It’s the world’s toughest endurance race. Despite the grueling conditions, it is also one of the most loved sports on earth – by both participants and spectators. And it’s affectionately called the Ironman.
The Birth of the Ironman Triathlon
Have you ever wondered how the Ironman triathlon started? I have. And the answer was as surprising as it is amusing. As the story goes, John Collins (the man who coined the name) and his fellow athletes were debating which athletes were the fittest between swimmers, bikers, and runners. This debate led John and his wife Judy to combine these 3 disciplines into 1 event after getting inspiration from some triathlon events they had just participated in. The combination of the 3 toughest endurance races was the birth of the Ironman Triathlon. Did it resolve the debate? No, but it created an event that produced the worlds fittest athletes – Ironmen.
What Exactly is the Ironman Race?
The short answer – only the most physically intense race on earth. But there is more to Ironman than that. The Ironman triathlon may be a competitive race, but above and beyond that, it is a gathering of like-minded athletes. Athletes who have answered the call to be the epitome of human fitness.
The Ironman triathlon places a demand on every muscle in the body, making it the best way to showcase what the human body is really capable of. It is a test of speed, stamina, and strength. And to bring out these 3 qualities out of an individual, the Ironman triathlon employs the 3 disciplines that sparked the debate between John Collins and his friends back in the 1970s. Ironman is a sequential competitive endurance race that combines swimming, biking, and running – all 3 being endurance sports in their own right.
Top 5 Beginners Tips to Ironman
If you are a beginner, the Ironman race might be a task so daunting it might scare you off. But once you get into the flow of it, it becomes like any other race you have participated in, albeit with an added edge. Despite the raised thresholds, increased distances, and sometimes brain numbing demands of the Ironman triathlon (and its little brother the Ironman 70.3, otherwise known as Half Ironman) the Ironman triathlon is not an impossible goal. Here are some tips to help you achieve Ironman status.
1. Take Note of Your Personal Limits
Before you start your training regimen for the Ironman Triathlon, you first have to take stock of your capabilities and limits, your weaknesses and your strengths. This will help you focus more on developing your weak areas in order to create a well-rounded body with a balanced set of muscles.
The success of a triathlete is not determined by their strengths but by their weak points. This is why identifying those weak points is a crucial step on your journey to Ironman.
2. Get a Good Coach
As with every discipline, coaching makes all the difference between success and failure. One of the benefits of a coach, besides giving you training direction, is to keep you motivated, believe me when I tell you that many Ironmen have felt like throwing in the towel during their training and preparation stage. The only reason they pushed through was external motivation.
You may not be able to afford a professional coach but that’s okay. Simply find a friend who is willing and able to motivate you to push yourself beyond your limits. The motivation factor alone can push you to exert yourself enough to complete an Ironman triathlon.
3. Keep Tabs on Your Performance
Make it a habit to record your performance during training and any events you may participate in. The only person you should focus on outperforming is the one who stares back at you every time you look in the mirror. Your personal best of today should be your competition tomorrow. In other words always strive to break your own personal records, not someone else’s.
4. Rally the Troops
The journey to Ironman is not a journey you can take alone. You need to have a support team. The purpose of a support team is to offer moral support – you will need a lot of it. There will definitely be days when you will feel like giving up and throwing in the towel, it’s normal. And that is why you will need your support team. They will lift you up when you are down and get you back on track when you deviate from the path. No man is an island – not even Ironman.
5. Start with Ironman 70.3
Ironman 70.3, or the Half Ironman triathlon, is the best way to gauge your readiness for the Ironman challenge. Don’t get me wrong, just because I said it’s a preparation does not necessarily mean it is not intense – it is.
Will the Real Ironman Stand Up
It’s time for you to stand and be counted among the small population of the fittest athletes on earth. With the necessary preparation and training, Ironman is not a lofty dream, it is a reality.