How to rock an ironman. Train, sweat and tears.

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Mallory Chapman, owner of and instructor at Studio Revolution Fitness in Calgary decided to crush an Ironman - #woah. We were so inspired and curious about her journey from her decision to race to completion of the race that we had to get the inside scoop, straight from the source.

Mallory Chapman // Ironman Finish // HEMM Blog

So you just rocked an Ironman 30 minutes under your goal, smiling at the finish line and in your words "feeling stronger than ever". Start from the beginning, what made you decide to partake in a sweaty competition for 6 hours straight?

I’m turning 30 in November and had a moment of vulnerability where I felt like I hadn’t accomplished enough in my life…. I wanted more and needed to be pushed way past my comfort zone and truly feel what that was like, after all I preach those words in my classes everyday so I thought I better get practicing. Starting my life over when I was 17 in a new city, working with a high risk population in our prison system as a counselor then moving on to opening up the first SURFSET fitness studio in all of Alberta just didn’t feel like enough (hahaha). I got home from teaching fitness in Panama at a surf retreat and the next thing I know I am sharing my screenshot of the 70.3 Ironman Calgary sign up confirmation on Instagram.

So you made the commitment, what came next?

I reached out to an Ironman champ in the city to help me build a plan, given her hectic schedule she referred me first to an online training site called trainingpeaks.com. Mistake number one, don’t settle for a non-personalized program for your first Ironman. It’s an easy cop out to justify not spending the money hiring a professional when these plans are all available at the click of a button online. 8 weeks into the training program with an average of 18-21 training hours a week between the bike/run/swim (not including teaching at Studio Revolution Fitness) my body felt incredibly broken, my motivation crushed, my mind barely functioning, and I was exhausted. Essentially I was showing all the classic signs of over training. I found my lifesaver and coach, Shawna Curry from Lifestyle Strategy Coaching. Shawna looked at my program and laughed, she told me to take a rest week and cut back to 10-14 hours a week of quality training in all three components of Ironman.

I went from dreading getting up early every morning to train to actually looking forward to heading out on the bike to explore for 4+ hours. Without her, I am almost positive I would have quit or gotten injured. Running my own business, trying to expand it, being a wife, a friend, a daughter, a sister, an aunt… the list goes on and I was suffering. With the revamped program I found the balance that worked for me. The great thing about Shawna is not only her expertise in triathlon coaching but life and lifestyle coaching as well. Ironman is a big mental game; throughout the 12 weeks Shawna and I officially worked together and she was not only shaping my physical health but strengthening my mental health as well.

Can you give us a couple of sample weeks from your training schedule?

Week 1 with trainingpeaks.com

Total Training Hours (not including teaching): 15.5 hours

Monday:

  • Bike 1 hour
  • Teach 2 hours of high impact fitness on the SURFSET boards

Tuesday:

  • Teach 45 minutes of high impact fitness on the SURFSET boards
  • 1 hour strength session
  • Swim: 30 minutes
  • Tempo run: 45 minutes

Wednesday:

  • Swim: drills 30 minutes
  • Run: 1 hour
  • Bike: 1.5 hours

Thursday:

  • Teach 45 minutes of high impact fitness on the SURFSET boards
  • 1 hour Bike
  • Run: hills 45 minutes
  • Swim: 30 minutes

Friday:

  • Short run: 30 minutes
  • Bike: 1 hour

Saturday:

  • Swim: 1 hour, form focus
  • Bike: 1.5 hours
  • Long run: 1.5 hours

Sunday:

  • Slow easy bike to flush the legs: 1 hour

Week 18 Before Tapering (with Shawna Curry)

Total Training Hours (not including teaching): 12 hours

Monday:

  • Swim: 1900 meters
  • Teach 2 x 45 minute high impact SURFSET classes

Tuesday:

  • Teach 1 x 45 minute high impact SURFSET class
  • Run (include hills): 45 minutes

Wednesday:

  • Bike: 40 km (with hills)
  • Swim: short fast, focus on technique - 30 minutes
  • Surfilates (pilates on the surf board)

Thursday:

  • Run: 21 km

Friday:

  • 45 minute strength workout at Studio Revolution Fitness (TRX or Ripped Tide)

Saturday:

  • Brick workout: bike 90 km and run 10 km

Sunday:

  • Off

How did you stay on track when things got tough - and what things "got tough"?

There was a moment before I met my coach where I was totally broken. I felt like I was failing myself, failing my business, failing my team, failing as a wife…. Just all around terrible. I took the dog out for a walk with my husband and just started crying in the park, I told him I was just going to quit and say F#@! It! My husband reminded me why I committed in the first place and how much I would regret quitting almost half way through my training. I went to my studio, sat on my surfboard and looked at the wall labeled with a quote that’s kept me going through the toughest of times… “When you think about quitting, remember why you started”.

During the training process, the biggest challenge was trying to find time to commit to my training schedule while still being a #bosslady and more. The hardest part was letting go if I couldn’t commit to a training day because something came up that was more important and there were lots of times where I had to move things around and switch days or commitments.

Mallory Chapman // Ironman Lakeside // HEMM Blog

Just before the race, I was told to do a lot of visualization work, practice affirmations, and just be the most positive I could be. Shawna challenged me to embrace the experience in the race and be present. These tactics were total game changers. I had been experiencing a lot of hip and knee pain during my training and instead of letting it get to me I kept saying “my knee feels good, my hip feels good, I am strong, I am light, I am fast” on repeat in my mind over and over when I started to feel those little aches and pains. The Ironman truly felt like I had been meditating in movement for 6:05. The only other time I had felt that present and in the moment was my wedding day…. It was nuts.

The toughest part in the race was the run… it was blistering hot, 30 degrees, and I was running at the peak of the heat between 11am -1pm. About 4 km into the run, one of my friends ran beside me for a few hundred meters and said “when it gets hard, and it will Mal, remember you OWE this to yourself, you’ve worked this hard to get to where you are and you’re not going to quit, you owe this to yourself, you deserve this win”. I got out of my head and embraced what Raf said, I finished sprinting across the finish line with a huge smile on my face and the biggest rush I’ve felt.

What did you learn about yourself through the process and upon completion of the race?

  • Let it go. The energy you spend on being mad or frustrated about not keeping your training schedule or blowing a tire out is not worth it. Learn to laugh about it, let it go and move on. At the end of the day you can’t change what has happened you can only change how you react to the situation.
  • When taking on a massive commitment, focus on little milestones not the big picture. During the training process and the race I had to focus on the bite sized chunks not on the big picture otherwise the undertaking would overwhelm me. Tell yourself “okay, all I need to do is get to ‘X’ when you get there tell yourself your next milestone.
  • Mind over matter. Your mindset will make or break you. Positively affirm what you’re doing, who you are and the reason why. If you let any negative self talk in you’ll fall apart.
  • I’m worth it. Accepting myself, accepting that I deserve to feel the accomplishment and success. The 20 weeks, 60 hours of training a month, all the sacrifices, it was all worth it!
  • Honor and respect your body. Pace is everything. Know when you need to slow down and take a step back and when it’s time to push.
  • Create your legacy now and everyday. Don’t look back on your life’s accomplishments to create your legacy it’s right in front of you.

What is one thing you wish you knew before crossing the start-line?

I can’t think of anything, I felt super prepared ha! Maybe wear underwear… the chafing is real!

Give us one of your favorite motivational quotes:

“When I stopped living in the world of I can’t, I did it…. Everything became I can”.

Want more Mallory? You can find her at Studio Revolution Fitness in YYC.

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