How to train like an ironman

February 6, 2013, 12:00 am Banzai Yahoo!7

Ironman Matt Poole shares how to get - and stay - at the top of your game.

How to train like an ironman
After finishing sixth in last year's series, Mooloolaba ironman Matt Poole made a rocking return to the 2012-2013 Kellogs Nutri-Grain competition, taking out first place in round two at Newscastle Beach. Currently ranked third, the 24-year-old is chasing six-time champ Shannon Eckstein for the top spot, with three grueling races to go. The secret to his comeback performance? Maintaining mental strength. “Moving forward from a negative situation is an important asset in any athlete, especially in our sport where surf plays a huge factor and things may not go your way,” he tells us.

Here, Poole lets us in on his training secrets and how he stays focused on the finish line.

Tell us what’s an ironman training schedule look like?

I train two-to-three a day, six days a week, for 10 months of the year. Depending on the time of year, my sessions vary in intensity and duration. Normally, we swim every morning from Monday to Friday. That’s followed by board and ironman training in the afternoons at the beach from Monday to Saturday, and then either run or gym sessions during the day, with Sundays off. In winter we do allot of long endurance work to build fitness, whilst in summer we focus on shorter sharper sprint work.

Which of your body area do you focus on the most on?

Mostly the upper body, such as the shoulders, chest, back, which we use for swimming, board and ski paddling. We also do a lot of running and strength work on our legs – the soft- sand transitions are super tough.

Any tips for us mere mortals on how to train like an ironman?

Core strengthening exercises are a great way to not only work the oblique and abdominal muscles but to work balance, which we rely on whilst competing. Exercises such as sit-ups, oblique twists and plank holds are great to strengthen the core.

When you’re nearing the end of a race, and your body is burning, what keeps you going?

We train for 10 months of the year for these situations. We mentally train ourselves to endure the pain until the finish line. It's funny how strong the mind is, when you’re leading a race or in front you feel almost invincible to pain and can go all day. I'm a real confidence racer so make a point of getting to the front early in my races.

Is there a quote or saying that keeps you motivated to keep going?

"Blood, sweat and tears are the silent victories at training to make a champion on the battlefield."

Any tips for those of us who need a boost of fitness motivation?

Set yourself realistic goals and if you want to achieve them bad enough, excuses will not get in the way. A fitter and healthier you will always be a happier you.

Endurance or strength – which is more important?

Both are equally important. We rely on endurance as our races last anywhere from 15 minutes to up to two hours. Strength is crucial to move our equipment through the water – our skis weight 18kg and our boards are just over 7kg. We need strength for short sharp explosive bursts of speed when getting through the break.

What foods do you eat while training?

With the amount of training we do, fuelling the body is crucial. I eat a lot of protein and carbs for breakfast, lunch and dinner to repair muscles and rebuild energy levels after hard sessions. I rely on caffeine and energy before sessions. And plenty of fruit and veggies to keep my immune system up to scratch.

Any pre-race rituals?

Music is my switch, when I get down to the beach I always have music going to get me in the zone and shut out all distractions. I have a pre-race half Red Bull, half water drink to spark up the energy levels and concentration, too.

How do you recover between races?

Between races I cannot stomach a whole lot, but remain hydrated and keep up the fluids intake. Recovery is essential in our sport. I use a mix of protein [powder], compression and ice baths to recover the body post race to give myself the best opportunity to freshen up before the next round.

Matt Poole will compete in round four of the Kellogs Nutri-Grain Ironman Series on February 9 on the Gold Coast. For more information visit

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  1. Hổ Báo09:44pm Monday 22nd July 2013 ESTReport Abuse


  2. Glib11:38am Wednesday 06th February 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    Olympic athletes don't have "Sundays off".





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