CAN YOU GO THE DISTANCE?
An insight into triathlon distance and how you should choose yours
it takes time
It Takes Time. Triathlon is an endurance sport so no matter if you are training for a sprint race or an Ironman (full) distance you need to build a strong endurance foundation. When I trained with some of the best pros in the world the long-distance athletes and the short distance athletes trained together 90% of the time. So whether you are going long or short your off-season training will be much the same.
There are opportunities to race competitively over the short distance but in my experience, most age-group triathletes are ultimately interested in the challenge of completing an Ironman or Iron-distance event so I will be discussing considerations to make when deciding about doing an ironman.
Time and Commitment
Training to be your best in a sprint or Olympic race or championship will take more time and commitment then training to finish one. Training to finish an Ironman is going to take at least as much training and commitment. I believe that everyone with a healthy body and enough motivation can achieve the challenge of finishing an IRONMAN. Beyond that, I also know with experience that one can finish and IRONMAN and do quite well with his little as 6 to 8 hours on average of training per week. Of course in the final few months leading up to the IRONMAN you may need to train 8 to 10 hours per week. However, here are some considerations to make when deciding whether to go for it and sign up for your first Iron Man.
Is Your Family Okay With it?
Although I’ve mentioned that you can achieve this with relatively little training you will need to be very consistent and that means sitting in training nearly every day. Is that going to be possible with your work and family situation? Is it going to be positive for you and your family members? If the answer to that is yes it will be positive for you but maybe not for your family members then you should reconsider and do some smaller race events instead. In my experience, if it’s not positive for everyone around you it won’t be positive for you in the end.
What is the Condition of Your Body?
Are you in relatively decent shape? Or have you been somewhat sedentary the past years? If you are in the latter group then your first few months of training will look a little different than if you’ve been training consistently for some time. Some of the newbies I’ve had the most success with were gym rats with minimal endurance training. Because they were so strong in the core they managed to build their endurance training very effectively and stay injury-free. So if you haven’t been active for some years it is a good idea to start in the gym to build up your body first – especially the core and gluts.
Just Go for IT
I am a true believer that you can do an Ironman with as little as 6-10 training hours per week. If you’ve considered the above and really want to give one a shot and you can manage an hour per day of training (on average) you can get yourself in shape to do a solid Ironman. Consistency is much more important than getting as many super long workouts in as you can, especially in the off-season. So make a plan of your own or buy one in 10-week blocks or hire a coach. This way you can be confident your training makes sense and is tried and tested (it should be or it should not be for sale)