I heard an amazing story whilst doing the Ironman Sardegna 703 in Italy. There was one athlete that did the Ironman in New Zealand that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.
A 62 year old man did the full Ironman without legs. He did the whole triathlon on stumps. He even ran on stumps! Towards the end of his run at every aid station, he had to remove his stumps and ice the bottom of his legs as they were red raw and slightly bloody. He always put his stumps back on and ran to the next station. He finished within the 17 hours. He did what he said he was going to do even though he was in pain. It was pure will power that got him to that line and he is an incredibly inspiring person who knows no limits. He is an Ironman finisher and always will be.
Anything is possible for him and that’s the amazing thing about these these triathlons. There are so many different shapes and sizes, races, disabilities, men and women all going for the same goal. It is not about winning, it’s about getting to that line. Not only are the spectators shouting and motivating you, other athletes are as well. It is an experience and it is available to anyone. You just have to find that switch that says, “i’m going to do this, i’m gonna get to that line”.
Now in order to get to that line you will have to get yourself a good training program. I personally did 10 weeks, which was not long enough. You should allow yourself a minimum of 6 months if you are starting from a beginner / intermediate level. You most likely will be following an 80 / 20 model, which means that throughout those training weeks you will be doing easy paces with a heart rate no higher than 150 for 80 % of that training program. On the other hand, 20 % of the time you will be pushing hard. You want to be in Zone 4 or Zone 5 which means the HR is above the 170 mark. To learn more about this model I recommend the book by Matt Fitzgerald called 80 / 20 available on Amazon.
It would be too easy to say to you “this is what you need to do.” Fitness does not work like that. It’s all relative. You will roughly be doing 2 swims / 2 bike rides / 2 runs per week. You will be doing mainly aerobic endurance. On the “hard” days you are working on anaerobic conditioning (without oxygen) you will be doing things like sprints. Rather than doing a 55 min run for example, you will be doing a short fast 25 min working on getting that heart rate up. On the bike you will be doing a similar thing called Ironman Ups, which involves biking hard for 3-5 minutes uphill then recovering and repeating. Same in the pool, you will be doing 200-500m at a speedy pace and recording those times. Every 4 weeks you will be doing Fitness Tests and the goal is to always beat your previous test results.
It can come across as very complicated and that’s why you should not do this challenge on your own. You definitely need some accountability. Therefore, don’t try and overthink it. Get a coach. Get someone that has lots of experience. There are so many coaches out there and they are either online or available in your area. In order to find out more get in contact with us directly at BYTX and we can find you someone that matches your abilities. If you are worried about pricing you can also get a standard training plan online. I would recommend www.myprocoach.net. On there you can get a training plan for 60 - 100 dollars, but I recommend you spend that extra, as it will be more personalised to you and more beneficial.
On a final note I have done it. I got to the line. On the day everything is different than you can replicate in training. The main thing I can say is get used to being uncomfortable in training. Focus on being comfortable by being uncomfortable. On the day anything can happen. My foot was bloody, my back hurt, it was freezing cold and wet, I didn’t eat enough calories on the bike ride, however I still made it and you can too. I am not special, I am just determined and if you can get that into your mind I guarantee that you will finish it. You can sign up at www.ironman.com. Let me know, tag us in your posts and find that switch, go for it.