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Hacks from an IRONMAN Six Pack

12 Dec 2016
by Angela Nelms

By Angela Nelms

Through my IRONMAN Six Pack journey I have figured out quite a few triathlon hacks. I realized that many of you do not know these “secrets” – time to release the recipes!

 It’s All in The Bag:

Did you know that Ziplocs come in lots of sizes!  Since they are clear you can easily check, recheck, rerecheck, … as many times as you want, by simply rolling them around in your hand or by opening them and closing them over and over and over.

  • Big Bags:
    Via Amazon Prime you can order 3-gallon size bags and have them delivered to your home while you are out training. This size is perfect to make up all of your race bags ahead of time. In fact, I leave my stuff in them and then place them inside the IRONMAN bags so I don’t have to worry about rain or tying (and untying, in a hurry, in transition, when I am truly racing) the IRONMAN strings.
  • Sandwich and Snack Sizes: Forget trying to tear open that gu, energy bar, twizzler pack (no judging!) while biking or running. Instead make up some baggies and put your snacks in them. They are super easy to open with one hand and your teeth and equally easy to close back up. I even use these to group together my lube, chapstick, morning goggles/fog wipe/Imodium/ear plugs, and travel sunscreen into packets that I can grab and quickly stuff into my jersey/tri top to rock out some quick transition times.
  • Tiny Pill Bags: CVS, Rite Aid, and various other drug stores carry the tiny pill bags. I use these to pack my protein salty balls, Imodium, and other tiny snacks.

Slick Tricks, Lubes, and Powder Power:

Blisters, chafing, and saddle sores are sure fire ways to make your life pre and post race miserable. Some of the best preventative methods I have found are:

  • TriSlide: Many people use this for wetsuits but forget it is AMAZING for preventing chafing in lots of random spots (think bra lines, trishort waistlines, necklines). Another added benefit for those who change clothes…your bike/tri shorts will slide right on your sweaty body if you spray your legs with
  • Lubes: Include travel size tubes of Aquaphor in your baggies described above. This way when you are out on the run and notice a rub you don’t have to wait for the next nasty jar of Vaseline everyone else is dipping into. My friend Susie squeezes some of her favorite chamois cream into a Ziploc and then when she needs to use it she opens it, turns it inside out with her hand, applies it…without getting any on her hands.  Brilliant I say!
  • Gold Bond Powder: Pour this into your cycle and running shoes and socks ahead of time to absorb moisture and prevent blisters.

Stand Out from The Crowd:

Decorate your IRONMAN bags with brightly colored Duct Tape, motivational words, and gift wrap ribbon so that when you enter transition YOUR bag will stand out in the sea of a few thousand identical bags. It helps for bag pickup as well.

Eliminate Clothing Malfunctions:

Everyone needs a friend willing to check out their “assets” while riding a bike/running to let them know if it is a bit too visible.  Secure your timing chip with a safety pin. Tuck your tri top into your shorts to eliminate the annoying creep. If your socks have true right and left versions place them into the correct shoe ahead of time.

Mental Super Power – Activate:

Create your own motivation by writing your personal mantra words on your nutrition bags, gear bags, hands, arms, legs, and tattoo them in your mind. I said words, not word. Each race is different and what speaks to you and your circumstances will vary too. On the race I messed up my bike nutrition the song, “Cups” played over and over in my head (look up the lyrics) – I laughed. When my beautiful IM MT course was stormy, cold, and no fun at all I told myself, “I do NOT quit”. During a gorgeous IM FL run I sang, “It’s a beautiful day” and “Six pack or bust” (it was my 6th IM and those were Sherpa Susie’s parting words). The point is YOU should not depend on your love ones, Sherpa, or the crowd to motivate you.  Do it yourself! You are an IRONMAN after all!


This is the kingpin of hacks. When in doubt – smile. When scared – smile. When tired – smile. When you see a camera – SMILE.

This was fun! Good luck on your IRONMAN journey – expert hacker!

Angela smiling at the end of her IM  pack journey. 

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