5 things you should know before your first Ironman

When is the right time for triathlete to sign up and doing/competing his/her firts Ironman, or should I rather say Full distance triathlon? Well, it depends on who you ask...

Many athletes are signing up for Ironman (I'll use this word) because they want to prove themselves that they're tough enough to complete 3,8km swim - 180km bike - 42,2km run.

These people are likely to finish the race and then dissapear from the world of triathlon. But what about others?

Some of them are doing shorter distances for years, someone decades, before they decided to do their first full. And I can tell you from my experience, that this people, who are in triathlon for many years are far more scared when they hear about "Ironman".

What should everyone know before signing up for first Ironman?

What can I tell you from my own experiences?

I'm getting more and more questions from people, who want to set a personal challenge of completing an Ironman and I will list you 5 things, that I think you should consider before you'll complete registration for your first Ironman.

IM Mallorca finish line in construction;)

IM Mallorca finish line in construction;)

TIME 

Time is the most precious thing in life, remember that. If you master your time, you'll master your life.

With Ironman on the radar, you are going to spend a lot of time training outside, because completing an Ironman is a total different beast than completing your first marathon or oly distance triathlon.

Ask yourself, do I have timefor at least one 4-5h long bike session a week and one 2h run? Can I afford myself to spend minimum 15h of netto training/week.Commuting to the swimming pool is not included into this equation, or driving to the local track.

If you have a family, make sure they won't suffer from "your training for Ironman". What kind a job do I have? Do I have enough time for proper IM training?

Now, that you got through this, in my opinion the most important thing, lets go to the second thing you should consider about.

MONEY 

You're gonna need quite a lot of it, especially if you're new to triathlon with a goal to finish the distance and then disappear from this beautiful sport.

If you are a veteran with lots of shorter distance triathlon finishes under your belt, then I assume that you have all equipment needed for a race and you just have to pay an entry fee, travel & accommodation.

Yes, traveling and accommodation might be very expensive. Most of us don't have the luxury of having a full-distance race in our backyard, don't we?

For example, if I decided to do the Ironman in Mallorca this September, how much money do you think I would need?

  • Entry fee: 550€ 
  • Flight from Graz: 250€
  • Apartment + Food + Shuttle from the apartment: 150€

You see, close to 1000€ minimum and I have all equipment I need for racing.

Triathlon is very expensive, so ask yourself, can I afford this right away or should I save money which I would spend on racing IM? Local long distance race might be a great solution to save a little bit of money, but as I can see, even they're pricing their events from 300€ up.

Challenge Denmark; beatiful course,  nice country+nice people
Challenge Denmark; beautiful course, nice country + nice people

 

SOCIAL LIFE 

Athlete, training for Ironman is almost without a social life in the last few months leading into the event.

Your weekend will be filled with training and when you won't train, you'll rest, because your body will scream for lying in bed after your six-hour Saturday ride.

You won't be able to discuss anything else with your friends but your training session and what you're eating to recover faster, so you could fit in an extra running session.

You don't have to agree with me, but you'll still be wrong. Training for Ironman will change your mind, the way you think and also the groups of people that you normally hang out with. No matter how hard you will try to prevent yourself from that ;)

TRAINING 

Are you mentally and physically tough enough to go through the training plan for Ironman?

Don't forget, you're going to swim 3,8 km. But this is the easiest part! Then, you're going to sit on a bike for 180 km and on top of that, you're going to run a full marathon.

You have to expect, that there is 0% chance that the race will go according to your race plan. Therefore, you have to improvise with your training sometimes.

Is your body ready for training? Are your muscles ready? Is your mind ready, to think for 6 months or even more (because you will probably have to sign up for the race 1 year in advance) just about the race? 

Pro tip:  Set yourself small, realistic goals, which you'll accomplish during your training for Ironman. Therefore, you'll spend less time thinking about the IM race itself.

YOU'RE GOING TO HURT YOURSELF

 jap, that's the reality when it comes to endurance racing. No matter if you're doing an ultrarun race or Ironman triathlon, your body is going to be crushed after you will cross the finish line. Swollen ankles, black toenails, pain in calves, backpain...that's all in Ironman finish package :D

If you think, that you'll be able to normally walk next day or should I better say next week, you are very wrong my friend;)

4 black toenails after my first "full" in Mallorca, 2014
4 black toenails after my first "full" in Mallorca, 2014

I don't want to scare you. Speaking for myself, racing an Ironman is what gives me goosebumps and I hope that I'll be able to do one Long distance race a year until I "grow old". It's something about the vibe of this kind of event that keeps me motivated for pursuing my goals higher and higher.

I hope that you learned something new today. Triathlon was and will stay one of the most beautiful sports on the planet Earth:) Now go out and start training!!

Blaz Brecko

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