The Ironman. It’s not something to take lightly. After all, it’s basically a really long triathlon and considered one of the hardest one-day races around. Whilst most people would be hard pressed to sign up for a half marathon, the Ironman consists of not only a full marathon (26.2 miles), but a 2.4 mile swim and a 112 mile bike ride. And no, we’re not talking about a fun ride down in the New Forest. There’s no picnics on this ride.
So if you’re the type of person who acts first and thinks later, you really need to read this first. We spoke with Fiona Love, triathlete, multi-marathon runner and twice Ironman competitor, about the 10 things to remember before you sign up for an Ironman – it’s not something you launch yourself into lightly. And I should know – as a friend of hers, I’ve heard about her gruelling 2 hour swims before a 5 hour bike ride, followed by a little marathon (just for fun) the day after. Time in the pub is replaced with sprints and the only heavy drinking sessions are around electrolyte hydration rather than social occasions. Oh, and I saw her feet after. There’s no such thing as pretty feet after an Ironman.
So here’s Fiona’s tips for things to think about before you sign up to that Ironman
- Remember, it’s a long way – not just on the day, but in terms of the training journey itself. If you’re faint of heart or don’t have the commitment, you may want to rethink.
- Your friends may start to wonder what you look like. That’s right, it’ll be months before you see them properly with all the training that’s necessary.
- Get a training plan. This is most important as it provides structure and gives you a sense of achievement and progress when you’re able to tick off each session.*
- Will you have enough time to sleep?! It sounds silly but good sleep is really important for recovery and will not only be good for you mentally but physically too. You don’t want to be a zombie by the end of it!
- Make training fun – is there someone you can train with doing one too? Failing that, find a bunch of friends to train with or sign up to a running, swimming or cycling club to keep you motivated.
- If you’re starting an Ironman without having doing one before, or any other forms of endurance races, don’t push it too soon. Slow and steady will get you the best results and prevent injuries.
- Love it. If you don’t, it’ll become a chore as you’ll only start to hate the daily grind of training. It will become your life for several months.
- Can you afford it? As well as race entry, there’s a lot of equipment that’s essential including a good bike, wetsuit, running shoes and so much more. You’ll also need somewhere to store all this stuff too… got a spare room you can keep it in?
- Learn how to be happy in your own company – you’ll need it in the twelve hours or so you’re on the race course. And for all those lonely mornings and evenings training on your own. Warning: you will start talking to yourself but some of those can be the best conversations!
- Can you say no? Commitment is key to a good Ironman and you certainly won’t be able to stay up until the wee hours partying as the crack of dawn training session is waiting for you instead. If you can’t say no, you’ll need to become super organized as you’ll be fitting your training around work, friends, family, your other half, pet etc.