After the recent exciting IRONMAN race weekend we’ve been getting a lot of questions akin to “Do I have what it takes to complete an IRONMAN?” “What should I expect?” We’ve attempted to answer the top three questions below!
If you’re signed up for your first IRONMAN recently or plan on it, chances are you have a lot of questions! Here are three of the most common questions that new IM seekers ask. Though there are many situations that can change these answers slightly, we’ve attempted to give our best answer for most cases.
What’s the (time commitment) difference between full and half training?
When I’m talking to people about the time commitment for IRONMAN, they’re often in the situation of having recently trained for a 70.3. This answer certainly doesn’t cover all the differences in 70.3 versus 140.6 training, but I usually tell them that the main difference in the two training scenarios is the weekends.
For 70.3 training, you can generally complete anything you need to do before lunchtime on a Saturday. Heck, if you’re especially dedicated, ride the trainer, or ride in the dark, you can complete your training before the kids wake up for breakfast.
For 140.6 training, this is simply not possible, at least, it’s not possible for mere mortals. (Some people really do start bike rides at 3 AM!) You’ll have some all day bike rides, some really long runs that either necessitate an entire weekend day or a day off work. The good news is that those days don’t have to be every weekend, so if you’re short on time you can do creative things to plan for those days and make them possible.
What should I be doing NOW to prep?
Let’s start with a couple of don’ts right off the bat…
DON’T start calling every workout you’re doing now part of IRONMAN training. I know some people do this who successfully go on to complete their races, but for most, to say you’re actively IRONMAN training one year out is a recipe for burnout.
DON’T start doing long, glacial workouts now. This will compound the burnout, loss of interest, and lack of improvement mentioned in the previous step. Instead, pick a focus area for the winter and concentrate on improvements there. If you have a solid swim, bike, and run background, your first focus area may even be something not related to SBR like improving your body composition.
Instead, find some exciting intermediate goals that will ultimately help you in your quest. For example, if your weak leg is running, plan to work on your 5 or 10k PR over the winter. Those improvements will trickle down into improvements into the longer run races and run legs of an IRONMAN. (Note: we won’t tackle whether you should run a marathon in the off-season which is in most cases not the best use of your time)
How much of a time commitment can I expect?
DO look at some sample plans online, and talk to friends to get a sense of the time commitment to complete an event. Talk to your family and/ or employers in advance to see how it’s possible to carve out said time. Taking a few PTO days for long bikes or getting a babysitter is a must in many situations.
DO recognize that training can look very different depending on your situation. If you’re someone who works full time, has young kids, and have a goal to cross the finish line strong, your training may look very different from someone who’s completed several IRONMAN races, has a free 20 hours per week, and wants to toe the line at Kona. In general you should plan for some 14 – 18 hour weeks in the race specific phase, ie the last ten weeks leading up to the race.
Have a question or training issue you’d like to see tackled in our training tips section? Email us at energylabatl.com or comment below!