Mette Harrison
6 min readOct 12, 2021


How to Do Your First Ironman — Part Two

I’ve completed ten Ironman distance races now (DNF’d at one, as well) and while I’m not a professional, I consider myself an experienced amateur and therefore perhaps even better situated to help talk through how to do your first Ironman than professionals who may be in better shape than most first-time amateurs. This is a series of three essays. I talked in the first essay about gear that you may need to buy for your first Ironman. This essay is about how to prepare to do your first Ironman in training. Here are some areas you should think about while in training for this incredible goal.

1. Weekends

2. Five-month plan

3. Eating

4. Swimming

5. Preparing family members

6. Slow pace

7. Managing expectations

8. Cheer squad

9. Budgeting

10. Tapering

First, weekends are going to be when you probably do most of your training. Weekends are not going to feel like weekends anymore. You are going to be your most tired on the weekend and you’re going to need to prepare for this. You may need to get laundry and other chores done during the week. Make sure you have nutritious, easy to prepare food (possibly frozen) to eat after long workouts when you’re too tired to move much. Don’t expect you’ll want to go out for fun activities after an 8 hour bike. You will also probably be sleeping a lot more. Plan around this.

Second, make sure that you pick an Ironman that will allow a five-month build up and that you don’t have big work stuff going on, at least as much as you can possibly plan such a thing. Talk to your boss and coworkers about your race plans if this is your first one. Hopefully they will be supportive and be a little more flexible about work hours during the weekday, as well.

Third, your eating is going to change while you’re in training. Most people don’t lose a lot of weight while training for an Ironman. If this surprises you, consider the reality that your body is going to experience considerable shock as you ramp up, and often the response to that shock is for your body to signal to you that it is going to die, and that you need to eat chocolate cake and fried, battered shrimp…



Mette Harrison

Autist, Ironman Worlds triathlete, Writer, Right-Brained