How Does Heather Jackson Prepare for the Ironman World Championship?

“USA’s hope for the Kona crown”

In the Championship issue, Triathlete Magazine named Heather Jackson a top pick for winning the Ironman World Championship. In 2016, Heather Jackson took 3rd in the female category. This year she’s ready to break the tape in Kona. We talked with Heather to learn her preparation strategies for big events like the Ironman World Championship.

Preparing for the Ironman World Championship

  1. Physical Preparation

Leading up to a big race, Heather trains as hard as she can week after week. Once the race gets closer, she starts to taper off her efforts. For Ironman distances, she starts to taper off her efforts and workouts 2 weeks out. During this time, Heather focuses on resting, recovering, prepping her body, and prepping her mind.

With triathlon, athletes are trying to be the best at three different sports. Throughout the season triathletes will often develop one sport more than the others and shift their focus regularly. For Heather, the bike has always been her strongest discipline. So during the off-season, Heather focused a lot on improving her swim and run. Given all the training she has put in, Heather believes that dropping some time in those two areas is doable. Now, it’s just a matter of executing and figuring out what it takes to make it happen in Kona.

  1. Mental Preparation

Heather does a lot of mental preparation before races, especially one as big as the Ironman World Championship. Often times, she will lie down and run through any given situation that could happen in the race. It’s important to visualize the perfect race. She pictures exactly what she wants to happen, from who she gets out of the water with to certain girls she wants to pass on the bike to crossing the finish tape first.

Along with picturing the best case scenario, Heather also mentally prepares for anything that can go wrong. For example, if Heather ends up getting out of the water last, she has a game plan for what she has to do on the bike to get back on track. No matter what happens, she keeps pushing and has a strategy for overcoming any challenge.

Superior physical and mental skills are two traits that all top athletes possess. To be the best, you have to have the physical capabilities to perform well but also have a high level of mental toughness to keep you pushing and help you overcome challenges. Even if you aren’t hoping to win the Ironman World Championship, Heather’s strategies can still help you prepare for your own Ironman race and reach your own goals.