Should You Do an Ironman Triathlon
February 29,2012 12:00 PM
For many self-proclaimed Ironman-triathlon addicts it isn't the scent of fall in the air that sends a rush of renewed enthusiasm, but rather the sense of urgency to sign up for next year's Ironman race. With many events selling out within 24 hours, there's incredible pressure to sign up 12 months in advance.
Tens of thousands of people drop over $600 in race entry costs every year without knowing certain their financial, health and family situation come the following year. And that doesn't include the hundreds of dollars spent on travel, housing, food, bike transport, child/dog daycare and training (coaching, massage, equipment, maintenance) costs.
So why do they do it? This is precisely the question many addicts or newbies don't even consider before signing up. For all the sacrifices you (and your family) will have to make in order to reach this goal, you should have a clear purpose for doing it.
Whether it's your first or tenth, here are some things you should consider before taking the plunge.
What is your financial status or your predicted status a year from now? Could you be investing in coaching, equipment or education instead that could make you faster or more efficient for an Ironman race two years from now?
Do you need a massive new goal to motivate you and your training? This could be just what you need! Or you could be setting yourself up for disaster. Make sure you have a solid base of training before signing up. The "couch to Ironman" program is not recommended.
Are you avoiding other projects in your life? Athletes often use training as a distraction. It's a means of feeling accomplished while at the same time procrastinating the projects that have been on the back burner (career, personal relationships, finances).
How are your relationships with your family and friends? Can they withstand the heavy time commitment required with Ironman training? Will your bike see more action than your bed? Do you only socialize with triathletes or do you have a healthy balance of different friendships?
Would a year of racing focused on shorter faster distances help set you up better for Ironman success? Maybe you need to shake off some of the heavy endurance muscles and tap into speed in your legs that may have been beat down from years of long-distance training.
Have you had your blood tested recently to make sure you are not deficient in essential minerals? Women specifically, have you had your feritin tested? Are you in optimal health?
Are you trying to qualify for Kona? Make sure you pick a race based on your strengths so that you can optimize your chances of qualifying in your age group.
Are you trying to PR on a favorite course? If so, have you adjusted your training plan? You can't expect different results if you are training the same.
Have you considered signing up for a race with a group of people? Training buddies are great support on a journey like this. It could be a great opportunity to meet new people or build bonds with triathletes you already know.
Are you turning this trip into a family vacation? If so, does it meet the needs of those in your family or is it purely selfish? Did you do the same "family" trip last year?
Answers to these questions are, of course, subjective. Perhaps you really only need to ask one: Are you ready to do an Ironman triathlon?