Training for an ironman distance triathlon takes both muscular endurance, strength, speed and power. Focusing only on endurance without addressing the other areas will allow you to finish the race, but you won’t post any personal bests and I would venture to say that you are robbing yourself of potential speed. The most common pitfall I see is an over emphasis on volume at the expense of the shorter, faster, and higher intensity workouts. Volume has it’s place, but don’t neglect the shorter focused efforts in the form of intervals and threshold work. A little speed and power will carry you far in the sport of Ironman triathlon. Another factor each athlete must consider is their respective strength in cycling and running. . Triathletes who are strong runners can back off of their running workouts a bit a focus a little more on the bike. Likewise, a strong cyclist can back off of the bike and focus more on the run, specifically learning how to efficiently run coming off of the bike.
Nutrition and hydration also play an increasingly important role in ironman distance racing. Research supports the principle of keeping your hydration and calories separate. Trying to get in calories in liquid form requires you to drink liquids at too high of a carbohydrate solution, which leads to gastro-intestinal distress. Another potential problem is that your calories are tied to your hydration, which makes it difficult to hydrate more in hot conditions without consuming too many calories. Your calories should come from food that is not overly processed. Try and avoid taking in too many gels as this creates a gut bomb. Most athletes do well using a combination of solid and semi solid calorie sources. Take a look at just about any Ironman triathlon and you’ll see that so many athletes struggle with their race day nutrition. Take the time to focus on your Ironman nutrition as you do your Ironman training.