The Ironman triathlon is widely considered one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world.
It strikes fear in the hearts of the ordinary man (or woman), but as someone considering tackling such an event, you’re likely anything but ordinary.
You are, however, likely wondering “how on earth do I know I’m ready to do an Ironman?”. Fair question.
Consider these 3 things when signing up for an Ironman in the near future.
How long does it take to train for an Ironman?
Well, this is a loaded question. If you’ve been a marathoner and century bicyclist for some time, your answer will be a lot different than someone starting from scratch.
That said, even if you’re a total beginner, you can find an Ironman training plan that will take you from couch to Ironman in 1 year or less.
As far as time in hours, however, that’s another story.
Training for an Ironman requires 1 of 2 things:
- You have an inordinate amount of free time
- You’re really good at scheduling, and remaining disciplined
For most of us, the truth lies somewhere between the two. Most Ironman training schedules will work you up to a maximum of 25-30 hours per week of training in peak months. That’s almost an additional full time job to whatever workload you’re already carrying as an adult, a parent, a person with any semblance of a social life, etc.
Typically you’re going to be required to do some workouts before work, some after, and to absolutely capitalize on your weekends for (in some cases) 40+ consecutive weeks to train properly.
This sounds like an incredible burden, but when you realize that the average person spends 3.5 hours a day on their smartphone, you realize there’s some juice left to be squeezed.
How much does an Ironman cost?
Signing up for an Ironman race can cost between $700-$800, and that’s just the entry fee.
When following an Ironman training plan, you’ll likely also sign up for tuneup races, such as an Olympic distance triathlon and Half Ironman, which can be between $80-$350 a piece.
Then, there’s the gear.
Certainly you could spend $30,000 on a bike, but even if you’re looking at the entry level for a full distance Ironman, it’s not what the average person would consider cheap.
For example, some common entry level/middle of the road items/costs you’ll encounter are:
- Wetsuit: $200-$500
- Goggles: $30-$50
- Bike: $2,000-$4,000
- Helmet: $50-$300
- Bike shoes: $50-$200
- Running shoes: $80-$150
- Tri-suit: $100-$300
With gear racking up $2,500-$5,500 in addition to the race fees, completing an Ironman can be an exercise in financial responsibility as much as a physical one.
All that said, you have cheaper options such as renting a bike, or using a road bike, and borrowing a lot of the pricier equipment for your big day. Finding something decent to train on, and splurging for a rental on race day, can save you (literally) thousands, and keep the dollars from getting in the way of your goal.
What’s your support system like?
Even though an Ironman is “technically” an individual race, there’s no way you can complete one alone.
You’re going to be spending a lot of time training, which means you’ll be spending less time going out, seeing friends and family, staying up late (trust me), etc.
Being surrounded by friends and family that support and encourage you along the way is an invaluable asset to have.
There will be times where you want to quit, where people will be frustrated you can’t go to happy hour, etc. It’ll happen. But having them know what you’re striving for and having them in your corner will give you the peace of mind you’ll need to train effectively.
So, can you do an Ironman?
With the right amount of time management, discipline, support, and to some extent budget, you can add “Ironman” to your list of nicknames.
Even with a mediocre athletic background, you can train for an Ironman in a year, and the more experience you have, the shorter that timeframe can be.
With that, grab a training plan, sign up for a race, and get to work. Only a few months stand between you and hearing “You are, an Ironman!” over that finish line loud speaker.