What are the things to consider before entering an Ironman Race?

Ironman Race
Where once a marathon was deemed a worthy athletic challenge, times have changed and for many this is no longer the case. More and more people are looking for something more, something more challenging, and something to hang their hat on to tell friends, colleagues and the population at large how tough, or crazy they are. This something is often the Ironman Triathlon consisting of a 3,8Km swim, immediately followed by a 180Km cycle, which is immediately followed by a marathon run all in the same day and under seventeen hours. If you have the urge or have ever dreamt of doing one of these races then this article is for you as it will help you with your decision process.

The first thing to consider when looking at doing an Ironman is the question is this really achievable based on my previous and current athletic history and condition? If you are a seasoned and current marathoner or cyclist then it will certainly be more achievable than if you have no prior athletic history and are currently living a mostly sedentary life. If you fall into the later category then it might be better to look at a shorter length triathlon first and then build up through the various race distances ultimately culminating in an Ironman. This is not to say that it is impossible to do an Ironman from a sedentary life however long term health effects along with some reality must be considered.

Secondly, you need to consider your available time. If you have a flexible job and few commitments then this will be less of a concern than if you are married with young children and have a demanding job. When looking at a standard training programme for an Ironman race, it becomes very apparent that it demands a lot of time, especially in the last six months before your race. You should allocate at least one year of consistent training towards this goal with the last six months requiring in the region of twenty hours per week of training. This excludes the travel time taken to get to a training session.

Typically, a weekend in the final few months of training will involve a five to eight hours cycling, at least one ninety minutes swimming, and around a two to three hours run over the course of two days. You should also allow time for a nap or short afternoon sleep each day. Therefore, if you have commitments to take a child to soccer practice or a demanding family life you will need either a supportive spouse or be willing to make major sacrifices. It could actually be argued that the time to train for an Ironman is the most underestimated element considered at time of entry, and also the biggest factor towards success or failure so think carefully about it.

Entering an Ironman race is generally not a cheap thing to do with entry fees running into hundreds of dollars however this is just the tip of the iceberg. For a start, there is equipment costs the most expensive piece being a road or triathlon specific bike. The cost can range from a couple of hundred dollars for a very basic bike to several thousands of dollars for a top of the range bike. To this you need to add a helmet, shoes, lights, water bottles, tyres, and servicing all of which can quickly add up.

Other kit to be considered are the several pairs of running shoes that you will use during your training, the sports clothes, and gym membership or pool entry fees. Finally you will need to be fueled while you train so sports nutrition will need to be purchased. Over and above this due to you, burning a greater amount of calories on a daily basis, it is highly likely that your grocery bill will increase by 20-30% and this should be prepared for. We then come to travel costs.

The big decision that you will need to make when deciding to compete in an Ironman race is which one? There are many races held worldwide each year each offering a different experience. Your choice of race will have a large impact to the travel costs. You might be lucky and have one held in your home town. On the other extreme you might decide to travel overseas and make a longer holiday of the race. Your decision here will have a huge impact on your race costs.

These are just a few of the many considerations that you need to think carefully about before deciding to enter onto what is a very rewarding athletic journey. If you do decide to join the Ironman club be ready for a tough yet totally enjoyable ride.

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Edited by: Rajesh Bihani ( Find me on Google+ )

Disclaimer: The suggestions in the article(wherever applicable) are for informational purposes only. They are not intended as medical or any other type of advice