Before you answer this question you will need to consider and reflect on the following:
EXCITED AND COMMITTED – Close your eyes and imagine yourself crossing the Ironman finishing line on the 15th July 2018. Do you feel excited as you receive your medal? If so, can you commit to all the hard work this will entail, especially during the dark, wet, winter mornings?
FAMILY, FRIENDS AND WORK – The Ironman event will be the easy part. Your biggest challenge will be balancing your commitments to your family, work and friends. You will need to share your dream with your loved ones and get the green light for the hours of training you will need to do. If this is your first Ironman you will be training at least seven hours a week in the autumn and winter months which will increase to anything between 8 – 16 hours a week in the twenty four weeks leading up to the tapering period before the event.
WORKING ON YOUR WEAKNESSES – Yes, it is possible to do an Ironman if you can’t swim but only if you are committed to working hard in mastery it and you begin at least ten months before the event. This doesn’t mean you have to be a great swimmer but rather an efficient swimmer. You will need a good coach who will teach you the fundamentals, which you will then need to reinforce at least twice each week.
BASE WORK – You will need to build your base fitness gradually (10% rule) in all three disciplines with the addition of strength and condition to both prevent injuries and add strength to your core muscles.
JOIN A CLUB THAT YOU FEEL AT HOME IN – Joining a club makes it so much easier to stick to your plan. Knowing there are others with you on those winter morning runs it much easier than being by yourself. Having others with you is not only a lot more fun but the miles melt away.
HAVE ACCESS TO A GYM OR AT LEAST A TURBO – You will need to do regular bike threshold sessions (the jargon will become second nature when you get into the training) to improve your bike fitness and speed on the road.
CONSISTENCY IS THE KEY TO YOUR SUCCESS – Consistency will be your road to success. Have a weekly consistent plan which fits around your family and work commitments. For example, Sundays – Long zone 2 easy pace ride, Mondays – 1 hour swim, Tuesdays – 1hour run effort session, Wednesdays rest, Thursdays – Strength and Conditioning, Friday rest, Saturday – Early morning swim and turbo session.
BE POSITIVE – Always focus on what you have achieved no matter how small the steps are. Just getting out for a run in the rain when you would rather watch tv is a success. Keep a log of your daily progress because you will forget how far you have come.
BE POSITIVE IF YOU HAVE AN INJURY – If you’re unfortunate to get an injury focus on what you can do during recovery. For example, if you have a knee problem from running come off the running and spend more time and intensity on the cycling and swimming with the advice of a good physio who can liaise with your coach.
MAKE EVERY SESSION COUNT – This does not mean you are pushing yourself 100 % all the time but rather you are training to a plan. For example – Your long zone 2 cycle is a talking pace session for four hours and not an eye balls out one. Whereas your one hour turbo session is a 10/10 effort with short bouts of recoveries built in.
BE PREPARED TO SPEND MONEY BUT NOT TOO MUCH – Unless you are a professional or an age grouper wanting a GB place you don’t need to spend more than £1000 on a road bike which is still a lot of money. You will then find yourself spending more on – swimming sessions, running shoes, cycling kit, winter tyres, water poof running and cycling tops, cleats, etc, etc. And to top it all, your food bill will increase with more carbs and protein needed to both fuel your many miles and recover from them.
SPORTS MASSAGE – As the miles pile up after Christmas you may want to consider having a sport massage once a month, as a preventative measure against injuries.
KEEP A BALANCE – Unless your mortgage depends on it, you can still treat yourself to the weekend drink, cake and fun with family and friends.
SLEEP – Quality sleep of at least seven and half hours a night is extremely important for your recovery. By quality, I mean no mobile in your bedroom, no light from the gadgets, turn off the computer an hour before going to bed, keep the bedroom cool, stop the caffeine intake after mid-day.
PROTEIN – Have a quality protein drink within thirty minutes of your training session for quicker recovery for the next day. A mug of milk and a banana will be perfect.
DON’T BE AN IRONMAN BORE WITH YOUR COLLEAGUES AND FRIENDS WHO DON’T TRAIN – Let your friends ask you about it rather that saying to them, “I only managed a one mile swim and a six miles run on Saturday and a fifty mile cycle on Sunday.” Only those you train with will understand that you are not showing off but rather, sharing what you have done.
WARNING – If you choose to take on this mission, you will discover that you are capable of things way beyond your wildest dreams. In addition, you will become more positive, confident, stronger and fitter. However, the biggest payoff will be that you will make a lot of new lifelong friends, who will make you laugh and not take yourself too seriously.
SO, CAN YOU DO AN IRONMAN?