5 tips for tackling your first Ironman

Most Ironman training plans start off with a manageable load but the dial gets turned up quickly.

As a certified triathlon coach I have been asked numerous times, “Do I have what it takes to do an Ironman?” If completing an Ironman triathlon competition is on your bucket list and you are pondering this same question, consider these five questions:

Do you have the time to properly train? 
Most ironman training plans start off with a very manageable load but the dial gets turned up relatively quickly. You need to allow a minimum of around 14 hours/week to train adequately. This should include at least three swims, three rides, and three runs per week.

Do you have family support? 
If you have a spouse or are in a dedicated relationship and/or have kids, then they must be on your side with regards to training for such a time-consuming event. If they are time-greedy and are likely to make you feel guilty for logging 5 hour + bike rides and 3 hour runs, then you may have a very tough time getting ironman race ready. On the other hand, if they’re supportive of your endeavour then this is truly a promising sign.

Do you have the finances? 
Ironman racing is not cheap. Factor in the costs of equipment (bike, wetsuit, shoes, clothes, accessories etc), race fees (ironman events typically range from around $400 to $700) plus travel and accommodation costs for race week in addition to miscellaneous items such as coaching, training-specific food and drink, bike tubes, tune-ups etc. It all adds up and makes the sport a rather costly one.

Do you have someone/group to train with? 
Ironman is a lonely sport if you’re doing it completely solo. It makes a huge difference if you have a friend or a network of people on your side to train with, bounce ideas off, learn from, and motivate each other along the way. It truly does make the process of getting to the start line so much easier and more enjoyable if you’re preparing with a team.

Do you have the determination and perseverance to see it through? 
Way more important than natural ability, current level of fitness, body shape, or age is the level of sheer determination to make it happen. Ask yourself if the idea of doing an ironman is a fleeting thought or a serious one, worthy of your dedication and commitment? Because if it is, with some advice and lots of support, almost anyone can do an ironman.If ironman truly is a serious dream of yours, consider discussing the possibility with those close to you; your spouse, partner, family, friends, and possibly children.

Ask them for their thoughts and if they share your vision, and would they be willing to support your wholehearted efforts. If they give the green light, look into local triathlon clubs and/or coaches and see what is on offer in your local area.

There are triathlon clubs right across the length and breadth of the country with knowledgeable and experienced athletes in each. Additionally, there is hordes of useful material online including triathlon forums, websites, YouTube clips, training plans, and tidbits of advice on all kinds of tri-related issues.

Completing an ironman is achievable. You can do it, with a bit of help from your family and friends.

For a list of Ironman competitions in Canada go here.

(Image: Facebook, Ironman)


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