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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Best Core Workouts

A strong core helps you move and perform better in all aspects of life, from carrying groceries to going on a multi-day hike. Here are the best workouts to help keep your core strong

Your core is the foundation for all physical movement and stabilization in your body, helping you move and perform better in all aspects of life—from carrying groceries, doing chores and playing with your kids to running, swimming and hiking—so it’s important to keep it strong. Your core, which is made up of all the muscles in your torso such as your obliques, abdominals, erector spinae and glutes, only moves in four variations or combinations of the following basic movement patterns: flexion (curling your torso in), extension (bending your torso back), rotation (twisting your torso) and lateral flexion (contracting the side of your torso). Here are some of the best core workouts you can do that incorporate each of these planes of movements to help keep you moving and performing at your best.  Jackknife (single plane, trunk flexion) – Lie on your back on a yoga mat with your arms and legs extended. Engage your core by pulling your belly button in to your spine and raising your legs up off the mat while bringing your arms over head and reaching out in front towards your toes. Hold for a count of three before lowering back down to the mat before repeating the move 8 to 12 times. Bird Dog (single plane, trunk extension) – Get on all fours on your mat with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Keeping your head down and aligned with your spine, reach your right arm up out in front of you while simultaneously extending your left leg back behind you, using your core to stabilize your body and ensuring your hips and shoulders are parallel to the floor. Hold for three seconds before lowering your limbs back down and extending your arm and leg on the opposite side, alternating for 8 to 12 reps. Russian Twist (single plane, trunk rotation) – Grab a light dumbbell or medicine ball and sit on your mat with your legs out in front of you, knees bent and your feet placed on the mat. Engage your core and lean back slightly, either keeping your feet on the mat or raising them off the mat slightly for a more challenging exercise. Hold the dumbbell out in front of you, and twist slowly from side to side, alternating for 8 to 12 reps. Side Plank (static/isometric, trunk lateral flexion) – Lying on one side on your mat, engage your core as you place one elbow or hand directly under your shoulder while stacking your feet so you’re propped up on your side, keeping your spine in a straight line from your head to your feet. Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds before switching sides.