Kona is over for another year, and our Bindi athletes back are on Aussie soil, full of stories of triumph and woe. The experience of racing in Hawaii is certain to cause a serious case of FOMO, and I get it, your first instinct is to rush out and sign up for the next Ironman available in the hopes of qualifying for next year’s event. Or maybe you’re just so inspired and you think, hey I can do that too!
Here at Bindi HQ there has been much discussion over the choice to sign up for Ironman distance, so we put together this list of the top five questions to ask yourself BEFORE paying your entrance fee!
Discover our most important questions here…
1. Can my body withstand the training? (It’s best to have all your ducks in a row)
I know your first inclination is to say, “Yep, for sure, I’m there, I can handle it!” But take a minute to think. Ironman requires at least five months of consistent training across the three disciplines. The load will increase over those five months, often resulting in training around 20-24 hours a week. Rest and recovery are paramount to ensure your body can cope with the load, and if you have any niggles at all, don’t wait until they become super painful; get help early to avoid serious injury.
2. Do I have a knowledgeable mentor/coach to put together a plan?
There are plenty of anecdotal stories out there about athletes who decided to train by themselves, and good on them for their commitment, but I highly recommend you find yourself a knowledgeable coach to guide you through this experience. It is so easy to get caught up in training all the time – the high you get from nailing a great session is undeniable – sometimes you can lose sight of the bigger picture, which is to finish the event intact, having used a well thought out race plan that plays to your strengths. Ask around, talk to a few coaches and friends, and find someone you respect, whose advice you will listen to.
3. Do you have the money? (It is an expensive undertaking)
You know it’s true! The entry alone is often upward of $700 then you need to think about travelling to the event, hotel fees, money for the expo etc. That’s before you consider coaching fees, pool entry, fuelling for training, clothing and of course all the post-ride coffees you’ll be drinking.
Massage and physio costs add up (and you should be having a massage weekly people, c’mon, you know it) which can land you in financial distress if you’re not careful.
4. Do I really have time? (It’s going to mean a lot of your spare time is taken up doing some sort of IM activity – are your loved ones prepared to support you?)
Okay, so this is a big one. People talk about being “ironman widows” and in many cases this has the ring of truth about it. When your loved one is getting up at 4.30 am to get in a session before work, then heading directly to the pool or track after work to get the evening training done often crawling into bed at 8 pm, it can be a very lonely time for those left at home. Weekends often consist of 5-6 hours of training on a Saturday and 2-3 hours on a Sunday.
Have a serious discussion with your partner and talk openly about it. Remind each other that it will be for a limited time (the least 8 weeks will be hardest) and make sure you are both ready for the commitment. You will be tired, grumpy, hungry (hangry) and will generate huge amounts of dirty lycra!
5. Do you enjoy doing long training sessions – sometimes on your own? (It’s the reality when preparing for an IM – there is no shame in admitting it might not be for you!)
Six hours on the bike by yourself might not be your thing. If you can’t find anyone else to train with, the likelihood is that six hours alone time will be the reality. IM is a solo event – it takes grit, determination and motivation to get to that finish line. And you know what? If you’re not quite ready for it, that’s fine. I have a friend who is waiting until her youngest child is in high school before she thinks about signing up, because she understands the commitment IM requires and she’s not quite ready for that impact on her family just yet.
Thinking long and hard about these questions can really help you decide if Ironman is right for you, at this time in your life. My coach likes to try and talk people out of entering… because when he knows they can answer all of these questions with a strong argument then they are probably ready!
Whatever your reason, I know one thing for sure: IM will change your life.