Wanted to share a mail I send last week. A good buddy is contemplating running an Ironman. The longest distance triathlon that starts with a 3,8km swim followed by 180km bike ride and topped off with a marathon. Not for the faint hearted and requires some serious training.
Big plans I see!! My advise…pfff. Personally found the training commitment during the four months leading up to the Ironman tougher than the actual race. Training hard does makes the race more manageable. Do scenic routes and shorter races. Join a club with strong guys, they’ll make you train harder and faster.
I find it important that a first time Ironman athlete has done all the individual distances with a comfortable feeling. I certainly felt stronger having done the long swims, 180k’s bike rides and marathons. Don’t worry about the time, yes quicker is better, but completing with a strong confidence is what I find more important. On race day it’s just a matter of gelling the three disciplines together. Having that strong competent feeling at the start of the worked wonders for me. Than start the race with an open mind, put the goals and objectives in your back pocket. Enjoy the hype, I even took a few minutes before coming out of the water to observe the circus and all the excitement. Race hard but don’t kill yourself on the swim or bike, drink & eat lots on the bike (study the bike course for best timings to eat, avoid eating during long climbs). Don’t get distracted and work on your own running rhythm. My mindset was simple…’it’s just a long (and painful) day but I’ll get through it. It’s just one step in front of the other’.
The distance is all relevant, I shoot a lot of extreme adventure races and triple Ironman competitions. These kind of races make an Ironman distance feel like a walk in the park compared to the distance and pain these guys have to go to. That helped me to digest the distance on race day. We’re done in one day. When I raced Ironman France I was off to shoot the Explore Sweden race three days later, these guys had to cover a 1,000km adventure course. See the comparison?
I raced competitive but not extremely hard. I could have knocked off 30 min or so by staying more focused. But for what, who or why? I enjoyed my racing day from start to finish, had my hard moments but that’s part of the mental mind game. Dig deep and keep on going. ‘Mind over matter’ as they say. Race with a smile.
Key experiences I took out of the race; All the energy! Everyone competes for his or her own reasons and everyone wants to cross the arch at the end. The starting line is the unique, the SILENCE among the athletes, race nerves kicking in, intimidated, and the DJ playing his tunes. And finally crossing the finish line, WOW. You have to cross it to feel it. Still get goosebumps thinking about it.
Man go for it. Train you guts off. Be proud of yourself en kick some arse along the way!!
If you are thinking about doing one, go for it. It’s a serious gig with a serious amount of training but worth every mile. Get a tri coach or seek help online. Remember it’s all in your mind – pull the trigger and get cracking.
Enjoy the journey.