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40 things you should know before your first IM

With the European longcourse season in full swing and IMUK less than 10 days away, I thought id share a few things I wish I had known before my First IM.

Pre race week

  1. Race equipment check – full bike service (special attention to tyres, bolts on aero bars and race wheels) check everything you are going to race with.
  2. It’s a good idea to use your full race set up in your last key sessions before the race. (Clothing the lot)
  3. Purchase race day nutrition. Do not leave it to the race venue (could be sold out or not have what you use)

Race Week

  1. Don’t bother with any last minute mega sessions or smash fest’s, save it for the race.
  2. All session now are about sharpening up and saving energy for race day.
  3. Recce the swim start early morning as the sun can be a big factor come race morning. (Decide on tinted or clear lenses)
  4. Recce course and transitions, bike exit/entry (speed humps, obstacles etc)
  5. Saddle hygiene
  6. Feet/toe nail hygiene.
  7. Eat normally – don’t stuff yourself at the pasta party.
  8. Hydrate well during the week, use electrolytes
  9. Regular stretching + massage

Race day

  1. Eat your normal race day breakfast.
  2. Take a mental note of where your bike is in transition.
  3. Apply Vaseline to sensitive areas.
  4. Give yourself plenty of time to get to the swim start.
  5. Final bike check – do not over inflate tyres.
  6. Take a Gel before you get into the water.
  7. Have a good swim WU, get your HR up with a few efforts so the start is not a shock to the system.
  8. Swim start – Position yourself according to your ability, don’t panic if you take a hammering, It will settle down eventually…just try and relax and find some nice feet to follow.
  9. Nearing the end of the swim, think about the swim exit and where your bag/bike are.

T1- Bike

  1. Move through T1 as quick and as practical as you can. Taking to long in T1 or T2 just adds to your day.
  2. Be humble at the start of the bike, stick to your race plan, not the Uber bikers plan, who will be hammering out of T1.
  3. Once you have settled into your race pace, start you nutrition.
  4. Everyone has a different pacing strategy, stick to yours, and remember it’s a long day so the first half of the bike should be Comfortable.
  5. Make sure you eat and drink enough, you should have practiced your nutrition in training. Stick to what has worked in training. To much and you are likely to end up with stomach cramps. To little and you will run out of energy.


  1. Again do not spend anymore time in t2 than you need to.
  2. If you suffer from hot foot, get plenty of Vaseline on before you put your socks on.
  3. A few things you should consider taking with you on the run. Salt pills and pain killers. (elete water is the best thing I have come across for cramping)
  4. If your back is tight after the bike, get some ice on it as you run out. If you have back pockets, get some ice in there. It defo helps.
  5. Coke is your friend, save it to the back half of the run.
  6. Don’t worry if you feel like death starting the run, most people do. Your legs will come back on line soon enough, just try and relax and think positive thoughts.
  1. Start the run at a pace that is sustainable, your legs will still be in cycle mode, for allot of athletes this means they are flying out of T2. This generally ends badly!
  2. It’s a good idea to walk the feed stations if you are not after a PB.
  3. A run walk strategy is a good option if you are not trying to break any records. It often works out quicker if you are a 4hr plus marathoner.
  4. When you are going through a rough patch, Don’t get down on yourself, Try not to think negative thoughts, Just focus on breathing and positive thoughts.

 Finish line

  1. Don’t forget to smile when you cross the finish line.
  2. Try and get some good quality protein on board.
  3. Enjoy the moment, and do thank everyone who has helped you on your journey.
  4. It takes longer to recover from an IM than most people think, be patient when you start back training.

Good luck with it, and remember no matter how bad you are feeling, it will pass and it will be well worth it once you cross the finish line.


Coach Damo