I have said it before and I will say it again, training for an Ironman is harder than the race itself. Now, I know I have a whopping 1 Ironman under my belt with my second, Rev3 Cedar Point, just 3 weeks away, but I am a big believer that anyone can complete an iron distance race with the proper training. That’s the hard part. The proper training.
If you spend any time on the triathlon forums like Beginner Triathlete, you will see the following question posed:
“I just completed my first Sprint Tri and now I want to sign up for an Ironman, is it too soon?”
These threads get heated between triathletes that have an “earn your stripes” mentality that don’t understand the need to rush to race long versus the triathletes who are dream chasers. I tend to side more with the dream chasers, but that was my path.
My advice and caution to anyone considering racing long is simple – to race long, you have to train long. You have to toe the line.
Even to “just finish” the race, the training for an iron distance race requires a time commitment in the form of training. There are exceptions to every rule, like the uber athletes that are natural swimmers, bikers and/or runners and who can neglect one discipline or another to save time in training and who only want to “finish” the race. However, for us mere mortals, training is waking up early 5+ days a week, hours on end in our bike seats and running holes in our new running shoes. It is toeing the line, even when you don’t feel like it / would rather sleep in / [enter excuse here].
So, what is my answer to the above question?
Chase your dreams, whatever they are, but make a commitment to yourself to toe the line so that you will be successful.
I dreamed of one day doing an Ironman. If you had asked me 4 years ago what I would do if I won the lottery, I would have replied that I would quit my job, move somewhere exotic, hire a full time trainer and train for an Ironman (weird, I know). I just didn’t think it could be done otherwise.
Fast forward to 2008. I put my toe in the water (literally), did some research, picked a Sprint tri and started training. I had to learn to swim properly and I had to buy a bike, but by November of 2008, I had completed Sprint, Olympic and Half Iron distance races, all while working full time, raising two young boys and staying married. It was in toeing the line in training for the HIM that I realized I could chase my dream and I signed up for IMFL 2009, my 30th birthday present to myself.
What I have discovered along the way is that for me, triathlon is a healthy lifestyle and an outlet. It is also a balancing act, one that I am not doing as well with right now. Thankfully, my family is amazing and supportive – two ingredients that are essential if you pursue this journey and are married and/or have children.
Ironman boils down to a simple life lesson that I hope my children are paying attention to – or one that they will see when they are old enough to understand – you can achieve anything you set your mind to …
… if you toe the line.