If you’re new in triathlon the word “Ironman” might sound overwhelming. In fact, it is. Before signing into any race there are a few things to consider.
If you’re just starting out in the sport, follow the logic step of building up from a Sprint race or Olympic triathlon to a Half Ironman and then into Ironman. It’s not just a matter will and mind. Your body and joints need a long time to adapt to the stress of everyday training. Volume training will take a lot from your body and you need to prepared for the demands of the long distance.
Making the Big Step
Before registering, be sure to have enough time to prepare for the challenge. In general, 6-9 months will be enough time to go through the entire process of base, build and specialty phase to prepare for the race. That said, always look for races that leave you enough time to prepare accordingly.
Try to find races that will allow you to train in good weather. It will be more enjoyable to train without cold and rain. Spending 5 hours riding on your indoor trainer it’s hard.
Find Friends to Join You
If you train in a Team or with a group of friends try to make them join you in this crazy adventure. The whole Ironman experience is much more enjoyable when you share the commitment with others. Training, traveling and racing together will create unforgettable moments.
Always look for races that are weather friendly. Not everybody can adapt well to hot or cold conditions. If you have trouble adapting to heat, leave those events out unless you can arrive at least 10 days prior to the race. Same goes for cold.
Be sure to check the course profile for bike and run. If this is your first Ironman, you probably are looking for a Flat course on the bike and the run.
Is it an Ocean or Lake swim? Are wetsuits allowed? If your swimming skills are not the best, always pick races where wesuits are allowed.
How far is the venue from your home? Is there any time difference? How many flights do you need to take to arrive to the race location? Always try to find directs flights. The more stops you make, the more chances are that your luggage or bike case can get lost. Consider getting a ensurance for you bike. They are cheap and can help a lot if you get into the lost bike situation. Always travel at least 5 days before the event. It will leave time to solve any luggage issues and also let you train in the course too.
If you plan to bring the family along, be mindful about the additional stress it will bring to you and them. Over the course of the years I have learned that it is much better option to bring family one day prior to the event. Race week is a stressful experience and it’s hard to focus on your love ones when you have to worry about race week schedule, training and meals. You can plan a post race week of vacation with them. You will be able to relax and focus 100% on them.
Last but not Least
Your first Ironman will be the one that you will remember most. Do not make the mistake of expecting a particular time or performance. The main purpose here is to cross the finish line and enjoy the ride.