Can I do an Ironman?
Are you wondering if you are ready for an Ironman? It is a big challenge, and it is not a decision to take lightly. Signing up for an Ironman is a very large time and even money commitment. Before you pull the trigger on registering for that race, read some of these tips to help you decide if you are ready for an Ironman.
Be Realistic About Your Fitness Level
An Ironman is swimming 2.4 miles in open water, biking 112 miles and running a full 26.2 mile marathon. In less than 17 hours. There is definitely something intriguing about this type of challenge, no doubt. But, it is no joke, either. Be honest with yourself about where your fitness level currently is, and how long you would have to prepare for the race. If the Ironman is in 3 months, and you haven’t been to the pool in 10 years, or ran more than a 5k, it might be smart to hold off for another year. Make sure your health and fitness are in a good spot to start the training. It isn’t a bad idea to get a check up with your doc as well, especially if it has been a while.
Do at Least One Year of Shorter Distance Races
Continuing with the first point, it is really important to have current fitness and experience in triathlon. If you have never done a triathlon before, or if it has been a few years, make your Ironman plans a two year goal or more. Allow yourself to focus on each sport, as well as putting them all together, in shorter distances first. It will help you understand where you may need to focus more time on, and will also help you get through your Ironman training injury free. Jumping from couch to Ironman is a good recipe for injury disaster, which is not the point of taking on this challenge!
Respect the Distance
It is not uncommon to hear someone talk about signing up for an Ironman who has never done a triathlon in their life, let alone any good exercise program. Ironman is not a walk in the park. It is not impossible to complete an Ironman with little experience or training, but it is also very dangerous to do so. Respect the distance. If you can respect it, you will gain a lot more out of your training sessions, and will have a much better race. If you don’t, you are risking injury, and setting yourself up for a dangerous situation on race day. And not just for you. Inexperience puts all the competitors around you in danger, as well. So respect what you are thinking about getting into. You will get a lot more respect from others if you do.
Make Sure You Are Committed to the Time Needed
Training for an Ironman takes a lot of time. Not just months, but hours a week, and hours a day sometimes. If you have a demanding job that only allows you to train 5 hours a week, you may want to rethink your goals. Everyone is different in how many hours a week they need to train. It can ranges from 10-20, sometimes even more. Long rides are runs are essential for success. You have to ride your bike 112 miles, and still run 26.2 after that. Biking just 2 hours at a time, or running one isn’t going to get you prepared for the race. Make sure you look at your year ahead and see plenty of time you can devote to this. It will be time and life consuming for 4-6 months of your year. Be committed to this time before you sign up.
Be Mentally Prepared
Ironman takes it toll on a person. Mentally, and physically. During the race, and the 4-6 months of training leading up to it. There will be good days and there will be not so good days. And there may be some really not so good days, when you want to throw in the towel and quit. There may be more of those days than you think. In order to get through the months of training, you have to be mentally prepared and strong. The body is capable of amazing things, and can get through the rigors of training much easier than the mind can. The training is never going to go exactly as planned, and it is impossible to predict how you are going to get through each day. But, having a strong mental game going into training is going to get you through a lot of it.