Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Ironman races aren't fun yet we're excited to do them...

I've done 11 Ironman races and I don't enjoy them very much.

Yet my plan is to try and do one once a year.

At this point you probably have that German Sheppard tilted head look and are asking, "If you don't like Ironman races why do you plan on doing them ever again? Yet again plan on doing one a year?

That is a really good question.

The reason is the reward is worth the pain.

Doing an Ironman for the first time is typically a year long event or more event. It might start with just doing shorter triathlons, then moving up to a half. Along the way you met people that have done Ironmans. You hear stories. You let the idea of you doing an Ironman enter your head. You start bouncing the idea or making comments about possibly doing an Ironman to others.

Typically signing up for an Ironman is not a rash decision. It's not a 5 km road race. It's the Ironman. A 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run. It's more than a race it's a lifestyle commitment. It can take months and even years for some to make that fateful decision.

After the decision is made and the registration paid the Ironman pageant begins. Registering is usually 12 months before the event. Once signed up everyday in your thoughts and conversations it's all about Ironman. When you talk to your friends, co-workers, significant other, relatives and even people in line at the Supermarket you are talking Ironman.

The support and accolades of other impressed with your decision to do an Ironman is intoxicating. You feel like a rock star. Comments like "that's amazing" or "I could never do that" or "that's insane" really get you feeling different and proud of yourself for taking on such a challenge that has the ultimate respect of others. People ask "when is the event?" or "how long is the race?" keeps you totally focused on Ironman. NO ONE ever signs up for an Ironman and doesn't tell people about it indirectly or directly.

Next the training comes and more thoughts and discussion. Perhaps it's with your coach and it's talking about workouts. Or with others learning about the insane workouts you are doing. It could be your diet, shopping and eating healthy. Focusing on recovery and getting enough rest.

There is NOT a day that goes by that you are not focused on getting ready for Ironman.

This is a euphoric feeling. The Ironman doesn't feel real yet. It's just very exciting to talk about and train towards.

Not until it gets 12 weeks before the Ironman does it start to feel real. The pressure starts building and every week closer to the race there is more and more pressure.

By the time race day comes your full of fear and doubt asking yourself "Did I train enough? Can I finish?" and you have all sort of worry and anxiety.

Then you race....An it is Tough. It's a hard race. You beat up your body. In most cases there is issues you need to overcome. The mental strength to push to the finish is immense. Many times you question yourself and the pain often becomes so great you vow you will never do this again. It's stupid. You think of all the people you told you are doing this Ironman and you know you CAN'T quit. If you do you have a lot of explaining and excuses to make. That can't happen so it directly motivates you to finish.

After you finish the Ironman talking pageant continues. People ask you how it went and you tell them. You are now a rock star. The ego boost is awesome.

There is the cooling off period. People stop asking and you are glad the race is over. You remember the pain and suffering and you don't think of jumping back into one too earlier or at all.

At some point you forget about the pain and remember the feeling you got during the pageant. It could be the ego stroking or the feeling of being in awesome physical shape. The pain and suffering becomes a distant memory.

Eventually you sign up for another one and the cycle continues.

For those that have done multiple Ironmans the race never gets easier. Some are easier than others, but none are easy. All are painful to get to the finish and just to walk around the next day.

BUT the one day of horrific pain and suffering is worth the year long pageant of accolades and physical gains and endorphin highs.

No Training - Recovery


  1. Very accurately put. I think Ironmans do get marginally easier and faster the more of them you do though. Having said that the difference in pain is probably too small to measure, there's certainly measurably less misery though I reckon.

  2. I do agree abit about the misery, although I'm thinking it's less because of knowing the amount of proper training that is required. I could only imagine the misery if I didn't show up ready no matter how many I've done.