my goal; now you need to hold me accountable!)
Prepping for an IRONMAN is mainly about hard work, determination, nutrition and mental toughness. At this stage I’m working out six or seven days a week. I’m doing two one-hour runs, two one-hour swims, and a two- or three-hour bike ride each week. I’m also focusing on eating a healthy, whole foods diet. The Sunlighten chef, Debz Buller, offers plenty of nutritional tips for healthy foods and juicing. Getting enough sleep each night is also essential.
But like the IRONMAN website says, successful training isn’t “all or nothing.” With my busy schedule, I know there’ll be days when it’s hard to get everything in. My goal is to do the best I can each day and accept those days when I can’t stick exactly to my training plan. After all, my wife and boys are the most important parts of my life, and some days they are going to take priority over my workout.
Keeping My Muscles Healthy
It goes without saying that training for an IRONMAN will take a toll on my body. Really, almost any kind of physical activity can cause “microtrauma,” which are tiny tears in the muscle fibers. Fortunately, I have a tool in my basement that speeds up muscle recovery and increases flexibility: a Sunlighten 3-in-1 infrared sauna.
The sauna is an important part of my training because infrared sauna heat penetrates joints, muscles and tissues, increasing circulation and speeding oxygen flow. In fact, a 2013 study conducted at the Auburn University at Montgomery showed that stretching in a full-spectrum sauna using mid and far infrared wavelengths compared to a regular training room environment increased flexibility up to three times!
According to Dr. Rhonda Patrick, this type of heat therapy can promote muscle growth and longevity. The human growth hormone (HGH) is important in preventing muscle loss and atrophy, and higher levels of HGH lead to greater muscle health and strength. Now, I’m not talking about the synthetic version that gets pro athletes in trouble; HGH is actually made naturally in your body by your pituitary gland. And hyperthermic conditioning, or “acclimating yourself to heat independent of aerobic physical activity through sauna use,” promotes higher levels of this hormone in the body.
Sauna treatments also cause higher levels of heat shock proteins (HSPs) to be released into the body. These HSPs help prevent muscle damage, promote muscle regrowth, and may even be linked to increased longevity. Throughout my training, I’ll be paying close attention to recovery after my workouts, and I plan to stretch daily in my Sunlighten 3-in-1 sauna.
Pumped Up for the Finish Line
If all of this IRONMAN talk sounds a little crazy, keep in mind that my first road race was a 5K and then I just got carried away. Your specific fitness goals may not be the same as mine, but we all start somewhere, and the important thing is to keep at it, learning and moving forward day by day. If you’ve never tried a race, I would definitely encourage it! It’s really not as scary as it might sound. Check out this great article about how to train for your first 5K. It’s a tremendous feeling crossing that finish line!
And if you’re not a runner, it doesn’t have to be a race; just set a goal and go after it! Don’t let others dictate what you can or can’t do. Only you know what you’re truly capable of!
I look forward to sharing my journey along the way. Stay tuned!