Unkempt toenails can wreak havoc on a perfectly good pair of socks. Even the nicest sock can fall victim in one round to jagged, unruly hooks. The outside corner of the big toe is the typical culprit. If you cut your nail square, the corners can become razor-like. Most professional, however, caution that rounding the corners or cutting them at an angle may cause the nail to curve in, resulting in painful ingrown nails. I cannot argue against this advice having suffered from a number of ingrown nails, myself. But I can unequivocally state that I’d rather suffer from an ingrown nail, than have holes the corners of my socks.
Both UVA and UVB rays can cause skin cancer but only UVB rays cause sunburn. SPF (Sun Protection Factor) only addresses UVB rays (sunburn potential). A sunscreen labeled “Broad Spectrum” is proven to reflect or absorb both UVA and UVB rays. Bottom line - using a sunscreen offering broad spectrum protection may or may not offer more protection from skin cancer, but it will definitely ensure that you age more gracefully and suffer less from sunburn. I’m wearing it when I’m in the sun for a prolonged period of time. Read this for an interesting take on the merits of sunscreen.
If it’s all Ironman distance events, all of the time, for you - consider racing Sprint and/or Olympic distance events in your early season as a way of developing speed, power, and (a different type of) mental toughness. Then you can bring those assets with you for your Ironman distance specific training and become a faster Ironman as a result. Be a dynamic Ironman athlete!
Budding bike racers out there: pay attention to the direction the wind is coming from and use the other cyclists to shield you from the wind. I know this sounds obvious, but I’m continually amazed by how many experienced cyclists ride on the wrong side of the group when the wind blows from the side. If the wind is blowing from the right, you want to be on the left side of the group - if it’s blowing from the left, you want to be on the right side of the group. If you want cooperation - leave space for cyclists to get a draft off of you (don’t put it in the gutter!). If you DON’T want cooperation and the wind is coming from the left, ride as far to the right as possible (put it in the gutter!).
Most races that feature climbing also feature - wait for it ... descending. Descending is a skill - one that requires minimal energy expenditure compared to what it takes to climb fast or ride fast on flat roads. If you practice your descending skills, you’ll be faster from point A to point B without having to expend much energy. Quite a bargain, right? Practice descending!
I did my first mtb race in the dark this weekend. Fortunately, I received some good tips that I thought I’d pass on. First and foremost, use two lights if possible: one mounted to your handlebar, which will light up what’s directly in front of you, and one on your helmet, which will light up where you’re looking (around the next corner). If you only have one light, opt for the helmet mount. Second, wear clear glasses. Getting something in your eye is never good, but getting something in your eye when it’s dark out will significantly affect your ability to see well enough to ride to your potential. Finally, be present and focused (pay attention!).
Put a little water in your goggles before you swim. As you swim, the water will swish around in your goggles and clear away the fog with minimal annoyance (from the swishing). Anti-fog or dish-washing soap works well too (rub a little in your goggles, pre-swim, rinse, and then swim), but can bother the eyes.
A very good cyclist who was not suited to climbing hills (big and heavy) once told me, “I think of a hill as a flat road that I have to use an easier gear on.” The brain is the key to making the most out of less than ideal circumstances. Think positive thoughts. Successful people are good at this.
When it’s cold outside, I find that cycling booties (cover your entire foot to keep it warm) are overkill unless it’s below 30F AND wet - and my feet are wimpy. Toe covers are basically half of a bootie and keep my feet plenty warm and are much easier to put on before your ride and take off either during or after your ride. Toe covers can easily be put in your jersey pocket on days that cold and/or rain are in the forecast but are not a factor at the start of your ride. Toe covers are by far the best option should you be facing a cold bike ride DURING a race because you can easily get into your cycling shoes with the toe covers already on (very difficult with booties).
If you’ve taken a break from training and are ramping back up - consider adding more runs to your weekly schedule. The cold winter months make it likely that your bike and swim training will be reduced. Use the extra time to sneak in a few more runs. If you typically run 3 days per week (45-60’ per run), aim for 5 or 6 days per week and 20-40’ per run. I feel that doing shorter runs, more often - at least for part of the season - lessens the stress on the legs while allowing you to eventually complete each run at a faster speed than usual due to the shorter duration of your runs. Running more often and at a faster speed, may also be one way to improve your running economy (run farther at a given amount of energy or use less energy to run a given speed).