Since signing up for Ironman Florida this past spring, I've asked pretty much everyone and their dog for advice, and while I really appreciate all the words of wisdom, my favorite pep talk so far came when I got the amazing opportunity to sit and chat with two awesome athletes, Mirinda Carfrae and Timothy O'Donnell (seen with me in the photo at left).
They're both Ironman champs—Carfrae claimed the World Champion title in 2010 and 2013, and O'Donnell has won numerous Ironman and 70.3 races. Plus they just happen to be husband and wife (talk about a power couple). I asked a ton of questions and soaked up all their endurance-sport knowledge. Here are a few great tips they shared:
1. Create a meal plan. "Find a nutrition routine that works for you and practice it several times before the big day," says Carfrae. "Mine starts two days before the race; I keep the meals consistent so I know I'm eating enough but not too much. That way, I know I'm at least going to start the race in great shape."
2. Drink your snacks. "Chewing while you race can be tricky, so I've found that I'm better off getting calories from a drink like Carbo-Pro," she suggests.
3. Suit up often. "When they put on the wetsuit, a lot of people feel the constriction on their chest and panic," says O'Donnell. "So swim with your wetsuit in training at least once a week, even in the pool."
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4. Pick a meaningful mantra. "I was a Navy guy," says O'Donnell, "so I say, 'Don't give up the ship.' That's my little reminder to keep pushing on."
5. Keep calm and carry on. "Remember that it's okay to stop if you're feeling overwhelmed," says Carfrae. "Take a moment, get your breathing under control, and then start going again."